You may have a nagging feeling that your relationship has run its course, or you’re on the lookout for signs your relationship is over. Well, you’re certainly not alone. But how do you know when a relationship is worth saving and when to move on?
“There are no black-and-white rules about when a relationship should end, aside from situations in which there is emotional or physical abuse,” says Dr. Gauri Khurana, a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist in New York. But there are signs that might mean the relationship won’t — or shouldn’t — last much longer.
Keep reading to learn the telltale signs that your relationship is over and how to break up in a healthy way.
If you and your partner are arguing more often than not, or always picking fights, it may be a sign that the relationship is no longer healthy. Watch for disagreements that get very heated or that harm you emotionally afterward. Consider talking with your partner or ending the relationship.
If you no longer feel excited to be with someone and lack any curiosity to know that person on a deeper level, or grow their understanding of who you are, it may be a sign that your relationship is ending its course.
In healthy relationships, partners open up to each other and share emotions, thoughts, feelings, victories, and fears. If you’re reluctant to share special moments or experiences with your partner, you might not have a strong emotional attraction.
Every couple has fights and disagreements, but if you’re unable to resolve conflicts and be committed to doing better the next time, you may want to think twice about the relationship. Two or more people joining their lives together will come with incredible compromise and often conflict. Knowing how to work through disagreements is one of the most significant parts of a healthy relationship and leads to deeper intimacy.
Sexual desire ebbs and flows in any relationship, and the two of you might not jump each other’s bones as much as you first did. But physical intimacy (not just sex) is important in a relationship. Hugs, kisses, and gentle touches show that you desire each other. If you scoot away from their touch or are no longer attracted to your partner, there could be deeper issues to address.
One of the biggest signs that your relationship is over is if trust is gone and you’re not able to regain it. Whether due to infidelity or lying, rebuilding trust may be near impossible.
If you doubt your partner’s loyalty and dependability, something is likely askew. All committed relationships need trust, as it's the foundation of intimacy and a life together.
If you can’t picture yourself with your partner in three years, or even a few months, it could be a sign that you’re not with the right person. While not every aspect will match up, you should share similar visions for the future.
If you don’t want to commit to things on a calendar because you’re not sure you’ll be together, it might be time to move on.
One of the key signs of a failing relationship is “apathy about things that previously upset you,” says Dr. Khurana. While lots of fighting, especially aggressive fighting, isn’t healthy, if you don’t have anything to fight for or you’re not invested in the relationship, that’s not a good sign either. “Not caring at all is worse than conflict,” says Dr. Khurana.
If you feel apathy toward your partner and your experiences together, that’s an indicator that either one or both of you isn’t invested or interested.
Fantasizing about others on occasion is common. But when you're fixated on someone, or always imagine being with someone else, it’s time to take a closer look. Are you just physically attracted to another person? Or are you wishing you could be with them instead of your partner?
Think about what might be missing in your relationship, and determine if it can be worked on.
While couples therapy can be difficult, especially the first time, it’s proven to help couples work through relationship issues. If you’re not willing to invest in therapy together, it could be a sign that you’re not in it for the long haul.
Alone time and solo adventures are very healthy in a relationship, but if you’re always looking for a break, it could be a sign that the relationship is on its way out.
Notice if “you make excuses to avoid spending time with your partner,” says Dr. Khurana, and if it becomes a pattern, the relationship isn’t likely a priority anymore.
Are you moving and he doesn’t offer to lift the couch? Are you not helping with his job interview prep?
Healthy relationships rely on reciprocity, where partners support each other and go out of their way to help, even when they don’t feel like it. This doesn’t mean dropping everything or being a doormat, but if you or your partner have lost interest in helping one another, the relationship isn’t built to last.
If you notice that your partner is pulling back, not making as much effort, or not doing what they used to, this can be a sign that their feelings have changed.
But before you lose hope, have an honest conversation with them to see how they feel and what’s happening. It could be nothing related to you.
It’s also possible that you sense a change in yourself. Maybe you don't want to bring them around anymore or you’re more excited to hang out with friends than your partner. “When you don't want to see them anymore and this feeling comes up repeatedly, it is likely that the relationship is not going to last much longer,” says Dr. Khurana.
If you’re in physical or emotional danger, it’s a sign that the relationship should end. Even if someone says they will change, it can be very difficult for them to do, and you could get hurt in the process. Find a way to leave the relationship sooner than later and reach out for support if you can.
While some time and space apart is healthy (even necessary) from time to time, if you don’t miss your partner when you’re not together, or don’t even want to check in on them, it could mean your relationship is fizzling.
Feeling depleted after spending time together could be a sign that your relationship is headed out the door. In general, you should be happy and calm in your partner’s presence, not drained of energy.
Feeling drained after being around your partner is not sustainable, be curious about what ways you can share your needs and set new boundaries if needed. If it feels like things are not changing, it is time to think about why you are continuing to spend time with someone who exhausts you.
Beyond an occasional joke or snappy reaction, if you’re consistently treating your partner poorly or with contempt — or they’re doing this to you — it can be a sign that there’s a lack of respect in your relationship.
If you feel annoyed by much of what your partner says, does, or doesn’t do, you might not be right for each other. You shouldn’t feel on edge all the time, and if something specific is bothering you, you should be able to speak up and talk about it. But if you’re always agitated, the issue is likely something deeper and it might not go away.
It’s time to call it quits in a relationship when you don’t see a future together, you don’t want any intimacy and connection with your partner, aren’t able to work through issues together, or don’t feel safe in the relationship.
All of these are key signs that the relationship is coming to an end, or was never a good fit to begin with. It can be difficult to end a relationship, but staying in a relationship that isn’t right can be even more damaging, and lead to long-term resentment.
Two warning signs of relationship breakups are a significant change in behavior or type of communication and a lack of an emotional connection. When partners aren’t in sync or feel distant from each other, it can be an indicator that the relationship has run its course. If you sense an issue in your relationship, talk with your partner.
Ending a relationship can be sad, scary, and everything in between. But stepping away from a relationship that isn’t quite right opens up the opportunity for a partner that is a better match for you in the short-term and long-term.
Consider “having multiple small conversations and giving them the chance to improve if you think there is a chance that the relationship could be remedied,” says Dr. Khurana. If you’re already mentally over the relationship, then “having a talk in a public place in which you kindly explain why you think the relationship will not work would likely be the kindest approach.”
If an in-person conversation isn’t possible, a phone call is the next best option. “The most important thing is to have a conversation in which the other person understands what may have happened,” says Dr. Khurana. “People are ghosting quite a bit nowadays, and that does not leave any room for someone else to grow and develop because there is no feedback if one person abruptly leaves.”