It’s always bad sign for the relationship if you ask yourself “Should I break up?”. However, most of the time this doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed.
A common situation is that the feeling of wanting to break up are caused (or magnified), by temporary circumstances.
We all go through phases when we feel insecure or stressed and question everything going in our life – our job, our circle of friends, our leisure activities, and even our relationship.
This is quite normal and simply part of life. After all, we continue to develop throughout our lives, so the need for change is completely normal, and even desirable.
If our partner is the right one for us, our relationship will certainly survive our self-discovery processes, even if there may be frequent arguments along the way.
But now the bad news:
If the thought “Should I break up?” is buzzing through your head again and again, it may be a deep gut feeling that the relationship is either not what you want, or not making you happy.
If this is a persistent feeling, then you cannot afford to bury it forever. You can’t repress this sort of emotion long term without it crystalizing into resentment or indifference.
This is especially painful if your partner is truly a good person, but somehow you just don’t “click” with them.
A relationship without love, where one party feels uncomfortable and often thinks about breaking up, defeats the point of a loving partnership (to make one another happy!) and life is just too short for that.
In that case, breaking up is definitely the right decision for the good of both people involved, even though it causes terrible anxiety and feels like giving up or even feeling like a failure for ending a relationship.
(Quiz)Should I break up with my boyfriend / girlfriend?
Why is breaking up so difficult?
The mere thought of a breakup is the first warning sign something’s not quite right in the relationship. People who are happy in their partnership do not think about leaving their partner.
If you really want to end the relationship, you have to first go through a few processes, because breaking up isn’t that easy, and that’s a good thing.
Every relationship deserves be nurtured and work on first, before one person decides to end it.
However, sometimes there are relationships that make both of you sick or where even the thought of a breakup can feel like a relief or an escape.
So where do you draw the line? When is it better to break up and when should you work on a relationship?
And just why is breaking up so damned hard?
Human nature makes want to be in a relationship
Our biology does everything possible to make us fall in love and become a couple. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, because survival is way easier when paired up instead of going it alone.
Thus, during the limerence phase, our brain serves us a powerful cocktail of hormones that urge us to couple up with someone.
On the other hand, a separation, from a purely evolutionary point of view, is perceived as something threatening, something that can put our very existence at risk, because surviving alone was difficult for most of human history.
Because of this, the though of breaking up is scary, even though we know that we have a safety net: family, friends and work colleagues and that we can live very well even without a loving relationship.
Brooding and self-doubt
Self-doubt prevents us from doing what we have to.
On one hand, this can be good thing, because it prevents us from throwing in the towel too quickly and instead try to fix the relationship. However, nothing changes on it’s own.
That’s why it’s also important to look inwards, and think how you are affecting the relationship.
Romantic problems are never the responsibility of just one person, because the life of a relationship depends on the efforts of two people.
However, if you brood for a long time and blame only yourself for the failure of the relationship, you will find it just as difficult to make a decision as when you only blame your partner.
Habit is like an energy saving mode
The human brain loves routine and habits because it saves energy.
Every time we change something we force our brain to think, and this demands quite a lot of energy and willpower.
However, the brain wants to save energy as much as possible and as often as possible. That’s why we often drive the same way to work. We don’t change our route every day, even though we could. These familiar and routinized routines are the brain’s energy-saving mode and help us in everyday life.
Breaking out of this inert routine is not always easy. Because, you guessed it, the brain loves habit. And sometimes living in an unhealthy relationship consumes less energy than finding a newer, healthier one.
Financial dependence is a common reason for not breaking up with someone. However emotional dependence is a bigger culprit as to why people find it so difficult to break up.
Typical phrases here can be, “I can’t live without her,” or “How am I going to make it without him?”
This often takes the form of emotional co-dependency. In this case, the codependent cannot separate because it would make their partner feel bad. Typical phrases can be, “I can’t leave him alone” or “How can she manage without me?”
For outsiders, it is sometimes difficult to understand why an emotionally dependent couple does not separate. For the couple themselves, it is similarly confusing and neither can explain it.
In case of doubt, the emotional dependence is disguised as love: “I love him” or “I love her”. However, love alone is not always enough for a partnership.
Shared experiences are predominantly positive
Sometimes abuses occur in a relationship that make it very difficult to continue the relationship.
For example, cheating is an automatic break-up for most people.
However, couples often go through happy moments too, where the two people share positive experiences that define who they are. Breaking up makes it seem that these experiences were for nothing.
Then you also have more practical stuff, such as owning a home together, having a family, children, etc. These make a decision considerably more difficult.
For a long time, lovesickness wasn’t taken seriously enough. This is obvious through phrases such as “there’s plenty of fish in the sea” or “he never deserved you”.
While the intention behind them is noble, they don’t really anyone in dealing with the breakup.
Trying to make the breakup seem unimportant is well-intentioned, but it only shows just how difficult breakups can be, and how painful lovesickness is. There’s even a term for it called broken heart syndrome.
How to recognize a healthy relationship.
To answer the question “should I break up?” you first have to figure out whether you and your partner have a healthy relationship, where the positive aspects significantly outweigh the negatives.
Fortunately, healthy relationships have quite a few characteristics so it’s easy to tell if you’re in one.
Below are five clear signs that your relationship still has some life in it, and deserves a second chance.
Note: for these to be valid, both people must feel the same way.
1. You can relax and be yourself in the presence of your partner
No matter how exhausting your day was and how much you had to pull yourself together to be “strong”, “friendly” or “creative” – the moment you’re in the company of your partner, all the tension of social life evaporates away.
You don’t hold back your feelings, you don’t think about everything you say, and you are who you are.
It’s just as if you were alone, except that you’re with the person you love, who you can hold, embrace, cuddle and yes, be physically intimate.
You feel it’s easy to talk to each other, laughter is abundant, and there’s just a fuzzy feeling all around.
2.You look forward to spending time with your partner – even if you don’t have anything special planned.
Even if you’re having a lazy Sunday, you prefer to spend it with your sweetheart than without him. It feels nice just to have him near you even if you’re on the couch together, with each person doing their own thing.
3. You can talk with your partner about anything that’s on your mind, even your deepest fears and dreams.
You aren’t ashamed of anything when talking to your loved one, including that one fancy dream of yours that not even your best friend knows about and that you yourself find quite naive. You just know that your partner takes you seriously and respects you.
4. You want him to have all the happiness in the world.
From deep down in your heart you want your partner to succeed in anything they do, be it big or small.
You’re their biggest cheerleader so they can get that big promotion, hit a new goal at the gym, or just having fun in his hobbies.
You love by a simple relationship principle: “shared happiness is double the happiness”.
5. Your partner encourages you and helps to overcome self-doubt.
You perceive your relationship as the safe space in your life from which you draw strength. When you’re going through a tough period (unrelated to the relationship) you know you have your safe haven:
Your partner will neither stress you out nor drag you down. Ideally, he/she will even help you get back on your feet faster.
Does all this sound like a dream world to you, life a fantasy of love that only exists in the movies? It shouldn’t!
If none of the above describe your relationship, ask yourself why you are with your partner in the first place.
Remember, there are lots of ways you can satisfy relationship needs even when single:
There are one-night stands for physical intimacy, you can save on rent by getting a roommate, and there are other remedies against loneliness or empty-nest syndrome.
30 signs that a relationship is not working
Relationships that aren’t healthy or functional often come with a whole host of problems. Most of the times you feel there existence, as if something isn’t quite right in your relationship.
Below are the most common symptoms of unhealthy relationships. Maybe you already know what’s wrong your own relationship, but seeing them written down can help you to crystalize your emotions and understand what’s wrong (and what’s not) in you relationship, and whether or not it’s worth saving.
If you do decide the relationship isn’t worth saving, then do what needs to be done and consider even blocking your ex to prevent situations where you regret the breakup.
The relationship is abusive
Abuse in a relationship is not only physical, it can also be psychological, emotional, sexual, financial or social. If your partner’s actions hurt you, the relationship is not healthy.
You do not feel loved.
Without love there is no such thing as a relationship. Love must go both ways, because love, if it isn’t reciprocated, becomes obsession.
Also, love must be demonstrated and felt. Do you truly feel that your partner loves you? If not, rethink the relationship.
You do not feel respected.
Without respect there can be no healthy relationship. Respect is a basic pillar of any relationship. For a relationship to be healthy, both partners must accept the other person for who they are and respect their ideas, decisions and identity.
You don’t feel free.
A healthy relationship requires freedom. Having a partner is neither a must have nor a necessity. Having a relationship is an emotionally mature choice that requires freedom and emotional independence.
You should freely choose to share your time with the person you love because he or she brings value to your life. It is not love if you feel forced into the relationship in any way.
You do not feel valued and important to your partner.
Love must be reciprocal and must be demonstrated with actions. If your partner does not invest time into the relationship, does not value your company or does not appreciate you as a person, he or she does not love you.
Feeling that he or she does not value you is another sign the relationship is not working.
There is infidelity.
Infidelity is almost always a dealbreaker, but some relationships can be brought back from the brink, where forgiveness combined with change make it possible for a sick relationship to become a healthy one.
However, in most cases infidelity is a symptom the relationship is either dysfunctional, or that one person doesn’t love and respect the other.
Infidelity is a betrayal and a lack of respect for the person being cheated on, which both causes pain and raises the question:
“If he/she is cheating now, what’s stopping them from leaving 5-10 years from now?”
There are many things your partner does that bother you
At the beginning of a relationship, the hormonal cocktail of falling in love prevents us from seeing the other person objectively.
However, as time goes by, the initial infatuation diminishes, allowing us to see the real version of our lover, instead of the ideal image.
At that point, you’ll see the things you don’t like, so you have to ask yourself if their flaws are acceptable or not.
If what you don’t like about him or her is unacceptable to you, the relationship is broken.
You need your partner to change.
People do not change because someone else wants them to. Overall personality, meaning how a person feels, thinks and behaves, does not change.
Behavior can be changed however. It’s possible for a person to learn to do (or not do) something through experience, will-power or simply love for their partner.
However, a lover won’t change just because you want them to. If you can accept your partner as he is right now, then the relationship has a chance.
If you cannot accept him/her and you need him/her to change for the relationship to work, then there’s not much of a relationship to begin with.
You feel no peace.
The dominant sensation of a healthy relationship is a deep sense well-being, tranquility and peace. A healthy relationship brings calm and makes you feel good. If you do not feel peace, the relationship is not going well.
You feel the relationship isn’t good for you
Closely connected to the previous point, if you feel your partner does not suit you, that he/she doesn’t contribute to the relationship, make your life better in some way, or if many people around youyou’re your partner isn’t the best fit for you, then there’s a good chance this relationship isn’t fulfilling you as a person.
If you know they aren’t good for you, but you somehow think that you “need” him/her, then know that you aren’t experiencing love, but emotional dependence.
Your expectations are different
It’s very difficult to make a relationship work if the people involved expect wildly different things from the relationship. In a healthy relationship you should not give up your goals, objectives and plans for the other person.
It is necessary for both people to have a similar or compatible vision of life for the relationship to be healthy and satisfying.
If, for example, family is very important for you and for the other person the most important thing is their career, then it will be very hard to reconcile these competing goals.
Very different lifestyles.
Maintaining a relationship with a person who has a very different lifestyle than is hard.
This does not mean that you have to share opinions or agree on everything for a relationship to be healthy, but you do have to agree on most things, or at least the most important things, for a relationship to be healthy.
You don’t trust each other.
Trust is another pillar of a couple’s relationship. For a relationship to be healthy, you must feel secure.
If you believe (or know) that he/she lies or feel you cannot trust your partner, the relationship is on very shaky ground.
It does not improve your life.
A relationship makes sense when your life is better with that person. If it isn’t, the relationship is not doing what a relationship should.
Not only that, but if it complicates your life and you continue with that person, then this is a sign you might be in a situation of emotional dependency.
He or she does not support you.
Your partner should be a companion who encourages and supports you in your personal development and evolution.
When a person feels sincere love for another person, he or she wants to see that person grow and achieve his or her goals.
If your partner belittles your goals and does not want to see you evolve, or is even envious or jealous, it hinders a healthy relationship.
Communication is not adequate.
Communication is a basic pillar of any relationship.
We cannot read the other person’s mind, so it is essential to know how to express what we think and feel, as well as to learn how to listen and understand what the other person thinks and feels.
When communication is not assertive, it aggravates conflicts, and slowly deteriorates the relationship.
When there is no communication at all, it indicates one of the partners isn’t interested about the other person. Lack of communications says “I don’t care”.
You don’t do activities together.
Not spending quality time, sharing hobbies or leisure time or is a sign the relationship is either not working, or the two people are incompatible.
If you don’t feel the need to share your free time with him or her or, on the contrary, you feel your partner is not interested in sharing time with you, then it’s time to rethink the relationship.
There are doubts
In satisfying relationship, neither partner has doubts. On the contrary, when there are doubts it is because the relationship is not going well.
If your partner expresses doubts or you are the one who doubts the relationship, it means one of you thinks life would be better without the other.
You do not admire your partner
You spend a lot of time with your partner and they end up influencing who you are, the way you think and how you behave.
It is therefore essential to choose a person who inspires and motivates you. Someone you think is a great person. In love there must be admiration.
It does not allow you to grow
A healthy and functional relationship should help you grow and develop as a person. People evolve and change, if the relationship does not allow you to make this personal transformation, it is not a healthy relationship.
If you feel you cannot develop professionally or the relationship prevents you from doing activities beneficial, then your relationship is limiting your growth, instead of encouraging it.
You feel you have to make a great effort
Even the best relationships require some effort to understand the other person and learn to live with their quirks.
For it to be worthwhile though, the effort must be far smaller than the satisfaction you get from the relationship.
If you feel that the effort is too great and that it costs you a lot to maintain the relationship, ask yourself if it is worth it. It probably isn’t.
You are not compatible in terms of physical intimacy
Physical intimacy is an important part of a relationship. In this case, compatibility means you have similar views of physical intimacy, including frequency and kinks.
The relationship makes you suffer.
Love does not hurt, what hurts is the lack of love, emotional dependence and unhealthy relationships.
You do not share responsibilities.
Part of respecting and caring for each other is to share tasks and responsibilities equally. If you feel responsibilities are not shared, that you carry more tasks than you should and that your partner does not care, rethink if there is respect and true love in the relationship.
You do not share fun times.
Having fun and enjoying good times together is fundamental. Laughter and humor heal many wounds and create many bridges. If there is no laughter in your relationship, do you truly enjoy your partner’s company or are you together out of habit or dependence?
You feel you cannot be yourself.
In a healthy relationship you don’t need to change to please the other person, because he/she should accept you as you are.
That does not mean that he/she likes absolutely everything about you, it means that he/she likes you are as a whole, and even if there are things he/she does not like, they can tolerate them.
You have a hard time being faithful.
If you feel attracted to other people and find it very difficult to be faithful, it may be that you do not love your partner so much or that there’s something missing in your relationship.
It is normal to feel attracted to other people from time to time, but resisting these urges should be easy if you’re in a secure relationship with a partner you love, admire and are attracted to.
You do things that hurt your partner.
In loving and healthy relationships, the idea of consciously hurting the other person is inconceivable.
If you know your actions hurt your partner, but do nothing to fix and prevent this, then this is a clear sign you’re not in love with him/her.
As such, if there is no love, there is no relationship.