It’s a question in life that you never really want to answer…
When is it time to end a relationship?
Things build up. Something feels off. The magic has faded. Or maybe you’re just not happy anymore. Whatever it is that’s causing this burning question to rise to the top – it’s not going away. So you have to figure out if this skepticism is permanent, or just a phase. Tough call.
Relationships have rough patches all the time. In fact, I call them “growing pains.” Many relationships hit tumultuous times when two big personalities are adjusting to one another. It’s normal. So, trust me when I say: not every rough patch means the relationship should be over.
Alas, the question remains: When is it actually time to end a relationship? When is a rough patch no longer a rough patch, but a pattern?
Here is how you know when it’s time to end a relationship:
1. You don’t like yourself in the relationship.
You know how colors look differently when lined up next to each other? Your blue eyes POP when you’re wearing navy, hunter green, or purple – but they glaze over when wearing white or gray. The same happens with people.
People can complement our personalities in vastly different ways. Some can bring out the funny side of you, while others encourage that vulnerability and authenticity to seep out. Your partner has the most influence over this dynamic – so be honest with yourself when you ask – do you like yourself in this relationship?
Is your best self coming to light, or are you consistently coming face to face with your unfavorable side?
We all have flaws. We all have demons. It’s not that we want to completely erase them – but we don’t want to highlight them, either. And if our partner consistently brings out the worst in us, it’s going to be hard to thoroughly enjoy the relationship.
I want to make one thing exceptionally clear: this isn’t necessarily your partner’s fault. Your partner most likely cannot help how their personality complements yours. But regardless – you deserve to be in a relationship where you feel like a better person for it.
2. There isn’t perceived equity in effort.
Do you feel like you’re carrying the relationship? Are you the one always reaching out? Making plans? Showing affection? Sharing stories? Geeze. You must be exhausted.
People share and receive love in different ways. Your relationship does not need to be quid pro quo down the line. But if you don’t perceive that the relationship is equal – that is a massive problem.
Everyone is busy. Everyone has baggage. Everyone has obligations. But when you’re in a relationship, you make time for it, period. Otherwise you guys can just date and casually enjoy each other’s company while you keep on living your life. Relationships require effort and commitment. So if you’re not perceiving either – then what’s the point? You deserve to be courted just as much as you should be expected to court. Walking away at least gives you the opportunity to find a balanced relationship.
3. You don’t feel loved.
One of the best perks of being in a relationship is having the solid belief that you are *special.* They chose YOU. You get their kisses. You get their compliments. You get their affection. You are the one who gets to be their partner, and they get to be yours. You are Queen of the world!
So if you don’t feel this way, again, what’s the point?
Not feeling loved has got to be one of the worst feelings EVER. Yes, I am all for self-love and completely encourage women to love themselves so much that it doesn’t matter what other people think. But subjecting ourselves to feeling not loved on a daily basis just sounds like misery-poop stew.
That’s a hard pass from me. And it should be for you, too.
The reality is, life is hard. There are going to be moments in life where you don’t feel intelligent. You are going to have days when you think all of your hard work has been pointless. There will be months when you feel like absolutely nothing is going your way. I promise you, it will happen. So in those moments, the last thing you want is a partner who doesn’t help build you back up. It’s hard convincing ourselves of our worth – we don’t need the duty of convincing our partner, too.
Let them go, and find someone who is dead sure of your fabulousness.
4. You know you don’t love them.
Do not let guilt, fear, shame, or embarrassment keep you in a relationship. Not only are you doing yourself a disservice, but you are completely screwing over your partner, too.
Breakups are hard. People get their feelings hurt. But human beings are resilient. We are wired for survival. Emotional setbacks are difficult – but we bounce back. In fact, we were designed to bounce back. And the hurt that we suffer is *completely* worth it when we are finally able to find someone who treats us the way we deserve. But guess what? You – nor them – will get that opportunity if you hold onto a loveless relationship because you’re scared of short-term consequences.
I say this with love: Get over it.
You are going to hurt people, and people are going to hurt you. That’s life. So do what you know to be right and cut people free when you can’t give them what they need. And hope to goodness that they do the same for you.
5. You love them, but you don’t like them.
We all know there is a *massive* difference between like and love. You love your family – but you don’t always like your family. You like your next door neighbor, but you don’t love them (especially when their damn dog barks all day). (This is not a personal reference). (Ok, yes it definitely is).
So ask yourself, do you like your partner?
Do you admire their accomplishments? Do you think they are a good person? Do you like their friends? Are they nice to strangers? Do they tip their waitresses? Do you brag about them to your family?
If you are struggling to come up with concrete things that you like about your partner, that’s not a good sign. You need to love AND like your partner. (Leslie and Ben style!) Life is too long to be with someone you tolerate. They can have a good heart, and still not be the one for you. Give yourself permission to find someone who lights your haystack on fire AND is nice to your mother. They’re out there. But you won’t find them, unless you end it.
6. You are putting your life on pause.
Let’s get one thing straight: relationships are bonuses in life. The goal is to have an independently happy life, find someone who also has an independently happy life, and share your fabulously independent lives together.
So if your life is being put on hold completely because of their choices – that ain’t good.
It’s ok if there is a little give and take. Your relationship responsibilities won’t always be evenly distributed. But you should always be able to pursue your goals, keep moving forward, and build the life you envisioned while you are dating somebody else. The two are not even close to being mutually exclusive.
There’s another way of putting this: your significant other is holding you back.
You can love someone with all your heart, but they just might not be on your same frequency. This might not be their fault. It might not be anyone’s fault. But if you can’t ignore the reality that your life isn’t progressing the way it should because of this relationship – things aren’t going to get any better the longer you wait. You’re only going to fall further and further behind on your goals, and in the end, you will resent your partner for the lost time. Don’t do that to them. Don’t to that to yourself. End the relationship, and keep moving forward.
7. The negative outweighs the positive.
This is pretty self explanatory. If the fighting outweighs the kissing, the crying overshadows the laughing, the knots outweigh the butterflies – then it’s time to move on.
Most relationships aren’t meant to last. They are meant to teach you something, offer you some amazing memories, and fade away. Give the relationship the dignity it deserves and put it out of its misery. It’s dying out, and it deserves a proper goodbye instead of an explosive ending.
Yes, it’s hard. But you’re going to be just fine.