Leaving A Relationship – How Do You Know It’s Time?

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Relationships are beautiful when they are good but can be the greatest source of hurt when they turn bad. Things go sour between couples for varied reasons. Sometimes, situations become so complicated that even leaving the relationship appears to be a challenge. The dilemma of whether to snap all ties or give it another chance becomes a perennial loop. 

Needless to say, the threshold for leaving a relationship can be different for different people. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are certain moments when you have no choice but to walk out. 

And no, they need not only be due to abuse or violence (for which there is absolutely no excuse). There can be situations or moments that make you question the worth of a relationship. Let’s find out just when it may be time to end a relationship with someone you love.

What Are The Reasons To Leave A Relationship?

Often people, especially women, hesitate to leave a broken relationship despite it giving them no joy. “The primary reason is that we keep hoping for change (usually without actually doing anything about it),” says Prachi Vaish, Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist and Trauma Specialist.

 “We keep feeling that with our reasoning, efforts and entreaties, our partner will change. Accepting the contrary requires accepting that we made a bad decision in choosing this person. And this is the subconscious reason that keeps us hanging on,” she adds.

Breaking up with someone you love without hurting them is like stealing artwork from a museum without setting off the alarms. There will be tears, there will be denial and maybe even some bargaining. But if the relationship is only making your life worse, you must dig in your heels and rip the band-aid off.

Once you take a long, hard look at the reality of the situation then the decision of leaving a relationship that does not fulfill you in any way, will not be so bad. So, if you find yourself constantly asking, ‘should I stay in this relationship or walk out?’ here are some of the most common, broad reasons that can help you make a choice: 

1. You don’t feel emotionally satisfied 

Once the physical gratification is over, relationships become more about emotional satisfaction. When your emotional needs – such as being secure, feeling appreciated, feeling joyful, etc., are not met, you find no reason to stay on. What seemed like the perfect relationship can soon turn sour once you two realize you’re not as compatible as you thought.

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Perhaps you mistook infatuation for love, and in the process turned a blind eye to any red flags being waved right in your face. Maybe your partner’s enthusiastic persona leaves you susceptible to saying yes to experiences you’d rather not be a part of, due to their persisting nature. You’ll end up feeling as if your opinion is not respected, and the emotional connection just isn’t there.

Even though you don’t feel emotionally satisfied, you may still have convinced yourself that you’re in love with this person. Sooner or later, you’ll realize this relationship is not fulfilling your emotional demands and to leave someone you love, but who is not good for you, will be the only logical course of action.

2. You feel bored   

It may sound awful but boredom ranks high among the reasons to walk out of a relationship. Sometimes, after years of being together, couples just drift apart. They share nothing in common and the relationship may stop inspiring them. You might be the kind who’s always looking to be in the center of attention, trying to get all eyes on you on the dancefloor. If your partner is the kind who’d rather sit and watch from a distance, the lack of compatibility might just leave you feeling they’re not as adventurous as you.

If you’re trying to stay in the relationship because you think this isn’t a good enough reason for leaving a relationship, get back to us after your partner makes you watch the same movie for the tenth time. Sure, snuggling in with your partner is great but just how many Friday nights can you spend in your house, sharing silence with them? If in this situation you’re asking yourself “how to get the strength to leave someone you love” just think about the time when your partner suggested going to a book reading as a “fun” activity. Bleh!

Related Reading: 11 Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship

3. You fall in love with someone else 

Leaving a relationship because one of the partners has an affair is becoming all-too-common. With extramarital affairs no longer evoking the kind of shock it used to, more and more bonds are falling apart. But that doesn’t give you the right to keep your partner on the hook, while you’re daydreaming about someone else. In this situation, it can be extremely difficult to confront your partner and tell them you’re considering leaving the relationship. But just imagine if the roles were reversed. Would you not want to know immediately if your partner was considering a relationship with someone else, so you don’t feel lied to and cheated upon?

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re developing feelings for someone else while you’re in a relationship. Just be honest about your feelings and confront your partner as early as possible. Ending a relationship with someone you love is never easy, but by delaying it while you’re falling for someone else, you’ll be breaking your partner’s trust and building up guilt that will make you feel horrible at the end of the day.

4. Lack of sex 

reasons to leave a relationship
Lack of intimacy can be a relationship killer

Physical intimacy, or more specifically the lack of it, can be a relationship killer. In contrast to point 1, this is the situation where emotionally you may be satisfied but there is absolutely no physical attraction that makes you want to stay with your partner. Contrary to popular belief, love is all it takes does not hold true. Translation of love into the physical aspect is just as important as emotional intimacy. A sexless relationship can be bad for your confidence, decrease communication with your partner and leave you having to rely on yourself to fulfill your sexual needs.

5. Money and existential reality issues 

‘For better or for worse’ might be a good vow to take but a lot of relationships suffer when the going gets tough. Especially after the pandemic, when job losses and related stress have increased so much, it can take a toll on relationships. If your partner, unexpectedly has a surprisingly difficult time dealing with hardships and depends on you for everything, it’s absolutely viable to leave if it is taking a toll on your mental health.

While support is a must in any relationship, unrealistic expectations of unconditional and unwavering support need to be kept in check. Breaking up with someone you love and live with is difficult, but if they expect you to solve all of their problems, finding greener pastures elsewhere is absolutely warranted.

How Do You Know It’s Time To Leave A Relationship?

“People tend to repeat the same patterns of efforts to bring about change, expecting a different outcome. That obviously cannot happen. And until then, even the painful situation becomes too familiar to leave and explore the unknown,” says Prachi explaining why it is sometimes so difficult to leave someone you live with and share a life with. 

But habit is not a good enough reason to stay on in bad relationships. Sometimes, you may not even realize it but there are enough signs, if you pay close attention, that should prompt you to consider leaving a relationship. Read on to find out if they apply to you

Related Reading: Relationship Advice – Top 3 Dos and Don’ts For Couples

1. Consider leaving a relationship that’s abusive 

“Abuse can be verbal, emotional or physical. It’s a HUGE red flag,” says Prachi. There can be no two ways about it. If your life with your partner is one never-ending slanging match, if you are subject to verbal taunts and it gets physical even once, it’s time to put a full stop to it then and there. 

No one should ever stay in an abusive relationship. Even if you can spot signs of abusive behavior in your partner, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider leaving the relationship based on just your intuition. In fact, we’d encourage it. Sticking around to find out if your partner is abusive or not isn’t worth it. If you suspect it, leave.

2. When mutual respect is missing 

Respect should be looked at beyond the traditional lens. “Respect in a relationship means trusting that our partner is an adult with a mind of their own and that they know what they are doing. If there is no respect for each other as human beings, there can’t be love,” says Prachi.

Signs of lack of respect in a relationship don’t just feature abuse of any kind, they can be subtle signs you might be able to see in everyday conversations with your partner. If they disregard your opinion, are never interested in what you have to say and keep cutting you off, it could discourage you from communicating. Is a relationship in which you can’t even freely communicate worth staying in?

3. When you get cheated upon more than once 

Infidelity is one of the most common reasons for breakups, and long-distance relationships are the usual suspects. The consequence of infidelity depends entirely on the context and circumstances. A ‘cheater’ might either be forgiven or be dumped. However, when betrayal happens more than once, it usually means a man or a woman has given up on a relationship on some level. Once that has happened, staying together essentially means flogging a dead horse. 

Ending a long-distance relationship with someone you love is a very hard thing to go through. You might not be able to receive the closure you need. But if you’ve been cheated upon more than once, finding closure should be the least of your concerns. Walking out of a toxic relationship is your immediate priority.

4. When there are chronic arguments 

It is no fun being married or committed to a person you constantly argue with. Chronic arguments can turn out to be quite toxic as you begin to dread going home to your partner. You might just end up actively trying to avoid your partner, which in itself should tell you how well your relationship is doing.

Every conversation you have with your partner might just turn into an argument over the pettiest of things. It might even get to the point where you’ll avoid having a conversation with your partner, which will incite another argument because you two weren’t talking enough! When there is too much arguing and very little common ground, it is time to reevaluate such a relationship.  

5. The power struggle is too intense 

Perhaps total equality in relationships might be a utopian idea but when there is an effort to control each other, the result is stress. “When equilibrium is replaced by a power struggle in a relationship, it inevitably leads to a battle of one-upmanship and not a real, mutual partnership,” says Prachi. The ‘weaker’ person feels suffocated and shortchanged.  

A loving relationship is about mutual respect, trust, and care. Who has the upper hand should never matter since all that upper hand is going to do is wave goodbye to the partner it was belittling. Your relationship shouldn’t feel like a constant battle to establish dominance. In a relationship where you both aren’t completely comfortable with each other, leaving a relationship is never an absurd idea.

Related Reading: Why Is It So Hard To Let Go, Even If The Person Doesn’t Love You?

6. Passing derogatory remarks about your partner 

Lack of respect is often reflected in the snarky remarks and insults that partners trade at each other. “Body shaming the partner, criticizing and mocking their choices, their profession, ridiculing how they look or what their friends are, and so on, are signs that it’s time to leave a relationship,” says Prachi. 

When your respect is being questioned to this degree, “how to get the strength to leave someone you love” shouldn’t even be a question worth considering. Tell a friend about the derogatory remarks and they’ll be begging you to end the relationship as quickly as you can!

7. Leaving a relationship on account of gaslighting 

Gaslighting is a subtle form of abuse when one person denies the reality of the partner by calling them crazy or by implying that the latter always makes a big deal out of nothing. “Gaslighting can take many forms. Making a person question their decisions or attacking their self-worth are also examples of gaslighting,” says Prachi. 

Gaslighting can end up making you doubt your own decisions/doubt your recollection of events. No one should have the power to make you question your own thoughts and shift the blame on you. Psychological warfare like this should be left to the politicians; for you, it’s time to catch the next bus out of this relationship.

should i stay in this relationship
Gaslighting is a subtle form of abuse

8. When your partner tries to change you 

Consciously or subconsciously, we try to influence our partners. Change is good, especially if it is making you a better person or helping you inculcate better habits or lifestyle. However, when your partner tries to change your core or has a negative influence on you, it can have devastating effects in the long run.

To fit their needs and demands they put aside yours and try to change you, and that’s yet another sign of lack of respect in a relationship. If your partner wishes to change you, it simply means they’re looking for something in a relationship they cant currently find in you. Identify the signs and make your way out. 

9. When your partner won’t accept your children or pets 

Accepting someone in one’s life means accepting everything – the good, the bad, the assets and the responsibilities. A selfish partner may tell you a couple of months into the relationship if they’re not okay with a few aspects of your life you can’t change.

To leave someone you love but is not good for you is never easy, but If your partner does not support aspects of your life that are important to you, say, your children or aged parents or pets, then you may have to make a choice – leaving a relationship or leaving your responsibilities. You know what to do. 

10. When your goals are different 

Sometimes there might not be anything wrong with you or your partner; both of you might just be two different individuals. Maybe you want different things in life and there is no way you can seek a middle ground. It is futile to sacrifice your ambitions or goals for the sake of the relationship as such a compromise will only cause more pain.

Yours might even be a case of finding the right person at the wrong time, which hurts even more. Therefore, leaving someone you love for their own good might be the right, albeit painful, thing to do!   

11. Your core values and outlook towards life are different 

Opposites don’t always attract. The basis of a solid relationship is shared values and attitudes. When a couple does not see eye to eye on matters that define their persona – religion, money, children, to name a few – it becomes difficult to take the road ahead together.

Breaking up with someone you love without hurting them is difficult, but if you two have extremely different outlooks, you will eventually end up hurting each other drastically. Even if you are a perfect match in every other way, when your fundamental beliefs are opposite to each other’s, being together begins to seem like a chore. 

12. Your memories and experiences are bad 

How do you feel when you think about your partner? Does it bring feelings of joy, satisfaction and contentment? Or do you feel scared or bored or just neutral? Being in a relationship should be an exciting and fulfilling experience, one you can look back on fondly so the “remember when” conversations will naturally keep flowing.

When you don’t have good memories or when your experiences are mostly bad, then leaving a relationship might be a better choice than carrying on.

Related Reading: How To Get Out Of A Controlling Relationship – 8 Ways To Break Free

13. Being single scares you

Many people are scared of leaving a relationship, however bad or unhealthy it might be, because they can’t bear the thought of being alone. Staying in an unhappy marriage or partnership just because you are not confident of being single is a terrible reason to put up with misery. Have the courage to walk out. 

While it must be said that a person should make all efforts to make a relationship work especially if they have invested in it, there are times when a question has to be asked…if the returns on that investment are worth the effort of staying back. The answer to that question will reveal whether it’s better to fight for it or go your separate ways. 

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FAQs

1. Why is it so hard to leave a relationship?

It is hard to leave a relationship because of the emotions and efforts invested in it. At times, you may also feel scared and vulnerable to be alone and might feel it is better to stay in a relationship than be single. To accept that you need to leave a relationship is a hard pill to swallow since it also means you have to accept you made a mistake by getting into the relationship.

2. How do you know if it’s time to break up?

When there is no love left in the relationship, when there is serial betrayal, when your core values are different, when you drift apart and when you feel your relationship is giving you more pain than joy, it is time to break up.

Ending a relationship with someone you love is never easy but if you’re not happy in it and constantly feel undermined, you must make up your mind and leave your partner.

3. Can you leave someone if you still love them?

Yes. Sometimes, you do not leave someone because you stop loving them, you need to leave them because you may have outgrown each other or may want different things from life. Breaking up with someone you love and live with won’t be easy but if your mental health is being negatively affected, you should leave the relationship despite how much you think you love this person.

4. How to leave someone you live with?

It would be difficult to leave someone you share a life with. You may need to approach it delicately. Also, you need to have made your exit plan well with regards to how you are going to move out, the modalities of such a move, and how it’s going to impact your life. 
 

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11 Lessons People Learnt From Failed Relationships


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