Relationships are tough. It’s difficult to know when to keep trying and when to let go. You’re not alone in this struggle – many people either give up at the first sign of problems because it’s scary or determinedly stay in the relationship long after it’s dead. When you’re in the middle of a situation it’s hard to see it clearly. Here are some definitive reasons to end things:
1. You feel disconnected and nothing fixes it.
Once upon a time, the two of you were very close. You thought that nothing and no one could ever alter that idyllic situation. Unfortunately, life goes on and people change. You’ve drifted away from one another and either you cannot figure out how to get back to where you were or you aren’t invested enough to do so. Maybe you’ve even tried getting outside help but it hasn’t improved your dynamic. Some relationships aren’t meant to last forever. It sucks, but if you’re bogged down in something that doesn’t serve you, it’s time to move on.
2. You have no desire to try anymore.
In order for relationships to survive all the ups and downs, both partners must have a strong wish to work hard to maintain their love. The true romance isn’t in the sweet, mushy honeymoon phase. It’s in the desire to put the relationship first and keep striving for deeper connection and intimacy long after that initial rush is gone. If one or both of you are no longer willing to do that work, it’s time to admit that perhaps it is truly not in your best interests to continue.
3. You envision different outcomes for the future.
You might not have previously discussed the future, or your desires may have changed over time. Either way, a similar idea of where your lives should progress is essential. If you aren’t going the same way, you won’t make your relationship work long term. This is where constant communication and honesty come into play. You need to check in with each other frequently and establish that you’re on the same page. If you are not, don’t ignore that or hope that it goes away. Be extremely truthful with each other and accept that the final outcome of that discussion very well could be the decision to end things.
4. You don’t match up on the non-negotiables.
It’s always a good idea to be upfront about your non-negotiables and discuss them before you’re too deep into a relationship. Often, though, that doesn’t happen. No matter your method of approach, you have to deal with them eventually. You can’t simply hope that your partner will change their mind and come around to what you want. It is possible for that to happen, but it’s never guaranteed. If you are truly never going to budge on an issue, it’s best to have a brutally honest conversation about it so you know where you both stand. If neither of you wants to compromise, you should let go before you’re even more deeply attached.
5. You don’t trust each other.
Either the trust never existed in the first place or the two of you lost it over time for any number of reasons. It’s nearly impossible to keep a relationship healthy without trust. You must address the issues at hand and do it expediently. Recognize that if there was never any establishment of that trust, in the beginning, you shouldn’t be in the relationship, and don’t make that same mistake again. If the trust has taken a beating for whatever reason and you can’t seem to regain it, it’s best to accept that you’ll never have a healthy partnership and end it.
6. You can’t reach emotional intimacy.
This is an especially heartbreaking reason to split up because often one or both people involved truly does want to achieve that intimacy but cannot seem to get there. Maybe you (or your partner) never learned how to open up and trust another person. Maybe that ability was there at one time, but trauma or pain stunted and warped it. There is an infinite number of factors that affect your level of emotional maturity and self-awareness. Whatever the case may be, the issue is still present. If you’ve tried to reach the depth that you deserve out of a relationship and keep coming up short, you’ll never be satisfied. Move on to something more fulfilling.
7. You have more bad times than good.
There will be imperfections in any relationship, but if it sucks more often than not, take note. The good should always outweigh the bad – otherwise, what are you even doing? There’s no point in staying in something if you believe that you’d be happier out of it. Just like with any other issue, communication is key here. The two of you must have a conversation about what’s happening and whether it is resolvable or not. If you attempt to improve the situation on multiple occasions and nothing happens, make the decision that’s healthier for both of you. Release each other from the misery – you might even be relieved when it’s over.
8. You don’t have sex – and you don’t care.
It’s normal for sex to taper off after the beginning of a relationship. Your sex life goes through phases of highs and lows as you spend the years together. Maintaining a healthy physical connection is, like everything else, a matter of effort and hard work. It’s not always, well, sexy. The tipping point is when you feel like two friends who simply happen to share a bed and don’t even miss the sexual bond you once shared. If one of you isn’t willing or able to maintain a physical relationship that matches what the other wants, you’re in trouble. If you aren’t attracted to your partner anymore, there’s a deeper problem. Maybe you don’t actually want to be with them … and in that case, you shouldn’t.
9. You avoid working through problems.
Be real with yourself. If you can’t handle dealing with difficult times, maybe you aren’t ready or willing to be in a relationship. Maybe you just aren’t fully committed to this particular relationship. Either way, the two of you cannot be successful for the long haul if you won’t dig in and get dirty. Maybe you have a long history of avoidance issues, and maybe it’s related to the past. That’s reasonable – we all have baggage. Even so, you are both adults now and it’s your responsibility to work through your personal hang-ups. If you cannot maturely handle the ugly side of being in a partnership, admit that you need to be alone until you can. Separate and take the time to heal and grow – you both owe it to yourselves.
10. You only stay because it’s more comfortable than leaving.
This happens a lot, so don’t beat yourself up. Once you’re aware, though, you have no excuse to continue behavior that is not only hurting you but also your partner. Think about how badly you’d feel if the tables were turned and you found out that your significant other stayed with you out of laziness or boredom or, even worse, a desire to take advantage financially or otherwise. This goes both ways, of course – hopefully, the two of you conversed at some point and discussed being truthful with each other if either one of you feels this way. This is the worst and perhaps the most common reason for staying with someone when you should leave. Nothing is really wrong, so you don’t want to throw away months or years of shared experiences … but it’s also not right. Keep thinking about how you’d feel on the other side, and use that as an impetus to do what you should. It sucks, but it’s far better for everyone in the long run.