14 Signs You Should Break Up and 12 Signs You Should Stay With Your Partner

Relationship Rules
16 Dec 2023
11 min read

It started out as such a fulfilling relationship. The two of you couldn’t get enough of each other. When you weren’t hanging out in person, you were texting non-stop. And the conversations lasted for hours. You were even thinking about making plans for the future. Now, it’s just not the same anymore. Things between you are different, and you wonder if it’s time to think about ending things. What should you do? Are their mistakes the signs you should break up with them?

No, please, no. Nobody wants to be the one to break things off. What if there’s still a chance? But again, calling it quits can be the best decision when you recognize there’s no hope. It’s better to end a relationship with fewer hard feelings than to keep a toxic situation going.

So, how do you know the difference? When do you keep working, and when do you tell your partner it’s over? Here are some important signs to look for.

14 Signs You Should Break Up as Soon as Possible

All relationships have challenges, but some things are more than a sign of a rough patch. These 14 red flags indicate that this is not the right person for you.

Related reading: 14 Red Flags in Your New Male Squeeze
14 Red Flags in Women – Here’s Your Checklist

1. You Feel Stuck in This Relationship

Deep down, you know you would get out if you could. It’s just that something is keeping you from moving on. If it’s just the inertia keeping you where you are, either way, you aren’t staying for anything good. And there is a good chance your partner feels the same way.

It could be something practical like finances – or maybe it’s your mental health that’s preventing you from leaving a bad relationship.

2. Your Core Values Don’t Match

“I cannot compromise my respect for your love. You can keep your love, I will keep my respect.”

Amit Kalantri, author

There’s nothing wrong with having differences of opinion. These can lead to great conversations and make relationships interesting. This is true until those differences of opinion show the two of you have very different values.

It’s one thing to disagree about the best band or whether Disney World or Disneyland is better. It’s another to have different morals and opposing world views. Do you see yourself compromising your deeply held beliefs? Of course not! They’re not going to do that either.

3. Only Obligation Is Keeping You Together

You don’t have a future together if your only connection is an obligation. That’s not how you have a healthy relationship.

Yes, if you have legal or financial entanglements with another person, you’re going to have to handle your breakup with tact and care. However, it isn’t healthy for you or fair to your partner if you aren’t willing to have an honest conversation. You’ll need to put emotions aside and figure out how to separate in a way that works for you both.

Controlling behavior is one of the signs you should break up with your partner

4. Your Partner is Controlling or Abusive

Controlling behavior is a huge red flag and a reason to break up with someone immediately. If your partner makes you feel unsafe, disrespects your autonomy, or subjects you to physical or emotional abuse, it’s time to break things off.

Get support if it’s hard for you to leave them, but don’t wait for things to get worse.

5. There’s No Foundation of Trust or Respect

You don’t trust your partner. You feel as if you have to verify everything they tell you. In turn, your partner is snide and terse when they speak to you. Neither of you ever gives the other the benefit of the doubt. It’s gone beyond being easily irritated with each other. The two of you can’t even manage the basic courtesies.

Many couples get grumpy from time to time. But, if things are like this all of the time, do you even like each other? Maybe it’s time to end things between you.

Related reading: How to Build Trust in a Relationship: 15 Tips

6. You Give Your Best Efforts – They Don’t

You know things are wrong, actively work to figure things out, and are willing to have tough discussions. Meanwhile, your partner refuses to put forth any effort from their end.

It won’t work in the long tun if you’re constantly giving your all to fix things and your partner doesn’t meet you halfway. Even the most optimistic relationship experts will tell you that your relationship doesn’t have any hope in this scenario.

Related reading: Early Dating – Are You Making These 9 Mistakes?

7. Your Boundaries Are Meaningless to Them

Nobody is perfect. There are going to be times in any good relationship when one of you steps on the other’s boundaries. That may be from poor communication or just a lack of awareness of the other person’s feelings. Your relationship can survive that as long as you can talk things through and state your boundaries clearly.

The problem comes when it becomes clear you are in a relationship with someone who regularly oversteps and disregards your feelings. Worse, they tell you that you’re being difficult or dramatic. It’s perfectly reasonable to break up with someone who simply believes that your feelings are meaningless.

Related reading: Boundaries in Relationships – Keeping Them Healthy

8. It’s Never Fun or Exciting Anymore

Nobody should expect their relationship to be all fun all the time. That’s just not how adult relationships work. At the same time, if you never enjoy the time you spend together, something is deeply wrong.

It’s possible that you are just in a relationship slump, but you need to be honest with yourself. Is the lack of excitement situational, or have you fallen out of love?

If your emotional well-being is constantly under threat, it's a bad sign for your relationship

9. Their Choices Are Bringing You Down

In a healthy relationship, you know that the decisions you make impact another person. It doesn’t mean you lose your autonomy. You just have to be aware that you are in a relationship and think about how your actions affect your partner.

Maybe you do this, but what about your partner? If they make decisions that have a negative impact on you, that should give you pause. If they can’t give you that kind of consideration, there’s a deeper issue going on:

  • They may be too self-centered to consider your emotional needs.
  • They may simply not think that much of you.

Either way, this is an unhealthy relationship, and it’s time to break it off.

10. Your Lives Don’t Mesh

Romantic partners can get through a lot if they are truly in love. A relationship can survive long distances, working different shifts, and other challenges. Still, if there is no relief in sight, it can be difficult to keep things together. If you are constantly running in two different directions, planning activities or just enjoying quality time at home is impossible.

Eventually, there will be a choice to make. The two of you either figure out how to make time for one another, or you realize that this isn’t meant to be a long-term relationship.

Related reading: Does Distance Really Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

11. They Make You Feel Bad

“There is an ocean of silence between us… and I am drowning in it.”

Ranata Suzuki, author

You deserve to be in a relationship where your partner makes you feel good about yourself. When you spend time with them, that should make you happier. If you leave each encounter feeling demoralized and depressed, that’s a warning for you. Break this relationship off.

12. There’s Nothing More Than Sex or No Sex at All

Yes, you can have a happy, meaningful relationship with your partner without sex. Some people have romantic relationships that are platonic. That’s perfectly fine.

For other couples, sexual incompatibility can be a dealbreaker. A lack of sex can mean the spark has died. It may also signal that your emotional availability isn’t there or theirs is missing. Conversely, if all you do is have sex with your partner, that may be problematic as well. Are you having sex to avoid talking about your relationship? Do you have nothing else in common?

Related reading: Appreciating a Platonic Soulmate

13. Your Emotional Bond Is Unhealthy

People bond for different reasons. Not all of them contribute to anybody’s well-being or a healthy relationship. If you feel that your connection has certain unhealthy dynamics, it’s time to check if you are really happy in this relationship.

People bond over trauma, harmful behaviors, or addictions. They may be connected simply over the fear of being alone.

14. They Are Stuck on Past Romantic Partners

It’s okay to have some feelings about people you’ve dated in the past. Unfortunately, some people stay so emotionally invested after breaking up with someone that they can’t make future relationships work. If your lover mentions their ex from time to time, that’s fine.

You may share something, and they’ll bring them up in a related story. You can’t expect people to erase a vital part of their life and never speak of it. Still, you should have concerns if they:

  • Compare you to their ex in a negative way
  • Blame you for the hurt their ex caused them
  • Expect you to change how you act or dress to be more like their ex

If they aren’t able to get over their ex, it won’t matter how hard you try to fix them. Our advice is to consider breaking things off if they won’t do the work to move on with their life.

Related reading: Ex Still Renting Space in Your Head? 11 Tools to Break Free

Signs you should keep fighting for your long-term relationship

8 Reasons to Stick It Out, or How to Know If There’s Still a Chance

Some things are worth fighting for. You can forge a path forward with your partner with some work and healthy communication. Here are 8 signs that this could be the one partner for you.

1. You Can Talk to Your Partner About Your Problems

No relationship is free from problems. Ultimately, you can work most things out if both of you communicate with one another about your relationship and life issues.

If you are struggling with your relationship right now, think about how your partner responds to you:

  • Do they listen to you?
  • Can you bring up issues you have with them without them becoming defensive?

If so, this is such an important part of a good relationship. Just talk to your partner because it seems there isn’t much you can’t work out without the need to break things right away.

2. A Temporary Problem Is a Tension Reason

Are you and your partner struggling because of what’s going in or who you are? Relationships hit situational rough patches. That’s to be expected. These can be challenging, but they are worth sticking out if you both care deeply about one another. Remember that what is going on can be changed.

Unfortunately, a person’s core persona isn’t likely to change that much. If your relationship issues are about personalities, you may not be able to fix things. But if it’s a temporary career-related issue, it’s not worth breaking up and ending your marriage.

3. Mutual Respect and Trust Are Still There

In a good relationship, you respect the other person’s boundaries and they respect yours. Even when things aren’t great between you, there is an underlying trust. You know that the other person would never do anything to hurt you deliberately and that they will keep their word. This is foundational to a strong relationship. It’s also a strong sign that this relationship deserves a chance.

Ask your social circle if they feel you are in an unhealthy relationship before breaking up

4. Your Friends and Family Like Them

Yes, a truly manipulative person can charm your friends and family. Still, in most cases, it is a good sign for your relationship when your family and friends like your romantic partner. This is particularly true if you are marriage-minded. It means that they will enjoy spending time with the people you care about, and will easily become a part of your life. Likewise, you are going to have a better future if you get along with your lover’s family and friends too.

5. You And Your Partner Are Willing to Do the Work

“All the couples therapy and communication seminars in the world won’t save you if you aren’t prepared to close your eyes and hug the mainmast through a storm.”

Ada Calhoun, writer

Things are tough now, but you and your partner are willing to work on your relationship. This may be a sign of hope.

Give fixing things a try before you decide to break things off. The fact that both of you want to make it work is very hopeful.

6. You Share a Healthy Emotional Connection With Your Partner

Make sure you’re acting not out of fear. Ask yourself these self-checking questions first:

  • Does being around them help your emotional well-being?
  • Does being around them make you feel good?
  • Can they give you a sense of security?

Those are potential signs of a healthy emotional connection. Things might just work out because it’s likely there is some fear in you pushing you to break up, but it is not a real problem.

7. They Encourage You to Take Care of Your Physical And Mental Health

Any relationship expert will tell you that a partner who actively cares about your physical and mental health and who encourages you to take care of yourself is worth their weight in gold. Although it can be hard to hear these things from time to time just because you may find yourself annoyed by their insistence does not mean that it is time to break things off.

By encouraging you to take care of yourself they are showing you that they care about you as a person and that they want to keep you in their life for as long as possible.

8. You Share Long Term Goals

You may find yourselves at a crossroads now but ultimately you still want to achieve the same end goal. For some, this crossroads could lead to them thinking that it’s time to break up in hopes that their paths might meet again someday. However, it may be a sign that you need to walk away from that expected path and find the answer by doing something different.

The Right Answer on Whether to Stay or to Break Up Is Up to You

Sometimes the reasons you should break up with someone and the reasons you should try to stick it out may not be clear even to a professional relationships editor. Each situation is unique, and only you can decide if the reasons we’ve listed here are valid enough to push your relationship ending. For someone, making pro and con list will work, while others prefer to follow intuition while making such life-changing decisions.

Anyways, if you want to make some extra effort and not end a relationship with them, it’s perfectly fine. Just don’t forget that you deserve the best in life, and let them answer your current concerns to bring your peace of mind back. After all, breaking up with someone, especially if you had been together for a long time, is not an easy task, and you’ve pur so much effort into this bond already to wait for a while.

If you’ve decided to break with them and move on to meet someone better, congratulations! It’s a grand and brave decision, and if it makes sense to me, go for it, and don’t forget to ask for support from your trusted ones whenever you feel overwhelmed with emotions or seek for an answer they cannot give you.

Love&Sex Expert
Cherie Hamilton
I’ve always been inspired by women who are outgoing, very sure of themselves, and not afraid to be who they were, including their sex lives. Under their tutelage, I gradually shed my old self, hung out and socialized with them, and, over time, became the empowered, self-confident, and sexual woman I am today. Happy to share my insights with other women today!
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