Falling in love may be effortless, but maintaining a relationship takes communication and effort from both parties. Feeling unhappy in your private life can poison every area of your being. You become distracted at work, and you begin to distance yourself from other people and hobbies you once loved.
How do you know when it’s time to break up? While your partner deserves an honest effort and explanation of your feelings, if they refuse to grow or even listen, you may need to walk away. Here are eight signs to help you answer, “Should I stay, or should I go?”
1. You Don’t Recognize Yourself
Once upon a time, you were an environmentalist heaven-bent on becoming the Lorax and speaking for the trees. Now, you rarely go on a hike, and you’ve stopped arguing when your mate tosses an empty beer can in the trash instead of the recycling bin.
Like it or not, your relationships change you — and who you choose to associate with determines whether for better or worse. Healthy partnerships lead to self-pruning, where you reduce or eliminate harmful behaviors and improve your esteem. Conversely, unhealthy ones can make you adopt habits like drinking too much or engaging in reckless activities.
2. You Need More Frequent “Breaks”
When you first met, you wanted to spend every moment with your partner. Now, you find yourself saying, “I could use some alone time this weekend,” two out of four weeks every month. You know you should want to spend time with your SO, but giving up your downtime to do so starts to feel like a chore instead of a pleasure.
If you find yourself wanting more time away from your partner, examine why. It could be a minor issue — they blare the television, which gives you migraines. Communication can fix such matters. However, if you avoid them because you don’t like who they are as a person, it may be time to move on.
3. They Resent Your Time Alone
Even in healthy relationships, people need some time alone. If your partner clings to you like a dryer sheet, they could have insecurities from past unions. Such behavior could also indicate dependent personality disorder, especially if they can’t make decisions like what to wear without your input.
Try communicating your needs in a non-threatening way by saying, “I love you very much, but I need some time alone with my thoughts.” Pay attention to their reaction. If they try to beg you into spending time with them instead, ask how long you can tolerate such demands.
4. You Feel Stuck in a One-Sided Dynamic
You wanted to live in the country, but your partner insisted on a downtown apartment. You can’t stand their heavy metal music blaring 24/7, but they claim they need it to fuel their creative fire — for that 2-page novel in progress for five years.
All relationships require give and take. However, if you feel like you’re always the one doing the giving, pay attention. Does your partner genuinely care about you, or do they see you as an accessory? If so, ask yourself if you want to be a handbag or briefcase.
5. You Have Radically Different Values
Did you read about couples divorcing over the way one partner voted for president in 2016? These stories are more common than you know. According to Wakefield Research, 11% of people in committed relationships split due to political differences. You can argue that this statistic reflects our polarized society, but it’s vital to stand up for your values.
6. You Fear Communicating Your Needs
You’ve felt something wasn’t right with your relationship for a while. However, every time you bring it up to your partner, they respond with an angry outburst. If you feel like you can’t speak up to get your needs met, it may be best to throw in the towel. Continuously suppressing your needs to avoid fireworks is frequently referred to as walking on eggshells, and it’s no way to live.
7. You Avoid Family or Your Friends Urge You to End Things
Maybe your family doesn’t bother inviting you to Thanksgiving dinner anymore because they know you won’t show. You feel embarrassed to take your partner around them, and you don’t want to leave your SO solo on holiday. When you do chat privately with friends, they urge you to break up.
Don’t automatically assume outside parties treat your partner unkindly due to ulterior motives. They generally have your best interests at heart, and as objective third-parties, they can see toxicity that you ignore.
8. Your Fights Become More Violent — or Abusive
Every couple argues. However, if your partner resorts to name-calling or physically strikes you, that’s abusive and not okay. Unfortunately, you might ignore red flags like punching walls and throwing things until you become enmeshed or say, “I do.” Then, when the violence turns toward you, you feel trapped and helpless.
The bottom line? As hard as it is, if your partner shows signs of potential abusiveness, it’s best to walk away.
Know When It’s Time to Break Up — Even When It’s Hard to Do
The course of true love never ran smoothly, and despite what the movies depict, sometimes, unions fail. Learn when you should walk away from the wrong relationship and free yourself to find a healthy one.