20 Signs Your Relationship Is Over & How to Cope

How do you know when a relationship is really over?
on January 30, 2024
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare
signs your relationship is over

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? 

Sometimes it’s the little things that tell us that something just isn’t right, whether it’s a gut feeling or a loss of spark. While in many cases, more concrete signs tell you the relationship won't or shouldn’t — last much longer. 

Breakups can be complicated, and even though we want things to be clean, mixed signals can make things confusing. Learning how to recognize when a relationship has run its course can help you approach the end more healthily, as you can be confident in the fact it’s time to let go. 

So, how do you spot the signs of a looming breakup? And how should you act if you feel the end is near? 

Key Takeaways
  • Recognizing when a relationship is over involves observing certain signs, such as a breakdown in communication, loss of emotional and physical intimacy, lack of trust, and a feeling of disconnection.
  • It's time to let go when the relationship feels irreparable, marked by persistent unhappiness, detachment, and a loss of trust, respect, and satisfaction.
  • While recognizing these signs can be challenging, acknowledging them is crucial for personal well-being and making informed decisions about the future of the relationship. If both partners are unwilling or unable to work towards resolving these issues, it might be time to consider ending the relationship.

How do you know when a relationship is over? 

Relationships can be complicated, and breakups are no less confusing. 

One day you can feel like your relationship is doomed, while the next you find yourself holding on to that glimmer of hope that you’re destined to last forever. While some people hold it down to a gut feeling, there are certain circumstances where a relationship has to end. 

“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.

Outside of these more serious scenarios, the final stages of a relationship can differ for couples. While some notice slight changes over time, others can feel like their dynamic changes overnight — with no going back to how they were before. 

Instead of just saying ‘When you know you know’, it’s helpful to look out for certain signs that your relationship timeline is coming to an end. And even though it’s never easy, when you notice these changes — it might be time to confront the writing on the wall. 

20 signs a relationship is over 

1. Unhealthy communication 

Every relationship goes through rough patches, but a communication breakdown is a clear warning sign that the end of a relationship is near. 

If you and your partner are arguing all the time, or always picking fights, it could indicate a certain toxicity present in the dynamic. When disagreements start to get heated, you should take a step back from your partner — it’s time to consider the end of the relationship. 

2. Lack of emotional connection

While lack of intimacy is an obvious sign of relationship deterioration, this also applies to emotional intimacy. 

If you’re no longer excited to be with someone or lack any curiosity to know your partner on a deeper level, it suggests a decline in compatibility. 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 may no longer have the same emotional attraction. 

While it’s tough to admit it in the first place, this general disinterest in your partner signals your relationship could be at a close. 

3. Inability or desire to resolve issues

Every couple fights from time to time, but without conflict resolution, the relationship can quickly start to deteriorate. 

In a healthy relationship, after a fight, both partners should try and see each other’s perspective and resolve to do better next time. Without compromise and respect, it becomes more difficult to get the relationship back on track. 

Relationships take work, and if you’re no longer interested in fixing things, these underlying issues will likely lead to the end of a relationship. 

4. Lack of physical intimacy

Sexual desire ebbs and flows in any relationship, and the two of you might not jump into each other’s bones as much as you first did. But a healthy sex life, alongside other forms of physical intimacy,  is an important way to stay connected with your loved one. 

Our research revealed that couples value non-sexual touch on a regular basis in their relationship, with these touches key to the upkeep of a healthy dynamic. 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, this is a red flag that you should not ignore. 

5. You don’t trust them

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 requires both partners to be committed to healing and willing to work on the relationship. 

If this is not the case, your self-esteem and trust will not be able to recover. After all, 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 life together. 

Without trust, there is no foundation from which the relationship can grow. 

6. You can’t imagine a future together

Every couple envisions the kind of future that they can have together. If you can’t picture yourself with your partner long-term or are no longer including them in your future plans, it could be a sign that you haven’t found the right person. 

If you find yourself avoiding conversations about the future, it could be a sign that this isn’t a long-term relationship you’re truly invested in. 

7. You don’t care enough to argue

When things get tough, you have to want to fight for your relationship. If determination is replaced by apathy, it’s a sign that you’ve already given up on your future together. 

“Not caring at all is worse than conflict,” 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. 

If you feel apathy toward your partner and your experiences together, that’s an indicator that either one or both of you aren’t invested or interested. 

8. You’re always thinking about someone else

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? If you’re interested in pursuing a new relationship, it’s a sign that you’ve already got one foot out the door. 

9. You won’t consider therapy

Choosing to go to couples therapy is never easy, but seeking professional help can make a world of difference to your relationship. A relationship expert can help you work through your relationship issues in a healthy way and can help you turn things around.

However, if neither of you cares enough to consider therapy, or just can’t see the point in trying anymore — your romantic relationship could already be at an end. 

10. You look forward to breaks from them

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. 

While we all enjoy periods of time spent alone, or without our partner, it isn’t normal to always avoid spending time with our significant other. 

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. 

11. You don’t help each other out

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. 

12. You sense a change

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. 

Sometimes it may not be something explicit that they aren’t doing, but simply a gut feeling that the dynamic has changed. 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. 

“When you don't want to see them anymore and this feeling comes up repeatedly, likely, the relationship is not going to last much longer,” says Dr. Khurana. 

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. 

13. You don’t feel safe

If you’re in physical or emotional danger, it’s a sign that the relationship not only could end but should end. 

Being in an abusive relationship is not sustainable and should not be tolerated. It’s important to find a way to safely extract yourself from the relationship and reach out for support from your family and friends. 

14. You don’t miss them when you’re apart 

When you’re in a happy relationship, it’s normal to crave contact with your partner, and even to get a little thrill when they message you. Even though butterflies naturally fade in long-term relationships, when the ‘I miss you’ messages disappear altogether when you’re apart — or you don’t even notice they’re gone — it’s not a good sign. 

While some time and space apart are 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 out. 

15. You feel drained after spending time together

Feeling depleted after spending time together could be a sign that your relationship is headed out the door. 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. Ideally, you should be able to sit in total silence and feel completely at ease. If this isn’t possible, you could communicate your needs and think about setting new boundaries. 

If it feels like things are not changing, it is time to think about why you continue spending time with someone who exhausts you. 

16. You don’t treat each other with respect

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. 

Mutual respect is foundational in any relationship and without it, there is no clear path for the future. 

17. They bother you all the time

If you feel annoyed by much of what your partner says, does, or doesn’t do, you might not be right for each other. 

Getting the ‘ick’ for your partner is a clear sign that your relationship is headed in the wrong direction. 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.

18. Walking on eggshells around them 

When your relationship is in a rocky place, it’s normal to want to steer clear of any confrontation, for fear that argument might actually spell the end. 

However, walking on eggshells around your partner is not sustainable long-term, as it can erode your mental health and well-being over time. 

19. No common goals 

Individual pursuits are very important in any relationship, but you shouldn’t be walking in totally different directions. 

Most couples have a bucket list of goals that they want to achieve, working on them together to accomplish their dual dreams. If your goals no longer align, or you don’t even think to factor your partner into your goals, it’s not a good sign. 

20. Avoiding talking about them to friends/family 

While no one wants to be that person who never stops talking about their significant other, it isn’t good if you’re intentionally leaving them out of topics of conversation. 

Even though you may not have acknowledged it yourself, this disinterest in sharing updates about your partner showcases your own opinions on the relationship. This change is also very noticeable amongst your close friends, and they might even be the ones to take you up on it! 

When should you let go of a relationship?

While all of these things could signal the end of a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed. 

If you’re both willing to work on things as a team and to reestablish healthy lines of communication, you can bring your relationship back to a more stable place. It will take hard work, dedication, and likely a lot of compromise — but it’s possible. 

However, if you’ve tried everything to resurrect your relationship, to no avail, it could be time to let go. This decision is never easy, especially if you’ve grown apart (rather than an explicit action driving a wedge between you), as you question your own authority and emotions. 

Letting go can take a long time, but you have to put your own well-being first and take steps to restore your own happiness. 

When to call it quits in a relationship?

Once you’ve made the decision in your mind, it’s time to call it quits. 

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. 

How to break off a relationship

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, both 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. 

When it becomes clear that the relationship isn’t salvageable, it’s time to have the dreaded talk. It’s not going to be easy, but if you’re resolute in your decision — it’s best to communicate your feelings as sensitively as possible. 

“Talk about a public place in which you kindly explain why you think the relationship will not work would likely be the kindest approach,” says Dr. Khurana. 

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.”

No matter the reason behind the breakup, it’s important to treat your partner with respect, to give you both the best shot at closure — and a new chance at your happy ending. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should you stop trying in a relationship?

    Deciding when to stop trying in a relationship is a deeply personal and complex matter. It’s time to stop trying when you feel that the situation is beyond repair. For example, you’re consistently unhappy, your partner is detached from you, and ultimately feel that trust, respect, and satisfaction have disappeared. When you stop trying to remedy things altogether, the relationship has already ended in your mind — it’s just the act of officially calling it quits that’s left.
  • What are the end stages of a relationship?

    The end stages of a relationship typically involve a series of phases that reflect a decline in emotional connection, commitment, and satisfaction between partners. These stages often include disillusionment, withdrawal, conflict, and ultimately, a loss of hope for your future together.
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