Even a relationship that starts off great can suddenly take a turn in another direction unexpectedly. And irrespective of what you are taught and told, fairytale endings don’t exist in relationships. Don’t get me wrong. You can have a great relationship with someone and which can feel mystic, warm, and euphoric. But, love is much more complicated than that. It is why when you are trying to figure out if you should stay or leave a relationship, it is a decision that can easily torment you.
Here are some clear signs to help you know when to walk away from your significant other versus staying put.
1. You argue incessantly. This is a tricky one. If you have been in a long-term relationship, it’s so easy to emotionally shut down when you feel like your significant other doesn’t understand you. Every couple argues. It’s a norm in a relationship and arguments. If done the right way, it can help couples move forward and openly share their position on issues they need to resolve with one another.
However, in my experience of coaching couples, and you might relate to this, it is not uncommon to reach a point in your relationship where you just can’t seem to agree on anything. It happens to the best of couples. But, this is also when your relationship can either temporarily get worse then better or quickly decline without recovering.
Let’s take a step back to understand why arguments happen in relationships. When you argue, you genuinely are trying to get your significant other to understand your perspective and reasoning. And while arguments or disagreements can be uncomfortable, sometimes extremely so, they can also help the relationship. However, because of different communication styles, relationship experiences, and modeling relationships we have seen in our lives, arguments look ugly on the surface if you don’t do it with the right spirit.
Arguments or what I like to term spirited discussions are ok and can be healthy for your relationship. But, this is only if you have ground rules. If your arguments fall into the categories below, then your relationship may be headed in the wrong direction.
Arguments are not used as a way to insult one another or as an excuse to be physically or emotionally abusive.
When you argue you should not disrespect the other person’s character, traits, or use your knowledge you have of them in a way that violates them and to be purposely hurtful. If this is you or your significant other’s MO, you’re digging a well that will only get deeper.
Having healthy arguments is ok and reasonable, but should not be done in a way which causes the other person to feel worse. And if this has become the texture of your relationship, it is probably time to take a break.
2. You are putting in all of the work. If your relationship has reached a point where you are the only one actively supporting and trying to save the relationship it might be time for a break. A relationship cannot sustain itself based on one person doing all of the work.
It is impossible. Not only will you wear yourself out physically, mentally, and emotionally, but the other person knows they can put in very little work and you will still stick around. If this is happening to you, realize that often it gets worse versus better.
When your partner stops putting effort into the relationship it’s a clear sign of the following:
They don’t respect you.
They don’t care enough about you to work with you to figure out how to fix what is broken between the two of you.
They are selfish.
They do not love you unconditionally.
Putting in the work by both parties is the only way to make a relationship flow and move forward. One person can’t carry the entire load. Without emotional support and investment of two individuals, you are missing one of the major cornerstones of any successful relationship.
3. Your significant other has significant problems. Here are some specific examples. They cannot keep employment. They are horrible with their finances. They are addicted to drugs, alcohol or have a gambling problem. You keep trying to keep their addictions at bay, and you may have moments of success in doing so. But, inevitably, they go back to their bad habits.
My advice in this situation would be the following: “Realize that you cannot help someone overcome their own demons. They have to do this for themselves.” If they take these steps on their own, give them time to prove that they have changed. And then take small steps to figure out if they can stay consistent with their commitment to sobriety or to improve their destructive behavior.
Every relationship has its problems, but you cannot prevent someone from taking a step towards something they want to do even with the best guidance, support, and intentions. They have to want to make a change. Otherwise, your efforts are in vain.
4. They don’t make future plans with you. One thing I can promise you wholeheartedly is that if someone cares and loves you, they will make it clear. This means they will prioritize you and your place in their life. They will let you know where they stand with you and this includes making it clear to you what their future plans are with you.
You don’t have to overthink it with someone who cares about you, because the evidence won’t just be in what they say, but also in what they do for you. Figuring out how they feel about you will be the least of your worries.
I’m not saying you always know all of the future plans right away, but if you have been with someone a year or more and they don’t have any certainty of where things are headed with you, they are not into you. Love yourself enough to know you deserve better and will be better without them in your life.
5. They alienate you from others that are important to you. It’s normal at the beginning of a relationship to be with someone and spend a lot of your time with them. But, as you feel more secure in your relationship with them and you get to know one another, you should continue to carve out time with people that matter to you.
If someone in your relationship is so insecure that they try to alienate you from those who are closest to you, this is a huge red flag. It’s the first signs of control and possibly an abusive relationship. If this is happening in your relationship, realize it’s not normal. In healthy relationships, the other person understands you have existing relationships with others who are important to you. They should respect these relationships as long as they are not damaging to your relationship with one another.
6. You feel worse when you are with them. In any new relationship, there is absolutely that feeling of happiness and excitement because of the newness of having someone in your life who cares about you. Love just makes you feel a certain way. It’s intoxicating.
But if you are in a relationship with someone and you increasingly have negative feelings when you are around them, it’s likely that you aren’t with someone who is truly compatible with you. And if this is increasingly happening, there are probably some logical reasons why.
These feelings can be more difficult to comprehend if the other person is nice and seem like a good fit for you on paper. It may even make you want to justify the existence and continuation of the relationship. But, your heart knows when something is or isn’t right. And your intuition will always be your better guide. If being with someone continually makes you feel worse, they don’t compliment who you are, or add to your happiness it’s time to decide to let go.
There are so many people who suffer in relationships knowing that it isn’t right for them for many different reasons. However, they justify it based on superficial reasons. For example, if your significant other is taking care of you materially, and this is one of the few things you can point to that they bring to the table, this is a limited perspective. Some level of financial security matters, but if that’s the only or strongest component of your relationship and it is devoid of other things such as kindness, consideration, emotional support, and unconditional love, you’re missing on the other aspects of love that also matter.
Leaving a relationship where you love someone can be one of the hardest things to do. There can be a real fear of loneliness, not finding someone who can love you, and feel like you have to settle because you feel like you have limited options.
But, it’s important to remember that you never have to settle for someone who isn’t the right fit for you. Once you disconnect from someone who you know isn’t for you, your life takes on an entirely different outlook. You allow room for someone who can give you the connection you need and most importantly deserve. And that is something worth having!