Unsure If Your Relationship Is Over? Here's 5 Signs It Might Be Time To Break Up
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- One or both partners becoming withdrawn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
- 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.
5 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:
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.
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.
- They don’t share anything with you: They may not want to have deep conversations or share vulnerability.
- 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 relies 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.
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. An online platform can provide an increased sense of security, privacy, and comfort, and research supports that online couple’s therapy can effectively improve relationship satisfaction for many couples.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Know When A Relationship Is Really Over?
A relationship can be finished long before you realize it. Just like the red flags that were initially ignored, so are some of the signs a relationship is over. A finished relationship that’s left to fester can cause anger and resentment, resulting in subsequent mental and/or emotional illness. So, know the signs. It may be time to move on if you notice any of these things in your relationship:
- You feel bored with the other person
- You don’t enjoy spending time with each other
- You refuse or neglect to communicate
- You’re afraid to your thoughts and feelings
- You are no longer interested in sex with your partner
- You’re reluctant to make plans for the future
- You fight often, and usually about petty things
- You’ve become attracted to someone else
- Your friends and family don’t like your partner
- You experience abuse of any kind
If you no longer feel affectionate, don’t get upset when you think about your partner with another person, or stop wanting to work on the relationship altogether; it may be the end of the road. If your problems begin to affect your life or your ability to live it negatively, then make time to call a relationship expert for help. Many times, the issues that cause a breakup can be fixed with some couple’s counseling.
How Do You Know When To Call It Quits In Your Relationship?
Knowing when it’s time to call it quits in your current relationship is important to your mental and emotional health. Long-lasting unions with the wrong person can lead to anxiety, depression, and other disorders so, if you start feeling differently or begin losing sight of reality because of the conditions in your relationship, it may be time to break things off for a bit or seek relationship advice from an expert.
Meanwhile, many telltale signs say something is wrong. Most red flags can be uncovered just by spending time with your partner while observing their behaviors. However, these are some of the other signs that the relationship has seen better days:
- You’re no longer interested in pursuing a relationship
- You don’t feel comfortable your thoughts and emotions
- The thought of sex and/or affection is no longer appealing
- Your friends and family make disparaging comments
- You’re constantly fighting about things big and small
- Your goals, morals, and values don’t align
- You don’t want to spend time with your partner when you’re in a good mood
- You’re not excited about the future and stop making plans for it
- You get abused or neglected in any way
- The lines of communication break down completely
- You feel bored in the relationship
- You and/or your partner begin fantasizing about someone else
If you’re experiencing any of those things in your current relationship, it may be time to break up for a while or time to move on completely. Seek professional counseling for more personalized relationship advice or for help recognizing the signs a relationship is over.
How Do I Know If My Relationship Is Long-Lasting?
There are many signs a relationship is over, but how do you know when it’s long-lasting? In most cases, the beginning of a relationship is no indication of how things will ultimately be. In fact, that’s when you should be spending time with one another to catch any of the telltale signs that something might go wrong. These signs are often called “red flags,” but if you find none, then it might be the start of something permanent.
A relationship expert can help you figure things out more clearly, especially if you’re considering marriage or divorce. Most of the time, they’ll tell you to look for these # hallmarks of love longevity to be sure:
- You feel like you can be yourself around the other person.
- You’re not afraid to talk about the events of your past.
- You’d be happy to help the other person if they needed it.
- You celebrate accomplishments and mourn loss together.
- You’re not afraid to apologize and mean it.
- You both engage in active listening.
- Your goals, values, and morals are very similar.
- You don’t try to hurt each other when there’s a disagreement.
- You’re excited about the future together.
- You’ll confidently try new things with this person.
- Your bedroom life is spicy and adventurous.
- You practice honesty and openness despite life’s challenges.
If you catch many reg flags or suspect something is amiss in your relationship despite having a foundation, then it might be time to call a couple’s counselor for help. Please do this before deciding that it’s time to move on because most problems can be solved with the right therapies.
How Do I Break Up With Someone I Love?
When it’s time to break up with someone you love, things can get sticky. That’s because both people aren’t always on the same page about the future of the relationship. Just because you think it’s time to call it quits doesn’t mean they agree. However, there may be signs that your relationship needs to come to an end despite how you feel about one another. And if so, cutting ties is necessary, albeit tough.
Understanding the signs your relationship is over maybe the first step, but it’s not the last. In fact, breaking up with someone you love can be mentally and emotionally draining. The idea is to get your point across without hurting anyone’s feelings. However, that’s not always possible, so many people refuse to break up because of it. Unfortunately, knowing when it’s time to call it quits may help preserve the love and respect left in the relationship so that it may be required.
Therefore, the first step to breaking up with someone you love should be determining whether or not that’s what you actually want. Here are a few signs that might tell you its time to move on:
- The trust is gone
- You’re no longer attracted to them
- There has been too much hurt and trauma
- Your fights are unproductive
- You’re losing touch with reality
- You need space
Afterward, have an open and honest conversation with them about how you think and feel in regard to the relationship. Try to find time to break up in person; don’t do it over text, email, or phone because that’s considered rude. Spend time answering their questions, too, especially if they’re still in love or unconvinced of the signs your relationship should end. Here are some points to keep in mind while you do it:
- Good intentions
Try to prepare yourself for an emotional experience. Understand that this is going to be uncomfortable. So, if all else fails, it may be time to call a relationship expert for guidance or couple’s therapy.
How Do You Respark A Dying Relationship?
A dying spark is a major sign that your relationship is failing. In fact, disinterest and discontent are two of the most common factors that contribute to breakups. If you’re feeling bored, unhappy, unfulfilled, or neglected, it may be time to move on or time to call for help. However, all couples should know that the beginning of a relationship is no indication of how things will end. Just because you’re having problems now doesn’t mean they will last forever.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to revive the spark if both people are willing and able to oblige. So, before chalking the problems up as signs that the relationship is over, do these 10 things instead:
- Take responsibility for your actions and mistakes.
- Apologize wholeheartedly in person.
- Create opportunities to regain trust.
- Be radical about your transparency and accountability.
- Be caring and compassionate about your partner’s anguish.
- Try to manage your expectations according to the new dynamics.
- Set aside time for thoughtfulness, meaningful conversation, and/or romance.
- Get physically affectionate as often as possible.
- Use skilled communication techniques like active listening and openness.
- Seek help from a mental health professional or relationship counselor.
If you notice a sign that the relationship you’re in is dying, start addressing it immediately. The longer you wait, the more difficult your problems will become to manage. For help determining the signs, a relationship should end or be re-sparked, and talk to a relationship therapist.
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