There are a lot of obvious reasons breakups happen, like infidelity, constant screaming matches, or mismatched future ~hopes and dreams~.
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But sometimes, things aren’t so much actively wrong as they are just NOT RIGHT.
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And if things aren’t feeling right, it can be hard to tell whether you should break up or work through it.
To help you deal with any relationship uncertainty, we talked to a few experts who shared the common red flags that things probably aren’t going to work out.
Obviously no one but you REALLY knows all the details and nuances of your relationship and whether it should end. And, as with any relationship problem, an important step in deciding how to move forward is talking to your partner first. But if you feel like you’ve tried everything and you’re still questioning things, see if any of these bad signs ring a bell.
The quirks and habits that were NBD before are now driving you freaking crazy.
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Let’s say they’ve always been messy, but now you can barely stand what a slob they are. “Ask yourself why this is getting on your nerves now,” relationship expert Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., author of Snap Strategies for Couples: 40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Pitfalls, tells BuzzFeed Life. “It’s hard to leave something you’ve put a lot of time and emotion into, so you might be fixating on smaller things instead of the bigger problem.”
You choose to spend time with your friends, your job, or your Netflix account more often than with your partner.
You might not feel like you’re actively avoiding spending time with them, but if you keep making plans that just happen to mean you don’t get to hang out with them, it’s probably not a coincidence, says Schwartz. Even if it’s not intentional, you’re making a choice and you’re not picking your partner.
Things aren’t really moving forward and there’s no good explanation for it.
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“A relationship won’t have a future — or a good one, at least — if one member of the couple constantly puts the brakes on developing more intimacy,” psychologist Seth Meyers, Ph.D., author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription, tells BuzzFeed Life. So if they are making excuses about things like introducing you to their friends or family, talking about the future, or opening up about themselves, they’re probably avoiding it for a reason.
You’ve broken up and gotten back together more than once.
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Getting back together once is fine, but anything more than that and you’re probably not dealing with the real reason you keep breaking up, relationship counselor Rachel Sussman, LCSW, author of The Breakup Bible, tells BuzzFeed Life. Skip the dysfunctional cycle of getting back together whenever you miss each other or are lonely and remember that you broke up for a legit reason.
If there was a physical component to your relationship before, it’s pretty much dead now.
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A dead sex life might seem like something you can work with — and it definitely is in some cases — but if you are just NOT attracted to your partner like you used to be, Schwartz suggests imagining feeling that way for years. It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure yet how long you’ll be with them. If this person turns out to be the one that goes the distance, are you okay going without that strong physical attraction?
Or sex is pretty much the only thing going right with you two.
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Totally fine if the purpose of this relationship is to meet your physical needs only. But if this isn’t a casual situation, it can be a bad sign if you’re all sex, no talk. “Some individuals prioritize needs like sex and physical attractiveness. And while those relationships can last for years, they typically don’t last for many years,” says Meyers.
You spend a decent amount of time thinking about what else is out there — and if those people might be better for you.
It’s normal to be a little curious what it’d be like to be with someone else. But if you find yourself wondering if there is someone who is more reliable, sensitive, communicative, or whatever else than your partner, those fantasies might be highlighting the holes in your relationship.
“Most people won’t get all their major needs met by a relationship, but they should get most of their needs met,” says Meyers. “The important point is to ask yourself two questions: What are my primary needs from a relationship? Am I getting most of those needs met?”
You bicker all the effing time about pretty much anything.
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You’ve probably heard that it’s healthy for couples to fight. That’s true to an extent, but arguing constantly isn’t normal. If you’re picking fights more often than you’re having positive, rewarding communication, pretty much all experts agreed: It’s time to reconsider.
You’re going through the motions of your relationship just because.
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Yeah, you’re still doing everything you used to, like going out on dates, complimenting each other, having sex, but it no longer feels exciting or ~organic~. If you’ve gotten to a point that you feel like you’re play-acting your relationship, says Schwartz, it’s probably not a relationship you should be in anymore.
Their negative personality traits have gotten worse.
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Everyone brings flaws and not-so-nice parts of themselves to a relationship. When those flaws start taking over, though, it’s a pretty big sign that you’re heading into bad territory, says Schwartz. Think: They’ve always been a little jealous, now they’re overbearing. They’ve always been a little irritable, now they’re just mean. They’ve always been private, now they refuse to open up at all. “Very often it’s not a slump, it’s the beginning of the end,” says Schwartz.
You’re super jealous and suspicious of them more often than not.
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It’s one thing if your partner is acting shady — it’s another if you find yourself wanting to keep tabs on them or not trusting them when they haven’t given you a reason not to. If that’s the case, you probably have some stuff you need to work on within yourself.
“Relationships can significantly enhance your life, but only if you are emotionally ready to manage the demands of an adult relationship,” says Meyers. “You are not ready for a committed relationship if you have a jealous streak and haven’t worked on it by going to therapy or reading self-help books.”
One of you is still hung up on an ex.
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This should be a serious deal breaker for any romantic relationship, says Meyers. It shows that you’re not emotionally all in and no relationship can move forward if someone is still living in the past. You both deserve better than that.
You find yourself thinking that your relationship is ~better than nothing~.
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It’s not. If you’re staying in a not-great relationship for this reason, you’re really not being honest or fair, says Sussman. Sure, walking away from a relationship can be terrifying, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good decision sometimes. “It also frees you up to be single and dating again — which means that there is a good possibility you will get into a better relationship,” she says.
You constantly feel like you’re not a priority to them.
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A good relationship is reciprocal, meaning you’re receiving as much as you’re giving. And that’s not possible when a person is selfish and putting their needs over yours, clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., tells BuzzFeed Life. “Don’t let inertia take over. If you get used to not being happy, getting talked over, and being put on the back-burner, you won’t be making active choices about whether or not you actually want to be in this relationship.”
Your timelines are just off.
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~Wrong timing~ might seem like the oldest line in the book, but it can be a legit relationship killer, says Sussman. Are you wanting more of a commitment than that person is ready or willing to give you right now? Are your schedules totally at odds? Are you guys just in different places in life (literally or figuratively)?
“You definitely want to have a conversation about where you stand and what you want,” says Sussman. “And if the conversation plays out that you’re really on two different pages, it may be time to break up.”
You’re holding out for your partner to make a big change in order for things to get better.
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If you’re banking on your partner… —Changing their mind about wanting kids, getting married, relocating, or other serious future stuff —Getting over their anger problems or other emotional issues —Adjusting any personal or moral values that conflict with yours
Just…don’t. Either discuss how much you both are willing to compromise or cut your losses. “Figuring out if you should break up is like deciding when to sell a bad investment,” says Schwartz. “Is this worth the investment or do you really know that this just can’t work out because of bigger issues that will come up down the line?”
You came into this post looking for a sign you should break up with them.
OK…you clearly don’t want to be with this person if you’re looking for us to give you permission to end it.
Go forth. Be free. Dump them. .