How do you know it’s time to end a relationship?

How do you know it’s time to end a relationship? 1
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Crisis periods in any relationship are normal; we all go through misunderstandings and arguments from time to time. But sometimes the crisis lingers. Instead of easing life and making it happier, relationships become a burden, ‘yet another’ problem that lowers the quality of life.

That’s why sometimes it’s important to break out of the familiar routine and take a sober look at the relationship with your loved one: to change something for the better or truly bid farewell.

You feel unhappy

How would you describe your emotional state in terms of the past weeks/months/years?

Listen to your feelings. If life has seemed gloomy for a long time, if you constantly feel tired, sad, apathetic, anxious, internally tense, and don’t feel hopeful that things will change soon — this is a very worrying sign.

Close relationships have a specific function: to ease your life, fill you with strength, and bring you closer to a state of satisfaction with life, and happiness.

And if this isn’t happening, it’s worth asking yourself, “Why?” Perhaps the reason lies in your negative beliefs and life mistakes. But the key negative factor may be relationships that aren’t fulfilling their function.

You don’t want to share your joys and problems

Full-fledged healthy relationships are primarily about emotional intimacy, feeling love, and warmth.

But what if that’s not there?

You don’t want to share joyful experiences and events because you know your partner will devalue your joy. He’ll call reasons for excitement trivial, achievements too small and unconvincing, and bright feelings childish and immature.

You don’t want to share your problems and negative emotions because you know your partner will judge you rather than support you. He won’t stand by your side and won’t try to see the situation from your perspective. He’ll add their criticism to the weight of the problem. Moreover, he’ll say that your negative feelings are groundless and don’t deserve attention.

If this is happening in your relationship, it’s worth asking: where do you then draw strength, attention, and support? Or are you simply depriving yourself of these needs?

You feel constrained, unable to relax and be yourself

When there’s no trust and acceptance in a relationship, partners don’t feel free.

How to recognize this:

You can’t openly discuss uncomfortable moments with your partner for fear of judgment and scandal.

You’re afraid of “saying the wrong thing” and attracting your partner’s annoyance, offense, or anger, always keeping taboo topics in mind.

Likewise, you can’t express your opinion out loud on certain issues because you fear ridicule.

Not only that, but you’re embarrassed to discuss your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances with your partner.

Furthermore, you suspect your partner of infidelity and monitor them, read their messages — or your partner applies hyper-control towards you.

Lack of trust and acceptance can even manifest on a physical level: you feel muscle tension next to your partner, hunch over and huddle your head into your shoulders, clench your jaw, furrow your brow, and feel like an awkward person with impaired coordination of movements.

You don’t want to spend time together

Another worrisome sign is that you no longer enjoy communication. You don’t look forward to meetings, don’t make plans for joint leisure activities. You invent reasons to leave home or avoid meetings. When you’re home before your partner, you want them to come later, so you can have more time alone. You rejoice at any opportunity to be alone.

But these signs can also be explained by a lack of personal space; for example, if you’re an introvert, solitude helps you fully relax and recharge. If you feel too “crowded,” this important point is worth discussing honestly with your partner.

Your self-esteem decreases in the context of communication

Close people are our support. But if there’s no sincere support and acceptance in relationships, they destroy us from within:

You constantly think about how you look, speak, and move, feeling uncomfortable in your own body.

You develop or exacerbate complexes related to your appearance, behavior, and intellectual abilities.

With anxiety, you think about how to “earn” your partner’s love and respect, afraid of losing their favor.

You compare yourself to other people and consider yourself not good enough as a partner/friend/family member/employee.

You often think that you simply don’t deserve a good relationship, respect, and love: “Who else will love me,” “I want too much.”

The most obvious sign is a feeling of oppression, sadness, helplessness, and inadequacy after interacting with someone.

You feel irritation and contempt

You may experience these negative emotions yourself or feel them from your partner.

Irritation is characteristic of relationships in which one partner is unwilling to accept the other as a completely separate individual and/or initially has a set of inflated expectations.

Contempt is an even more serious issue. You begin to disdain the emotions, needs, interests, and dreams, as well as the social circle of another person. You refuse to compromise, may feel awkward for the person when interacting with others, or experience this whole spectrum towards yourself.

This indicates a loss of respect for the individual: against the backdrop of offenses, non-compliance with agreements, broken promises, unacceptable behavior, and way of thinking.

You start “acting out of spite”

Such behavior often indicates a lack of sincerity and trust in the relationship. A person cannot honestly and openly express their opinion, communicate their needs and desires, or make independent decisions because they expect reproaches, devaluing comments, and contempt.

As a result, one or both partners begin to “act out of spite” — this is a form of protest. We want to prove our point and express our beliefs/needs but are not able to do so directly.

Such actions can also be a form of revenge for offenses, violations of personal boundaries, mutual agreements, and commitments.

In your relationship, there has been a decrease in intimate/tactile closeness, and it’s not just about sex

Primarily, during a prolonged crisis and when feelings have cooled off, emotional closeness diminishes, which is expressed through tender touches, hugs, and kisses.

Of course, everyone has their own “love language,” and if the tactile expression of feelings wasn’t initially close to you or your partner, that’s normal. But if tactile contact used to be more frequent and has dwindled over time, it’s a reason to reflect. What has changed?

Thoughts of breaking up bring relief, but circumstances hold you back

When relationships run their course, you might find yourself seeing major arguments as a hope for closure.

The thought of breaking up itself can bring pleasant excitement and relief, hope for pleasant — albeit not always easy — life changes.

But in long-term relationships, partners often convince themselves to maintain the connection out of fear of drastic life changes.

You should be wary if, when considering a breakup, your first thoughts revolve around life circumstances that keep you together: raising children, pets, joint projects, shared property, and values.

Violence in any form

And, of course, an important warning sign — any forms of violence in relationships:

Emotional — mockery, ridicule, reproach, insults, pressure to feel guilt and shame, emotional blackmail, conversations in raised voices;

Physical — not only hitting and beating but even damaging property in the heat of emotions, throwing objects, “threatening” a person;

Sexual and reproductive — touching and urging for intimacy without the partner’s desire and consent, blackmailing with intimacy, persistent persuasion to have a child, and refusal of contraception despite mutual agreements;

Financial — unilateral control over all financial decisions and expenses, using personal funds without agreement, the need to “beg” for personal/common funds to satisfy personal needs, and financial blackmail.

How to understand if it’s worth ending the relationship?

Even if you’ve found that the relationship has reached a dead end, don’t rush with categorical decisions. First, it’s worth considering everything and asking yourself a series of questions.

Reflect on your feelings

    Why are these relationships important to me? What did they give me at the beginning, and what do I get from them now? How long have I been feeling uncomfortable? What exactly is causing my discomfort? How unacceptable are these factors to me?

    Evaluate your actions

      Have I made attempts to resolve the situation together with my partner? Have we honestly and openly discussed our problems, or am I suppressing my feelings? Have we tried to find a compromise? If yes, why didn’t it work out?

      Think about your values

        What are my priorities, what do I value most in life and people right now? Why did I want to avoid a breakup? Do I want to preserve the relationship, the sense of stability, mental health, a complete family, and familial/friendly ties? Is it worth sacrificing my mental well-being for this?

        Evaluate your determination

          Am I willing to try to solve the problem, to continue working on these relationships?

          Is my partner ready for this?