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When To Give Up on a Relationship (21 Reasons You Might Consider Breaking Up With Your Partner)

Last updated on September 21, 2022 by Sian Roelofsz

Most of us have been there - stuck in a relationship that no longer makes us happy or brings out the best in us.

Knowing when to give up on a relationship is key to your mental health and well-being.

Some romantic relationships come to a standing halt because of infidelity or dishonesty. Others, slowly fizzle out because two people are no longer compatible, or indifference sets in.

Whatever the reason, knowing when to leave or exploring the signs is key to your happiness.

21 Signs That It’s Time To Leave Your Relationship

1. There's no line of healthy communication.

Communication is fundamental to a happy, healthy relationship. Healthy communication allows you to share your feelings and expectations with your partner, without the fear of rejection or judgment.

"Communication problems are one of the top three causes of marriage failure in America." 

As important as being able to communicate is being heard. Your partner should be able to understand and internalize what you're saying.

The future a relationship holds is often tied to the ability two people have to communicate.

Here are some great conversation starters if you feel like you and your partner have run out of things to talk about. 

2. If the effort is one-sided in your romantic relationship.

If you're the only one putting effort into the relationship to keep it afloat, you might be better off letting it sink. 

Here are some red flags that the relationship you’re in is one-sided:

-   You’re the only one organizing date nights and general hangouts

-   You’re initiating all (or most) of the talking - in person or via text messages

-   You’re generally the first one to make amends after an argument - even if you’re not in the wrong

-   You rarely have opportunities to discuss what’s on your mind. Instead, you’re the one doing all the listening

-   You’re always the one initiating sex or intimacy of any sort

One-sided relationships can have a host of nasty effects on our lives, “You can become depressed, anxious, frightened and have poor sleep habits,” says Clinical psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD.

3. Your fundamental beliefs and values are different.

No matter how good things may be on the surface, if both you and your partner don’t have similar core values, your relationship may be doomed. 

Shared core values are the foundation of a long-lasting, harmonious relationship. These values inevitably determine your words, actions, and future. 

Some of the core beliefs that you might want to look at in comparison to your partner’s are: 

  • Finances
  • Family
  • Religion
  • Gender roles
  • Conflict resolution and communication styles
  • Lifestyle choices 
Couple Talking Outside

4. Cheating.

Infidelity will, almost always, cause a downward spiral in a relationship which can be very difficult to remedy and move on from. This very act might signal the beginning of the end. 

For most, cheating is the ultimate deal-breaker from which relationships will never recover. Infidelity leads to a lack of trust. “Trust takes time to develop in a relationship, but when one partner finds out the other has cheated, it can come crashing down in an instant.” 

You can expect a bumpy road ahead with a lot of hard work if you want things to work out again between the two of you. 

Realizing your partner is cheating is never easy, but if you’re having doubts you might want to read more about signs that can reaffirm this hypothesis. 

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5. Your relationship is causing you more pain than joy.

If the relationship you’re in is leaving you feeling sad, lonely, anxious, depressed, angry, or resentful (or a host of other negative emotions) more often than it leaves you feeling joyful, fulfilled, and positive, it’s a sure sign that something is wrong.

6. Abuse.

Abuse of any kind is inexcusable. That’s the simple answer. Whether it’s verbal, emotional, mental, financial, or physical abuse, none of it is okay. Abuse will wear you down over time. It will erode your confidence, self-worth, and mental health.  

Ongoing abuse of substances is also a major warning sign that you might want to look out for. Whether it’s the abuse of alcohol, drugs, or any other addictive behavior that your partner is displaying, you might want to seek help immediately. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a bad relationship that’s on a quick, downward slope. 

7. When the same issue occurs time and time again.

If you find you need to repeat yourself about an issue that bothers you, it may be because your partner doesn’t care enough - about you, or their behavior, or the relationship. If the signs aren’t there that they’re trying to implement what you have to say, it’s a red flag

Sit your partner down, have a frank conversation, and draw the line. Let them know how you feel and what the consequences will be should the situation reoccur. If your partner shows no sign of adjusting the behavior that’s bothering you or violates your boundaries, you might need to make conclusions and act accordingly. 

8. When there’s no physical intimacy.

If you’re in a relationship where physical intimacy is non-existent, it’s time both you and your partner talk. A sexless relationship can quickly turn a romantic relationship into a friendship. Worse, it can make you and your partner feel disconnected, resentful, and insecure. 

“Sex can be powerful enough to make you love someone, bring you together, and help you to repair a relationship. So it is not surprising that when sex or desire falters for one or both of you it can feel very destructive and damaging.” 

While sexual desire can ebb and flow for various reasons, you should still be attracted to your partner and have a desire for a certain level of intimacy. On the other hand, if the thought of intimacy of any kind with your partner is off-putting, then perhaps they are not the right person for you, romantically. 

Understanding your partner’s sexual desires and turn-ons can reignite the passion in the bedroom. So before jumping to any conclusions, maybe explore this area to see where the underlying issue is.

Couples Sitting On A Bench

9. You’re holding on because of the past.

If you find yourself holding onto a relationship simply because things were wonderful in the past but your current reality isn’t the same pretty picture, you might want to think twice about staying any longer. While it’s wonderful to revisit happy memories from the past, you shouldn’t get stuck there or fixate on those times as a way to escape your present. 

10. You fight non-stop.

While arguments are normal and to be expected in relationships, constant fighting isn't healthy and can quickly create a toxic home environment. 

Constant fighting in a relationship could be a result of mismatched communication styles or because you and/or your partner's needs aren’t being met and fulfilled. 

11. You’re indifferent.

The opposite of love isn’t hate, the opposite of love is, in fact, indifference. 

You might find that you and your partner never fight but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. When indifference sets in on a relationship you stop fighting because you couldn’t care less - about your partner or the relationship. 

Some common signs of indifference are lack of intimacy; lack of communication; no nagging / arguing or fighting; silence; ending of traditions and date nights; use of the word ‘whatever’ as a standard answer to almost anything; and little to no time spent together. 

Indifference is not a good state to be in. You’re better off alone than drifting through the motions of an indifferent relationship (which can cause a host of negative, long-term emotional effects). 

12. You cannot imagine a future with your partner.

When you dream about all you want to do, see and achieve in your future and you can’t visualize any of it with your partner alongside you, perhaps the right decision is then to call the relationship quits before it hinders your progress and stalls the realization of your dreams. 

If marrying them; traveling with them; having kids with them; building a home and growing old with them just doesn’t sit right with you, trusting your gut feel on this one might give you the answers you need. 

13. You’re waiting on them to change.

The age-old saying “a leopard never changes its spots” is sage advice. You should never enter into, or remain in, a relationship with the hopes or expectations that your partner will change, especially when it comes to those core beliefs we spoke about earlier. Suggesting they change who they are can be unfair and even disrespectful.

Expecting your partner to change can cause emotional disconnection and damage to the relationship. Change is hard and it's unlikely to happen when it doesn't come from within. 

If you don't like the person you're in an intimate relationship with then maybe you aren’t supposed to be in that relationship at all. 

14. When everything they do annoys you.

Woman Annoyed With Boyfriend Talking

Perhaps you were so infatuated with your partner when you first met them that you didn’t even notice their loud chewing, unhygienic habits, or constant humming. However, as time has moved on, those habits now annoy you to the point of full-blown rage (well, maybe not quite). In fact, almost everything they do annoys you - the way they talk, walk and breathe. 

Relationships aren’t perfect but if your partner annoys you to this extent it might not be the long-lasting love affair you were hoping for. 

15. You would rather spend time alone or with friends than with your partner.

While many people need to spend time alone from time to time to recharge - which is normal and healthy - if you’re finding you’d rather be alone or with people other than your partner regularly, it’s a sign that something is off. 

16. You don’t understand each other's love languages.

The 5 love languages - gift giving; words of affirmation; acts of service; physical touch; and quality time - are how people typically give and need to receive love.

Understanding what your love language is and conveying it to your partner and vice-versa is a great step to ensuring that you receive love in a way that makes you feel valued and important. 

If you don’t take time out to listen to and understand your partner’s love language, you risk having a relationship that feels unfulfilling and empty. 

17. You aren’t a priority to your partner.

When you’re in a relationship you’d expect to be a priority in your partner’s life. However, if any of these signs are showing up, it may be an indication that you don’t feature at the top of their priority list: 

  • They never invite you to family events 
  • They only schedule last-minute plans with you
  • They forget about special occasions 
  • Relationship labels are not spoken about
  • You feel like the relationship is only physical 
  • Plans are often canceled or rescheduled 
  • You feel hidden away from their social lives 

18. You don’t feel it in your gut.

Gut feelings are powerful indicators of whether something is right for you. It’s no wonder these feelings/sensations are sometimes referred to as your sixth sense. If your gut is telling you that this person/relationship is not the one for you, I would suggest you listen. 

19. You no longer have fun together.

It’s vital to remember to have fun together with your loved one. Keep things feeling light and find moments to laugh together. Life can be hard and serious enough as is, love doesn’t have to be like that (at least not all the time). 

Prioritizing joy is one of the most important things you can do for the success and longevity of a relationship. After all, it’s why you got into a relationship in the first place - to have someone to share life's joys with.

If you and your partner never have fun together you may begin to feel unsatisfied. 

20. One of you wants to leave the relationship and the other wants to stay.

This can be a difficult scenario to find yourself in. If you’re the one wanting to stay you may feel intense loss, fear, and loneliness. Comprehending your partner’s reasons for wanting to leave may seem impossible.

On the other hand, if you’re the one wanting to leave you might feel suffocated at the thought of staying. 

Either way, this scenario can create a power imbalance in a relationship. The two of you will need to engage in open, honest, vulnerable conversations about moving forward. 

Man Arguing With His Girlfriend

21. If you keep making excuses for his/her behavior.

Do you keep making excuses for your partner's poor behavior? Do you defend your partner's questionable actions in front of friends and family?

Acknowledging that your partner's behavior isn't acceptable is a difficult thing to do. However, it's far better for your future (with or without them) than living in denial.

By acknowledging the above you can choose to work on these issues together or move on if it doesn’t help.

FAQs

How do you know when to give up on a relationship?

If you have tried everything you can to make your relationship work, with or without your partner’s cooperation, but things don’t seem to be going anywhere. Or, if you have zero desire whatsoever to make things work. Or, if something has happened that you feel is inexcusable. Any of these would be tell-tale signs that it's time to move on.

How do you know when not to give up on a relationship?

Don’t give up on your relationship if the positive/good times outweigh the negative. Or, if you’re in a bad patch but you and your partner agree to work on your relationship. Relationships all come with their challenges. The important thing is being able to navigate through tough times and come out stronger, together

What are good reasons to end a relationship?

There is no good or bad reason to end a relationship. Ultimately, if your heart is no longer in it or if you don’t feel it in your gut, these would be good enough reasons to end a relationship. Any of the 21 above-mentioned factors are valid indicators that a relationship might not be working out the way you intended them to.

What are the red flags in a relationship?

A red flag signals a potential problem that may become a harmful, recurring theme in a relationship. Some common red flags to look out for include:
- Narcissistic or controlling behavior
- Abuse of any kind
- Extreme jealousy
- Anger management problems
- Lack of EQ

How do you tell if you're falling out of love?

If you keep comparing your partner to others; if physical intimacy no longer exists; if you don’t care about them like you used to; if you feel indifferent toward them; if a future with them feels unexciting... Any of these could be an indicator that you've fallen out of love.

Some Final Thoughts

If one or more of the above signs is true for you, even after putting in the needed relationship work, you’ll be happier if you put yourself first and understand what’s best for you, even if it means giving up on the relationship. Even though relationships all come with their challenges and there aren’t general rules that apply to all, you still need to feel content in the relationship. And if the negative outweighs the positive experiences, it might be time for a change. 

I hope you enjoyed the article. Please comment below and let us know your thoughts. Oh, and if you liked it, give it a share… you never know who’s going through a similar situation right now.

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Sian Roelofsz
Hello, I'm Sian! I've worked in the media industry for the past 6 years and my love for writing, coupled with many interesting dating experiences over the past decade, has led me here. I hope to give you some fabulous dating tips that'll help you navigate the complex world of relationships and hopefully, lead you to 'the one'. I'm a single mama and now work from home in sunny South Africa. I've managed to go on enough dates to figure out what works, what doesn't, and what'll seal the deal!

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