You’ve done everything you know to do to save your relationship, but you feel it slipping away each day.
You can only control so much, after all.
And not all relationships are meant to last forever.
Still, you’d like to know for certain whether it’s time to let go of your partner. How will you know when to end a relationship and move on?
And how can you minimize the trauma for everyone involved?
Wondering If It's Time to End a Relationship?
As hard as it is sometimes to allow ourselves to take this step, there are many legitimate reasons to end a relationship.
It’s not all on you to make sure your marriage or partnership overcomes every challenge.
If you’re wondering how to know when to give up on a relationship, you may already be leaning in that direction.
After all, even the closest couples can drift apart.
People change, and sometimes those changes require a change in the relationship.
When you were just starting out, it seemed impossible that anything could come between you.
But now, something has. And you can’t fix it.
So, it might be time to let go and give both of you a chance to heal and grow in different directions.
- Wondering If It's Time to End a Relationship?
- 1. Refusal to Forgive or Inability to Move On
- 2. Ineffective Couples’ Counseling
- 3. Interest in Another Person
- 4. From Small Irritations to Major Stumbling Blocks
- 5. Mutually Exclusive but Important Needs
- 6. Disillusionment or Diminishing Illusions
- 7. External stressors
- 8. Power struggles
- 9. Physical or Emotional Abuse
- 10. Reverting to Superficial Interactions
- 11. Boredom and Restlessness
- 12. Deadness
- 13. Addictive Behavior That Takes Priority over the Relationship
- 14. Escalating Misunderstandings and Assumptions
14 Signs It May Be Time To End A Relationship
You likely already know general rules on when to leave a relationship, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always see the signs that your own relationship should end.
We can all be a bit blind when it comes to our own intimate relationships.
We want for our investment in the other person to make everything work out.
We want to believe things can get better. But sometimes, they don’t.
If it’s time to end your relationship, at least one of the following signs will sound familiar.
1. Refusal to Forgive or Inability to Move On
If you’re still hurting from a deep wound caused by your partner, and you’re wanting to avoid being hurt that way again, rebuilding the trust will take more than your forgiveness.
You might still love each other. And you might sincerely want to remain friends.
But you’re under no obligation to make the same risk that resulted in the hurt you’re still feeling — or in the emotional scar tissue that stands in the way of the closeness you used to have.
No one gets to shame you if you need to set up boundaries in order to heal.
And sometimes those boundaries are incompatible with an intimate relationship.
2. Ineffective Couples’ Counseling
Sometimes couples’ counseling can get a relationship back on track. But sometimes it can’t.
If you’ve tried counseling but it only served to highlight or even deepen the cracks in your relationship, you don’t have to fight it.
Not every relationship (even those involving children) is meant to last forever.
And involving a counselor may do nothing but confirm what you already know to be true.
It’s time to end it.
3. Interest in Another Person
You may want hard evidence that your partner has already transferred affections to someone else.
But you don’t need to hire a private detective or get your partner to confess.
Trust your instincts, even if no one else in your life trusts them — even if your partner and their family thinks you’re overreacting.
If your partner is dismissing your concerns and continuing to show interest in the other person, you owe it to yourself (and to any children you have) to end the relationship.
4. From Small Irritations to Major Stumbling Blocks
Early in the relationship, it’s easy to dismiss small irritations, even when your partner makes no attempt to correct them when you gently ask them to.
Thoughtless or selfish behavior that goes uncorrected, though, can deepen the rift between you and make it difficult (if not impossible) to feel united or loved.
Even if you’ve both learned each other’s love language, if one or both of you has decided it’s no longer worth the effort to use it, it’s time to discuss the possibility that the relationship has run its course.
5. Mutually Exclusive but Important Needs
Maybe one of you has a strong desire for physical intimacy, but the other would just as soon avoid sex and express their love in non-physical ways.
Or maybe one of you wants lots of couple time, but the other needs more alone time to recharge.
If your needs or strong desires conflict with your partner’s, it’s important to discuss what to do about it.
You don’t have to “make it work” if you keep running into the same conflicts.
And if you can’t reach a compromise that will meet both your needs, it may be time to move on.
6. Disillusionment or Diminishing Illusions
You had certain ideas of each other when the relationship was in its early days.
But as you get to know each other while living in the same space, those illusions fade.
You see your partner as they truly are when they’re not on their best behavior.
Your partner sees you on your bad days. And the conflicts grow more frequent and intense.
You feel robbed of the person you thought you’d found, and your partner may feel the same.
The real people you both are do not get along. You’re not best friends.
And the cost of staying together has gotten too high.
7. External stressors
Plenty of external stressors can wreak havoc on a relationship.
And as much as one or both of you may want your relationship to weather any storm, one of you may want something else more.
And there may be good reason for that. The one who wants out is not the enemy.
If your partner insists on staying together no matter what, but you see nothing in that but needless pain and suffering for both of you, you have the right to end it.
8. Power struggles
If your partner insists on having the final word in every argument and decision as the “head of the family” or as “she who must be obeyed,” your relationship is in trouble.
It’s no longer a give-and-take relationship; it’s a head-butting power struggle.
And sometimes the only solution is to end the relationship your partner is intent on dominating.
It’s possible that in openly challenging your partner and reminding them you are no one’s doormat, you can wake them up and show them a different path to take.
But if they insist on winning all the time — at your expense — it’s time to say goodbye.
9. Physical or Emotional Abuse
Obviously, if your partner is abusive in any way (physical, mental, or emotional), you’re under no obligation to reform them or to stay together “for better or for worse.”
Especially if children are involved, you owe it to them to find a safer and healthier environment in which to grow. But don’t discount your own need for that, too.
If your partner refuses to cease and desist with the abuse, no one should expect you to stick around and take it — or to wait until it becomes necessary to call the police.
10. Reverting to Superficial Interactions
If you no longer trust your partner (or vice-versa), your interactions are likely to be superficial — civil or even friendly but not close and comfortable.
You have your doubts that you’ll ever allow yourself to be vulnerable with the person you used to trust wholeheartedly.
You can forgive, but you won’t leave yourself at your partner’s mercy ever again.
So, the walls stay up. And your inner world is a no-fly zone.
Don’t be surprised if one or both of you decide that whatever you still have isn’t enough.
11. Boredom and Restlessness
If you or your partner is bored of your relationship or restless whenever you spend time together, it’s time to get to the root of that.
You’ll both need to be honest with each other about the reason for the boredom or restlessness and how it makes the other one feel.
If one or both of you find yourselves resenting the need to spend time together (to “make this work”), it’s time to seriously consider moving on in different directions.
If you no longer feel anything for your partner (or vice-versa) and nothing you do rekindles what you once had, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that.
This isn’t the same as the occasional dry spell that most couples have, when romantic feelings are at an all-time low, and they need time to reflect and regroup.
This is a pervasive and unfixable lack of feeling — often due to a loss of trust and of the connection that used to be there.
Either one or both of you are numb around the other, and even the desire to feel something is gone. The relationship is already dead.
13. Addictive Behavior That Takes Priority over the Relationship
If one or both of you are exhibiting addictive behavior to cope with the stress of staying together, that’s enough of a red flag.
If holding onto these escapes has become more important than salvaging what’s left of your relationship, it’s time to let go.
You’re likely not going to feel a need to let go of that escape until you’re free of a connection you no longer want.
Better to lose both. Letting go of what your relationship “could have been” may be the price you have to pay to break free of your addiction.
Make a life you don’t want to escape from.
14. Escalating Misunderstandings and Assumptions
Sometimes, no matter what you say or do, your partner will mistake your meaning or your intent.
But when they respond to everything you say or do with assumptions or misinterpretations, it’s time to sit down and get brutally honest with each other.
And that honesty might lead to a break-up. It’s not the worst thing that could happen.
What’s worse is if you spent more of your life in a relationship with someone who doesn’t value or even try to understand you.
When everything you say or do is wrong, just being around your partner is exhausting. And eventually, it’ll destroy your health.
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Do you know when to end a relationship?
Now that you have a better idea of when to end a relationship, which of these signs struck you as most familiar?
No one can blame you for wanting to save your relationship.
But you’re not the only one responsible for it. And even if you both try to make it work, sometimes the forces dividing you are stronger.
Sometimes separating is what’s best for you both.
It doesn’t mean you failed. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to love or trust anyone again.
The way forward for both of you doesn’t have to be on the same path.
May you be open to stepping into unfamiliar territory for both your sakes.
And may you both gain more than you lose.