I’ve been the girl in relationships that dragged on longer than they should have. I ignored the obvious signs; opting to fight for something that wasn’t worth fighting for.
Breaking up is a hard decision to make and even harder to determine when it needs to happen.
Because some relationships are worth fighting for; every couple will go through a rough patch. But many people stay in toxic relationships, simply because they’re scared to be alone or can’t recognize things aren’t working anymore.
So how is it that we differentiate the two?
I’ve found that there’s a few, non-negotiable red flags that, if spotted, make this decision a whole lot easier.
The Bad Outweighs The Good
Back in college, I was a soldier. I went to school full-time with an extra class on top of that. I managed a part-time job that I braved the Los Angeles traffic to get to. I ran a vegan food blog that required a constant flow of content. I secretly struggled with an eating disorder. And I came home every day to an emotionally abusive relationship.
At the time, I had a lot on my plate. I could barely balance all my responsibilities and stop to take note of my relationship. Had I sat down and thought about the state of it, I would’ve quickly realized that I cried a lot more than I laughed.
Fights are healthy but too many can become an unhealthy pattern.
Relationships aren’t meant to be draining. You shouldn’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells. And you sure as hell should be smiling more often than frowning.
So if the bad times outweigh the good, consider if the relationship is healthy and worth continuing.
You Have Different Values
I once dated a man who favored getting high and proving himself to the world over eating healthy and enjoying the present.
Needless to say, things didn’t last long. But it was a great eye-opener to how important it is for my partner and me to have the same kind of values.
I don’t believe couples should have everything in common; that would make for a boring relationship. It’s fun learning about your partner’s unique interests.
But values extend beyond interests; they’re the beliefs you hold for how you want to live your life. If your values clash with your partner’s, chances are things won’t work out in the long run.
You Have Vastly Different Life Goals
From what I’ve heard, differing opinions on marriage is quite the deal-breaker. I’ve never been in that position, but it’s pretty clear why that is.
Compatibility between two people is determined by things other than just chemistry and passion. You have to agree on larger life goals. Do you both want kids? Do you want to live in the city or the suburbs? Will one of you be the breadwinner or both?
You can live in the puppy dog stage of your relationship for quite some time; ignoring the more important matters for a long term relationship. But eventually, these things need to be discussed.
And if you can’t agree, then you may need to reconsider whether that person is meant to be your life-partner.
The Voice Inside Your Head Is Saying “Run”
Elizabeth Gilbert described laying on the ground in her bathroom floor, eyes filled with tears. Her inner voice kept saying “leave” when she would think about her marriage. Which prompted the whole premise to Eat, Pray, Love.
Feeling trapped isn’t healthy. End of story.
If you’re thinking about leaving and ignore that impulse, it’s going to cause you a lot of turmoil. If a relationship is meant to be, you won’t be hearing that voice telling you to leave. Maybe once in a blue moon, but more than once is a sign you shouldn’t ignore.
You Often Daydream About Cheating
There’s one thing to have a little office fantasy. There’s another to have that fantasy every day.
Wanting to cheat is a sign of issues with yourself or in your relationship. It’s not a healthy thing if it’s often happening.
I do think that if you’re continually thinking about cheating, you should consider what it is that you’re not getting from your current relationship. Then, have a talk with your partner.
But if you feel like it’s because you don’t want to be with your partner anymore, that’s a sign the relationship isn’t working anymore.
Your Significant Other Is Emotionally Abusive
Emotional abuse is as unacceptable as verbal abuse. In fact, it’s even more threatening to your well-being because it often goes undetected.
There’s never an excuse for emotional abuse. And if you’re in a relationship with someone who is, your partner’s issues are deep-rooted. It’s not a simple, one-two fix. Often, the other person needs therapy and to dive deep into their own traumas.
And I don’t think the partner of someone who is emotionally abusive should be the one to try to get them help. That’s a nearly impossible feat. And you deserve your own happiness.
Your Partner Has Closed Off Or Given Up
You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to be helped. At some point, you have to realize if you’re the only one fighting for the relationship.
Being the only one that brings up issues, your partner refusing to communicate how they feel, or refusing to grow with you — as partners or individuals — is indicative of a one-sided relationship.
It’s important that your partner wants the relationship as much as you. If not, it’s time to find someone else that is willing to put in the work that you’re putting in.