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Last Updated on December 12, 2021 by Randy Withers, LCMHC
There are few things quite as intoxicating as being in love. The euphoria we experience is like a drug.
Or maybe you have the opposite problem – you experience very little to no warm feelings or affection toward your partner at all. How do you know if this is a normal “bump in the road” or the sign of something more serious?
9 Signs It’s Time To End A Relationship
Often, the signs it’s time to end a relationship are subtle. Other times, they’re hard to ignore. Do you see any of the following?
1. The trust is gone.
There are a lot of things a relationship can survive, but a fundamental loss of trust for one or both partners is rarely one of them. Trust forms the foundation of relationships, and once gone, relationships crumble.
Whether trust was broken in a big, significant way, or chipped away little by little over time, you will know it’s gone by the way you question your partner’s motives or words. Have you ever said any of the following?
- “Why is he being so nice?
- I wonder if she’s really with her mom tonight?
- “He’s working late again. He must be cheating.”
Or have you actually said, “I don’t trust you”?
Trust violations are betrayals. Statements like these are all echoes of the same sentiment. They are clear signs it’s time to end a relationship.
Lack of trust is pervasive and promotes strong and disturbing emotions such as jealousy and resentment. They seep insidiously into the cracks of a damaged relationship, wreaking havoc from the inside.
Rebuilding lost trust in a damaged relationship is extraordinarily difficult. If the trust is gone from your relationship, it may be time to let it go so both of you can move on.
2. Your friends and family are unsupportive of the relationship.
If one of two people out of your friends and family dislikes your partner for some reason or another, that may be easy to dismiss as a personality clash.
However, if concerns are expressed consistently by several people, it’s wise to consider their point of view. If the people who always love and support you are expressing misgivings, listen to what they have to say.
Those outside of your relationship are often better able to see problems that you cannot. If loved ones are concerned, it’s important to pay attention to them. Their concerns might be a sign it’s time to end your relationship.
3. You have fantasies about life with someone else.
Daydreams are a normal part of existence. They’re harmless.
Fantasies, on the other hand, can be relationship killers. Especially the ones that involve being with other people.
This goes beyond the occasional mental dalliance with a celebrity, the kind you forget about in an hour. I’m talking about fantasy so consistent and deep-seated that it interferes with your life — and especially interactions with your partner.
It’s one thing to glance at an attractive neighbor. It’s another thing entirely to spend your days longing for the comfort of another man (or woman).
You may not even have anyone in particular in mind. You might just fantasize about the idea of being with someone else.
Either way, thoughts like these suggest that you’ve already mentally left the relationship.
If your devotion to an imaginary life is at the point where your real relationship suffers, it’s time to stock of things.
Are you really in the right relationship?
4. Your needs are not being met.
Everyone’s relationship needs vary. But no matter what they are, it’s a problem if those needs are not being met.
These include a broad range of needs, from consistently holding a job to ensure financial stability to parenting duties to spending quality time together.
If those needs aren’t being met, a divide forms in the relationship. Communication is essential in order to bridge the divide or prevent it in the first place. Unfortunately, even if needs are communicated, the other partner may be unwilling or unable to meet them.
One of the core aspects of a relationship is to meet the needs of your partner within it. If they are not doing that job as they should, or you look to other people to meet those needs, it may be a signal that your relationship has run its course.
5. You have different values.
While many of us hold similar values, some of them may be very different, and that difference could be enough to make or break a relationship. Fundamental values such as political leanings, gender roles within the home, careers, and more could mean the demise of a relationship if you and your partner view things differently.
For example, if you want to have a family someday, and your partner is staunchly anti-kid, no compromise will be satisfactory to either of you. Or if you value a quiet life in the Midwest and your partner will only be happy on the coast, there is simply no way to provide both lifestyles at once.
Neither value nor life desire is inherently wrong, just different. Unfortunately, that could mean they are different enough that there’s no feasible solution.
Being in a relationship calls for communication and compromise to be sure. But these are examples where compromise, no matter how much desired, will not resolve a fundamental difference in values. If this is the case with you and your partner, it’s one of the signs it’s time to leave a relationship.
6. You dread the idea of a future with your partner.
Serious, committed relationships generally move forward with the future in mind. This extends beyond dating someone – this is committing to building a life with them. If this prospect fills you with dread, maybe your relationship isn’t worth continuing.
This is especially true if your partner is ready for a commitment and you are not. If you are unable or unwilling to commit to a future together, the kind thing to do is to end the relationship so both parties can move on and find happiness.
Signs it’s time to leave a relationship often come from our gut. What is yours saying to you?
7. You have contempt for your partner.
Dr. John Gottman, a famous couples therapist and founder of The Gottman Institute, wrote that contempt “is the most destructive negative behavior in relationships.“
Contempt doesn’t spring from the typical, everyday annoyances that come with long-term relationships. How you squeeze the toothpaste tube, for example. Or leaving dirty laundry on the floor. Those are annoyances. Contempt is much worse.
To have contempt for a partner means you think they are worthless and that their feelings or thoughts no longer matter.
If that’s the case, it’s one of the signs it’s time to leave a relationship you should never, ever ignore.
In healthy, strong relationships, partners view each other as equals, a united front facing life together with mutual support. Friendship and caring for each other as humans are critical, especially when the going gets tough. Contempt makes this impossible.
8. Your plans don’t consider your partner.
In committed, happy relationships, future plans include your partner. This just makes sense – your partner is a part of your life, so what impacts you should impact them.
But if you find yourself making plans without considering your partner, that means the “fundamental” piece is missing. You have mentally detached yourself from the relationship when you make plans, decisions, or choices that do not take your partner’s plans or feelings into consideration.
When this happens, your relationship has already disintegrated and exists in name only. You will be doing both of yourselves a favor by ending the relationship. At least doing so will allow both of you to move forward.
Are you having relationship troubles? The therapists at BetterHelp are here for you. Meet your therapist today.
9. There Is Any Form Of Abuse In Your Relationship.
Abuse exists in many forms. It’s like the Devil that way. Don’t let it into your home. Not once. Not ever.
If you are experiencing abuse from your partner, it’s definitely a sign that it’s time to end a relationship. Your safety is of paramount importance and trumps any excuses you or your partner may make for bad behavior.
Those who are fortunate enough to have never experienced abuse may wonder what causes someone to stay in an abusive relationship. Truth is, it happens all the time.
Often, the abuser has other qualities that the victim finds desirable, such as social standing or financial stability. These other factors, coupled with mind games, threats, and isolation techniques employed by the abuser, make the victim afraid to leave.
This type of relationship dynamic is dangerous, and it’s important to reach out for help to ensure a safe exit from the situation.
Letting go of a relationship, especially one in which so much time has been invested, can be painful and difficult. However, it’s important to remember that staying in an unhappy relationship is equally painful, if not worse.
In exchange for temporary heartbreak, you enable yourself and your partner the opportunity to find a fulfilling relationship where everyone’s needs are met.
Sometimes it can be hard to determine if your relationship is that the point where it needs to end, or if temporary troubles can be worked through and overcome. Consider working with a qualified mental health professional if you need help.
These nine signs highlight some of the problems in relationships that may indicate it’s time to move on, and that a more fulfilling life is waiting on the other side.
Do you know of any other signs it’s time to end a relationship? Leave your comments below.
- When It’s Time to Let a Relationship Go
- How Do You Know When It’s Time to Break Up?
- The Four Horsemen: Contempt