How To Know When A Relationship Is Over: Expert Lists 25 Signs

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How to know when a relationship is over

No one enters new relationships thinking one day it’ll all be over. Yet, it is common for partners to part ways. If you’re wondering how to know when a relationship is over, a little introspection will make the answer crystal clear. You may be feeling trapped in a relationship for days. You may struggle with a seething uneasiness, an urge to break free, and the dilemma of whether to stay or leave.

Relationships can reach a point where uncertainty grows, signaling a potential end. When a relationship reaches its conclusion, the sense of relief can sometimes overshadow the sadness. Yet, distinguishing between a rough patch and the actual end is crucial. Actually, there are clear and subtle warning signs that a committed relationship might be over, even if you’re still holding onto hope. With inputs from Dhriti Bhavsar (M.Sc, Clinical Psychology), who specializes in relationship, breakup, and LGBTQ counseling, let’s take a look at how you can do just that.

How To Know When A Relationship Is Over?

So, how do you know when a relationship is over? Well, relationships don’t end overnight. In any relationship, a degeneration sets in over time, which, if not addressed, drives the partners apart. As relationships decline, signs start showing, but forgetting an anniversary might not be one of the signs your relationship is over. Yet, if your partner consistently ignores your feelings, avoids meaningful conversations, or can’t find common ground, it’s a red flag and you may find yourself asking yourself often, “Is my relationship over?”

Dhriti says, “When genuine feelings are ignored and communication stalls, it might signal the end. Rather than prolonging the pain, an honest conversation is required to prevent further hurt.” To avoid a hollow committed relationship, knowing when your relationship is over is crucial and so are the reasons why to break up. If you’re left asking yourself, “Should I break up with my boyfriend (or girlfriend)?”, Dhriti suggests these 25 tell-tale signs that might indicate a failing relationship:

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1. Lack of communication

Communicating with your partner is the backbone of a healthy relationship. From sharing the minutest details to your darkest, deepest thoughts – that’s how you build a strong bond. Dhriti says, “The most common way a lack of communication manifests itself in a relationship is when the intent of communication seems to be lost. If one or both partners avoid having difficult conversations, the relationship loses its depth and all that is left is the surface-level facade of it.”

Related Reading: 12 Completely Valid Reasons To End A Relationship – No Matter What the World Says

2. You constantly feel a need to escape

In any healthy relationship, partners naturally look forward to spending time with each other, every chance they get. Even if being together means snuggling up and watching Netflix. Dhriti says, “The urge to escape usually stems out of two main reasons. One, you don’t feel comfortable with intimacy or vulnerability with your partner; and two, you feel that being with your partner has become unsafe for your physical and mental well-being.” Either way, this need to flee should be an alarming tell-tale sign that your relationship is probably heading toward its end.

3. All you see are flaws in each other

What’s an early sign your relationship is over? If you both find flaws with everything that the other person does or says, you can be sure things will go south soon. Where you used to see nothing but beauty and charm, you may now find the same things off-putting. Once this starts happening, it’s not a good sign for your relationship and you may find yourself asking, “Is my relationship over?”

According to Dhriti, this tendency to find faults is often a result of resentment in the relationship. She says, “You start finding faults when love ends. Fault finding is a direct result of some unresolved issues that may have permanently scarred your relationship. So much so that you’re not able to forgive and forget, and the issues have overshadowed all the brighter aspects of the relationship.”

4. Lack of intimacy

This is one of the answers to your question: “How do you know when a relationship is over?” A lot of times, partners struggle to make sense of what’s going on in the other person’s mind. I was in a 2-year-long relationship and everything was okay. One fine day, I realized that I just felt distant from my partner, as if there was no emotional or physical intimacy. In retrospect, it was not a sudden change but a gradual process that we both chose to ignore. I kept wondering when to break up until I eventually did.

Dhriti says, “A lack of intimacy rears its head in many different ways. It could be a lack of physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, or both. But what needs to be noted is where this is coming from. And knowing when to leave a relationship is crucial if it persists beyond repair.

“If the lack of intimacy is coming from a place of disinterest or lack of enthusiasm, it could very well mean that you are dragging the corpse of a relationship. But, on the contrary, if it is coming from past traumas leading to issues like performance anxiety or fear of physical intimacy, it could mean a completely different thing for the relationship.” You must assess the source of this intimacy deficit before choosing the future path for the relationship.

5. Communication equals fights

Do you catch yourself wondering, “Why does my relationship feel off?” Remember those easy conversations you used to have? Now, it feels like every little talk turns into a big fight. You’re both on the edge, afraid that anything you say might lead to an argument. It’s like walking on eggshells. 

Sure, disagreements happen, but if every chat ends in a fight, there’s a problem. Look deeper — unresolved issues might be causing this tension. If you’ve tried to fix things and the fights keep coming, it might signal the end of your relationship. So, this may be one of the reasons why to break up. 

Related Reading: 9 Things To Do When Every Conversation Turns Into An Argument

6. You have thought about ending a relationship several times over

If you have been asking yourself, “Should I break up with my boyfriend (or girlfriend)?” for some time now, you have your answer. It may be the case because your subconscious already knows that your relationship is dying but you might not have accepted it yet. Here are a few signs your relationship is over when you’re constantly considering breaking up:

  • This suggests dissatisfaction and a lack of hope for improvement
  • It indicates a loss of emotional investment and a focus on the negatives
  • This also means trust or deep connection may have eroded
  • It shows a mindset fixed on the end rather than solutions or working through issues
  • It indicates the relationship might have lost its joy or emotional fulfillment

7. You don’t feel safe in the relationship anymore

Still wondering, “How do you know when a relationship is over?” Feeling unsafe or threatened in the presence of a romantic partner is an alarming red flag and one of the major key signs of a failing relationship. There doesn’t have to be outright emotional or physical abuse to feel unsafe in a relationship. However, Dhriti says, “You don’t feel safe in a relationship usually because either your simple expressions of discomfort are met with explosive reactions, or your partner gaslights you into situations that leave you feeling unsafe and insecure quite often.”

As this Reddit user shared, “I shared a number of things from my past with my boyfriend this evening that I hadn’t shared previously, as they are parts of my life that I’ve worked hard on forgetting (sexual assault). His responses ranged from “Why didn’t you do xyz?” To “Well I would have done abc”. I’m starting to feel like I’m not emotionally safe anymore.”

8. They’re not your go-to person anymore

Wondering how to know when a relationship is over? Well, if something unbelievably good or awful happens to you, but you don’t want to share it with your partner, that could be a sign it’s over. Let’s take my friend Abraham’s experience for example. He had been dating Julia for the past three years and they were inseparable. One day, he called me saying he would quit his job and move to LA. 

When I inquired about what Julia had to say about it, he said, “I haven’t run it by her yet, but I think she wouldn’t really care.” At that moment, I knew they were done. They officially ended it the next week over a text. If your partner is not the first person you call for celebration or support, or to just release energy safely, the inevitability of the end seems to have become quite apparent.

9. You have cheated on your partner or have at least entertained the thought

If you’re wondering when to break up, well, this may be a perfect excuse. Feeling a fleeting attraction toward someone else even when you’re in a committed, long-term relationship is not unusual. However, if you’ve acted on those feelings or entertained the idea of cheating on your partner, you might be done with your relationship and be wondering, “Is my relationship over?”

The first sign your relationship is over could be these words written by a Reddit user, “It doesn’t really matter if your SO is cheating on you. If you’re unable to trust your partner with an acquaintance of the opposite gender, or if you think he/she is about to cheat – your relationship is already over.”

Related Reading: 8 Ways To Fix A Broken Relationship With Your Boyfriend

10. Thinking of exes is an indicator

Have you been spending long periods of time thinking about your ex recently? Perhaps, the one that got away. Do you find yourself comparing your current relationship to your past ones? And do you actually think that you were better off with one of your exes? 

Dhriti says, “If you find yourself thinking about or fantasizing about your life with an ex, it simply means that your current relationship is not fulfilling enough for you. And if after multiple attempts of communication around this, you’re still left with thoughts about your ex being better, it might be time to go your separate ways.”

11. Being angry or upset has become your default mood-setting

Don’t remember the last time you felt happy, relaxed, and in love? Has a frown become your default expression? Do you always feel anger bubbling up inside of you? Has the thought “I think my relationship is over” popped into your head more than once? Then it’s likely that the relationship is dying. If you’re feeling trapped in a relationship or are hurt, upset, or angry around your partner, it’s one of the signs your relationship is over.

Here’s how to know when a relationship is over due to this lingering negativity:

  • Persistent negative emotions can signal deep-seated problems
  • It creates an environment of discomfort and tension
  • Frequent arguments without resolution strain the relationship
  • When negative emotions dominate, it becomes hard to find joy together
  • It indicates a breakdown in communication and understanding
  • Seemingly perpetual unhappiness often points to the end of a relationship

12. You’re on the verge of an emotional breakdown

Still wondering when to quit a relationship? Well, perhaps when all that fighting, stress, and unpleasantness is beginning to affect your mental health, you’re left with no healthy way to communicate. You constantly feel like you’re on the brink of an emotional breakdown and talking to your partner is the last thing you want to do. You’re constantly wondering, “Should I break up with my boyfriend (or girlfriend)?” We see you! 

Dhriti says, “Emotional breakdowns are a result of the overwhelming stress that comes if someone has tried everything in their power to achieve something and has failed. So, if your relationship has become a constant source of stress instead of  being a source of comfort, fulfillment, and love, it is time for you to walk away from it.”

Why does my relationship feel off
Not knowing when a relationship is nearing its end can be mentally taxing

13. Trust issues are at an all-time high

Another tell-tale sign of how to know when a relationship is over. Imagine a relationship as a sturdy bridge built on trust. When cheating or continuous lies become part of the landscape, it’s like discovering cracks in the bridge’s foundation. My friend Emma was with her boyfriend, Mark, for 5 years. Emma, who was once an independent person full of life, had however become dull and controlling. One evening, she and I met for some banter over a coffee while Mark was out with his friends.

Emma was distracted and restless. She kept checking her phone and texting him to find out about his whereabouts. When I asked her about it, she said, “It’s not the same anymore. Small lies have now turned to bigger ones and I just can’t trust him. Everything he says seems to be a lie to me. How do you know when a relationship is not working? Is this a sign?”

All I could say was, “When trust issues slowly took center stage, it’s clear that the relationship might not be worth saving anymore.” It was heartbreaking to witness the erosion of something so vital to their bond and the impending end of a relationship. 

Related Reading: 11 Things That Happen In Relationships Without Trust

14. The spark has fizzled out

When to quit a relationship depends entirely on the couple. You see, every couple goes through ups and downs. Rough patches, fights, bickering — these are all part of the package. In a healthy relationship, couples find a way to navigate these stormy spells because the spark between them is still very much alive. 

Dhriti says, “The butterflies and the nervousness will eventually fizzle out with familiarity and comfort, but what matters is the intent. If the intent to make one another feel happy and loved fizzles out, you may consider ending a relationship.”

15. You don’t see a future together

Do you see your partner in your future plans? If not, it might be one of the note-worthy signs of a failing relationship. Having a future together is what gives relationships a sense of direction. While these directions may take unexpected turns, the beauty of it is having a partner by your side as you navigate through life and think about what comes next. 

How do you know when a relationship isn’t working because your plans aren’t aligned? Here are a few key signs:

  • The dreams and goals you used to co-create are fading away, signaling a shift in the relationship dynamics
  • If conversations about the future feel forced or are avoided altogether, it might indicate a lack of enthusiasm or commitment
  • Goals and plans that aligned in the first place have diverged, which has led to conflicting paths 

Related Reading: Can You Sense When Someone Likes You? 9 Things You May Feel

16. Others take precedence in your life

One of the reasons why to break up is a lack of priority for the relationship. Be it family, friends, colleagues, or pets — every other person takes precedence over your partner. And that’s how to know when a relationship is over. You’d much rather have a night out with your friends, attend that retreat with coworkers, or go to brunch with your mom than do anything at all with your partner. 

Dhriti says, “This isn’t necessarily an alarming issue unless this is a recent development in your actions toward your partner. If you have lately been avoiding being with your partner, it calls for a serious reflection.” If you’ve lost all the excitement and willingness to be with them and work through the issues, maybe it is time to part ways.

17. You feel it in your gut

Sometimes, the start of trouble in a relationship isn’t obvious, but there’s a gut feeling. You can’t quite put your finger on it because it feels nonconfrontational, but something’s off. There’s this nagging sense that things aren’t right and that something has changed. It’s like a slow slide downhill, where you just know deep down that your relationship isn’t what it used to be. 

Dhriti says, “It is not necessary to be able to pinpoint the problem, the fact that you feel hollow when you think about the relationship is reason enough to pause and think. Your subconscious often picks up cues that your conscious mind hasn’t processed yet.”

Related Reading: 7 Things No One Tells You About A Breakup

18. You’re bored in the relationship

Yes, the initial excitement and romantic high fade away after a while, in every relationship. You become more settled, more at ease with each other. However, if this sense of a settled rhythmic pace has been replaced by boredom in the relationship and you’re feeling drained, it’s a sign that things are not working out between you and your partner. 

This is one of the first signs your relationship is heading toward its end. As Dhriti says, “Boredom in relationships comes from emotional distance and disinterest. The opposite of love is not hate, but it’s disinterest. If you have been unable to find that sense of interest in each other’s life, the relationship might well be dead.” And if you’re wondering when to quit a relationship, this may be the last straw.

19. You’re not ready to work on your problems

Is ‘Why does my relationship feel off?’ been a constant thought lately? Well, if either one or both partners are not willing to do the work to resolve their issues, the writing is pretty much on the wall. You, your partner, or both of you have checked out of the relationship already. You are not willing to put in the effort to fix a broken relationship. Maybe, you already know that there is nothing left to fix anymore.

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20. You feel alone even when you’re together

Despite your efforts to hold on, there’s a loneliness lingering even when you’re together. The person beside you feels like a stranger, and the connection you once cherished seems distant. When the yearning for the past connection is strong, but the reality of “I think my relationship is over” is evident, it could be a sign that your relationship is on its last legs.

21. Neither of you is ready to make compromises

One of the signs of falling out of love is the reluctance to compromise. When you and your partner reach a point where sharing thoughts has become a rarity, every discussion ends in a deadlock, and neither wants to give in or see things from the other person’s perspective anymore, it’s a big sign that the relationship is in trouble. You might find yourselves living separate lives and having different goals and dreams. It feels like you’re speaking different languages and can’t see eye-to-eye anymore.

Related Reading: Sacrificing In A Relationship – When, What And How Much?

22. You’ve hit a wall despite your best attempts at making it work

You might still have feelings for your partner and may have tried to convey as much to them, but you may have hit a wall every single time. Sometimes, despite sharing thoughts and trying your best to reconcile, your partner may seem distant. Now, you may be contemplating how to break up with him (or her). Here’s how to know when a relationship is over because the distance between you two seems unsurmountable:

  • Your partner doesn’t reciprocate your emotions or share their feelings
  • They console you but never open up about their own feelings
  • Despite attempts to make it work, there’s no emotional connection

23. There is someone else

Dhriti says, “When someone looks for the fulfillment that they once found in their relationship elsewhere, it is quite evident that their relationship is under deep distress. This is probably the most absolute sign that your relationship is dying. If you or your partner have someone else that you see a romantic future with, I would advise you to walk down your separate paths before things like cheating guilt signs complicate things further.” 

Relationships are about finding love and fulfillment in the first place, right? It is obvious that if the fundamental requisites of a relationship are non-existent, there is not much left to it.

24. You have drifted apart

It’s okay to have some personal space in relationships now and then. Sometimes, people drift apart a bit, but they find their way back. But when that distance feels huge, and coming back together seems impossible, it could mean the end of a relationship is inevitable. Under such circumstances, it is better to pour your energy somewhere else rather than making futile half-hearted attempts at salvaging something that’s already gone.

25. Therapy seems futile 

Another of the signs of falling out of love is when therapy doesn’t work anymore. Sure, couples often turn to new ways like therapy to mend their relationship by seeking guidance and tools to navigate their differences. It’s like getting a roadmap to understand each other better and work through problems. 

If you prefer not to go to therapy, because you don’t want to flog a dead horse anymore, there is little room for debate that the relationship is over. Sometimes, you realize on your own, and sometimes you need help with finding the answer to — “How do you know when a relationship isn’t working?” Ultimately, it is up to you to accept the gravity of the differences and decide in which direction you’d like to move forward.

Related Reading: 7 Reasons Why Modern Dating Sucks And How To Cope

What To Do When You See The Signs A Relationship Is Over

In any relationship, spotting key signs that it might be reaching its end is a pivotal moment. However, it’s not just about identifying these signals, it’s equally crucial to handle this delicate phase with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. How you navigate during this critical juncture can significantly impact not just knowing when to leave a relationship but also help you maintain your personal growth and emotional well-being. Here are five essential steps to take when these warning signs become clear:

  • Self-reflection: Take time to evaluate your emotional connection and your feelings and thoughts about the relationship, understanding what you truly want and need
  • Open communication: Have an honest, open conversation with your partner about your concerns and feelings to gain clarity and potentially find a resolution
  • Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for guidance and emotional support during this challenging time
  • Focus on self-care: Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being by engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation
  • Plan for closure after the breakup: If you’re wondering how to break up with someone you love, we’ll ask you to prepare for the end of the relationship by organizing logistics and considering practical steps for separation or moving forward independently

Key Pointers

  • In any relationship, if it’s reaching its end, there are always signs, some subtle, some clear, that it is dying. If you’ve stopped talking, are always fighting, or feeling distant, that’s your relationship waving a red flag
  • If you’re feeling unsafe, are mad all the time, are daydreaming about past relationships, have trust issues, don’t have future plans, get that gut feeling, or are just plain bored, those are signs that something’s up
  • When the warning signs hit home, talk it out, seek support, and prepare for a graceful exit. Your well-being matters most

If you’re trying to figure out the answer to “What’s an early sign your relationship is over?” ask yourself if you relate to a majority of these signs. Perhaps, then you’ll know your relationship is already over. If yes, it’s best to pull the plug now so that both you and your partner have the chance to turn over a new leaf in your lives. Better to be happy alone than being miserable together! Still wondering if your relationship is worth saving, or how to break up with someone you love? Well, if you need help with salvaging your relationship or moving on after ending a relationship, you can explore Bonobology’s counseling services. When to break up (or when not to) depends entirely on the couple, but a little help along the way doesn’t harm anyone!

FAQs

1. What are the signs of a relationship ending?

Some signs of a relationship ending are when there is a communication gap, a lack of physical intimacy, and a lack of common future goals.

2. How do you know when your relationship is really over?

If you’re wondering how to know when a relationship is over, it’s when your partner builds a wall around them that you cannot penetrate despite your constant efforts. You do not work on your problems together, but focus on the flaws; have constant fights; and there is a sense of boredom and a need to escape. It’s when you keep thinking of your exes a lot, you are attracted to other people, and you feel that the relationship is a burden.

3. What to do when you know your relationship is coming to an end?

When your relationship is over, you have to know if you want to put in the effort to try and save the relationship or if you want to let go.

4. How do you tell if your partner is over you?

You know your partner is over you when you feel emotionally and physically distant from them. It’s when they have no inclination to share their life with you and there is a complete breakdown of communication.

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