The breakup scene is a common one in movies and on TV, and just like rappelling from a building, they tend to make it look a lot easier than it actually is. You know how it goes: one of them fights and fights to preserve the relationship, but finally reaches their breaking point and says something like “You know what? We’re done.”
Despite how straightforward breakups appear to be in romantic comedies, the truth is, deciding whether or not to end a relationship usually isn’t easy. Sure, there are cases where it’s clear that the relationship isn’t working out for either of you (or, worse, the relationship is abusive), but not every relationship is like that. Sometimes, it can be tough to figure out if you’re just going through a rough patch or if the relationship truly has run its course.
Taking a closer look at things can help you decide if it’s time to break up. All it takes is some careful – and honest – examination of your relationship. Here are a few of the major red flags that might indicate it’s time to call it quits.
You Keep Wondering “What If?”
It’s natural to entertain the idea of what your life would be like without your significant other – many of us do it. In most cases, we consider the thought through a lens of “how much worse would my life be if I didn’t have them?”
Even after a heated argument, we might briefly wonder “what if I didn’t have to deal with this?”; in good relationships, though, that thought is usually followed by a “Well, then [Thing A] would be worse, [Thing B] would suck, I wouldn’t get to enjoy [Thing C],” and so on.
Point is, it’s normal to occasionally think about what your life might be like if you weren’t with your partner. Where it becomes a problem, however, is when you start asking yourself that question not out of frustration, but out of a sense of longing. If you find yourself wistfully daydreaming about the ways your life could be better if you weren’t in your relationship, your brain – and your heart – might be trying to tell you something.
Your Goals Don’t Align – And It’s Not Okay
When you’re in a relationship, there are probably going to be times when one of you will need to sacrifice some element of that future picture for the good of the other. That’s what happens when you try to combine two separate lives and personalities into one unit. In healthy relationships, each person knows when to pick their battles – they prioritize their partner’s happiness over, say, the kind of rug they want for the living room.
But if you each have goals that would require the other person to compromise on their dream in order for you to achieve yours, and both of you are refusing to budge? That could be a sign of a rocky relationship.
Relationships are a give-and-take; if you’ve reached a point where neither of you is willing to give (or one of you is giving too much), it might be time to reassess whether they’re the right person for you.
You’re Going Through The Motions
Maybe one (or both) of you is stressed about something external, or maybe you’re just falling into a bit of a rut. That alone isn’t a sign of a relationship on its last legs; every relationship has lulls. It’s how we react to those lulls that determines what happens next.
In a good relationship, once you notice you’re in a rut, you’ll adjust – maybe you’ll plan more activities, try to spice things up in the bedroom, or just make more of an effort to step outside your comfort zone in order to keep things fresh. And that’s the key word here: effort. You’ll put in the extra work because you want the relationship to succeed.
It can be tough to tell if you’re just in a rut or if it’s a sign of something more serious. But as a rule of thumb, if you’re blasé about getting out of the rut and just going through the motions, it might be time to reassess whether the relationship is something you want. After all, if the effort isn’t there, then there’s a good chance that the desire for the relationship to succeed is missing, too.
Everything Drives You Nuts
If you spend enough time with someone, the little “quirks” that you might have found cute early on can start to wear on you. In some cases, we find a certain behavior annoying, but the person is interesting and perfect enough otherwise that we ignore it; in other cases, we don’t realize that it bothers us until later on.
It’s completely normal to be irritated by a particular behavior your partner exhibits (“Why doesn’t she throw away her seltzer cans when she’s done with them?”). What’s not normal is to be irritated by every behavior your partner exhibits (“Look at that asshole, just breathing with his stupid fucking face.“).
If a certain behavior bothers you enough, you should feel comfortable talking to your partner about it. But if you’ve reached a point where anything they do is enough to drive you up a wall (or if you’ve spoken to them and they ignored you), it might be time to call it quits. And speaking of poor communication…
You Feel Like You Know All You Need To Know About Them
Communication is vital to the success of a relationship. But true communication doesn’t just mean talking to your partner – it means sharing with your partner, telling them something new about you and learning something new about them in the process.
Talking without sharing can be a sign that you’re no longer that concerned with sharing your thoughts with them; moreover, it can also be a sign that you’re not really interested in learning more about your partner. You should be excited to learn new things about your partner, because every new thing you learn helps you forge a stronger connection with them. (Except if they’re, like, a horrible racist or something. Unless you’re also a horrible racist, in which case, it still works.)
If the prospect of sharing with your partner doesn’t interest you anymore, then the communication is bound to fail – if it hasn’t already. And without good communication, a good relationship is almost impossible.
Whether or not you decide to break up with your partner is up to you; only you can decide what’s best for your happiness and well-being. But if you’re starting to have doubts about whether they’re The One, run through this checklist. Odds are, you’ll either reaffirm that the relationship is solid or you’ll know for sure that it’s time to move on.