Unsure If Your Relationship Is Over? Here's Five Signs It Might Be Time To Break Up

Updated March 27, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Most relationships experience occasional ruts. Determining whether you can work through it, or if it’s time to end your relationship for good, can be challenging. Signs like abuse, repeated boundary-crossing, frequent dishonesty, fundamental incompatibility, and unwillingness to address relationship imbalances are signs the relationship may not be repairable. If you’re currently unsatisfied in your relationship, but willing to work on it, you may want to reach out to a licensed couple’s therapist.  


The indicators that something’s wrong in your relationship

Most relationships experience rough patches, but the following signs may indicate an underlying issue in your relationship:  

  • Irritability or lack of energy
  • Increased conflict, criticism, contempt, or defensiveness 
  • One or both partners becoming withdrawn
  • Feeling uneasy 
  • Frustration and disappointment
  • Negativity
  • Deprioritizing each other
  • Reduced physical and/or emotional intimacy
  • Lack of communication 
  • Seeking external support to make up for relationship  

No relationship is perfect, and these symptoms do not always indicate an irreparable issue. Oftentimes, self-reflection, couple’s therapy, and honest communication can build more satisfying relationships. 

Five red flags to look out for

While many unhappy relationships can be improved, there are some signs that you may be better off breaking up. Everyone has different dealbreakers when it comes to their relationships, but the following signs are considered non-negotiable by many people: 

They’re abusive 

When most people think about domestic violence, they only consider physical violence. While physical violence is one form of abuse, there are many other types of abuse, including emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, and digital abuse. Any form of abuse can diminish mental health, self-esteem, independence, and sense of safety. 

If your partner is intimidating, humiliating, isolating, stalking, coercing, pressuring, controlling, manipulating or otherwise making you feel unsafe, you may want to reach out to a resource like the National Domestic Violence Hotline to learn more about safely leaving an abusive relationship. 

Your boundaries are repeatedly crossed

Healthy boundaries can create space for mutual respect, consideration, and safety. When your boundaries are repeatedly crossed, you may notice some of the following signs

  • Codependent tendencies: If you feel as though you should neglect your own needs in the interest of your partner, you may be in a codependent relationship. Codependent relationships are characterized by power imbalances that make it difficult to establish healthy boundaries. 
  • You feel uneasy: If you’re uneasy around them but you’re not sure why, they may have crossed your boundaries. According to Katie Lorz, LMHC, physical and emotional discomfort is a natural response to feeling unsafe. 
  • They’re not interested in what you have to say: If they don’t listen when you talk, repeatedly interrupt you, or walk away while you’re talking about something important to you, it may be a sign that they are not respectful of your opinions. 
  • They gaslight you: If your partner does something hurtful, and then turns around and blames you for their actions, they may be gaslighting you. Gaslighting crosses emotional boundaries and can make you question your perception of reality.  
  • They use manipulation to pressure you: If your partner uses the silent treatment when you tell them they’ve crossed your boundaries, they may be attempting to further undermine your boundaries. 

When your boundary is crossed, Angela Sitka, licensed LMFT, says you do not necessarily need to end your relationship immediately. Instead, she recommends evaluating whether you were clear about setting your boundary, how distressing the boundary violation was, and whether you’ve made attempts to resolve the boundary violation.

However, if your boundaries are repeatedly crossed, challenged, or ignored and you’ve tried to discuss them without success, it’s likely a good idea to end the relationship.  

They’re deceptive

Trusting relationships require trustworthy partners. If you’ve repeatedly caught them lying to you, your relationship may begin to experience eroded trust, compassion, empathy, and intimacy. Over time, you may even become indifferent to their deception. 

While many relationships recover from breaches of trust, be aware that research published in Nature Neuroscience suggests that the brain adapts to dishonesty, meaning the more they lie the easier it becomes for them to lie again in the future. The choice to stay in your relationship will likely depend on whether they express remorse and willingness to change their behavior.
If you decide to stay in the relationship, you may want to discuss what level of misinformation is acceptable in your relationship, what you consider a damaging lie, and what your boundaries are about deception.  

You’ve tried working on your relationship, but you’re still unsatisfied

Have you and your partner been having problems for a while? If so, you may have already tried soul-searching, improving communication strategies, and attending therapy. 

If you still don’t feel satisfied after you’ve both tried to improve the relationship, it may be a sign that you’re just not compatible. Incompatibility can occur even if they didn’t do anything “wrong.”

They don’t want to put in the work

If you’re the only one making an effort, it may be an indicator that your relationship is unbalanced or one-sided. Look for the following signs that might indicate imbalance

  • You feel insecure and anxious: You’re not sure if they’re committed to the relationship or if they really care about you. You may wonder if they’ll suddenly leave you. 
  • You feel unfulfilled or lonely: You do not have a deep emotional connection, and time spent together makes you feel drained, unsatisfied, or worried. 
  • You plan everything: Organizing dates, initiating sex, and making plans rely solely on you. You might feel as though your relationship would cease to exist if you stopped putting in the effort. 

One-sided relationships may develop when communication styles differ, they have an insecure attachment style, you have different needs and expectations, they’re under stress, or your past relationships are influencing your current relationship.

One-sided relationships can often be improved unless they’re uninterested or unwilling to repair the imbalance.

When couple’s therapy can help 

According to Chandrama Anderson, LMFT, “Many people decide to break up way too soon. Have you tried talking everything through? Have you gone to couples counseling? Many issues can be resolved with professional help. ... Relationships take work; you get out what you put in.” 

For many people, couples therapy can improve relationship satisfaction, reduce relationship distress, and address emotional and behavioral challenges in one or both partners

However, some couples may feel uncomfortable openly discussing their relationship difficulties in front of a professional. In a study published in Frontiers in Psychology on the expectations and experiences of couples attending online therapy, most couples found the physical distance from their therapist made them feel more comfortable and in control of their sessions. And, a 2022 study published in the same journal found that online couples therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy at improving relationship satisfaction and mental health.

In addition to the added comfort of attending therapy sessions from home, platforms like Regain feature in-app messaging, so you can reach out to your therapist whenever relationship challenges pop up. Plus, most couples match with a licensed couple’s therapist within 24-48 hours. 

Two women are sitting at a table outside and have wine glasses in front of them; one has her hand over her face and is upset, and the other is looking at her.
Getty/Halfpoint Images


If you’ve noticed signs like increased conflict, ambivalence, or reduced intimacy in your relationship, it may be a good idea to evaluate what’s driving those changes. While some issues can be worked on in therapy, there are other problems that may be relationship dealbreakers. 

If you’re both willing to talk with a licensed professional, online couples therapy may be a useful option. 

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