How to Know When to Breakup

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Is your relationship draining you? Are you worried it’s time to end things? But aren’t sure?

How can you know when to breakup?

Questions ask so you know when to breakup

Here are 5 key things to look for.

1. Can you be yourself in this relationship?

Do you always feel you have to be someone else to be liked by your partner?

If this is always an issue in your relationships, if you are always creating personalities to ‘please’ the other? Then it’s probably not your partner’s fault, but can mean you have issues with codependency or have borderline personality disorder.

If you start being yourself and the other person loses interest, it might be time to learn your lesson, and seek help with this pattern or your identity issues.

If you have always been yourself but your partner has started to always put you down, to the point you are walking on eggshells? Do take the time to learn about emotional and psychological abuse, which are not worth sticking around for.

2. Do you feel safe with your partner?

If not, this can be a sign to leave if it’s part of a larger pattern of mental or emotional abuse. The longer you stay, the more your self-esteem will plummet. If you are being physically abused, it's always time to go.

A BBC report discovered that 173 homocides in Britian in the last year alone were domestic violence related.

But note that if your partner is not actually threatening or manipulating you but you feel fear anyway? It’s possible you have 'anxious attachment'.

If as a child your main caregiver was unreliable, you can grow up to be an adult who feels increasingly anxious the more they experience intimacy.

In this case it might be a case of staying in the relationship, but working on your anxiety and relating patterns with a therapist.

3. Do you share values?

It’s common when we are just starting out with relationships to think that we need to have matching lifestyles to be a good couple. But these things are actually just surface bonuses, and are not substantial enough to keep a couple together.

What keeps couples connected and happy long term is shared personal values. Liking the same music can change. But sharing a deep belief in loyalty, family, and charity, or whatever it is that means the most to you, will be a constant.

A key sign here is if you find yourself doing things you aren't comfortable with and are losing self respect. A good relationship inspires us to live by our values and be our best selves, not our worst self.

4. Are you growing at the same pace and in the same direction?

We all grow and change, and not at the exact same tempo. So it’s normal if, say, one partner is going through a life challenge and the other isn’t, for there to be a time of tension.

But if one partner experiences or chooses a big life change and the other just isn’t on board, and isn’t interested in ever being so? It can mean the natural end of a relationship.

This can happen when one person takes up a religion or becomes spiritual, or decides they want to move country to persue a dream career. Or when a young couple grows up and one wants to keep a ‘party lifestyle’ and the other doesn’t. It's also common when one partner experiences a bereavement and feels differently afterwards.

5. Do you both want children in the future?

This shouldn’t be a make or break it question for young couples who are still figuring out who they are and what they want, and are both wavering on the issue.

This question is a real issue for couples in their thirties and is a common issue raised in couples counselling.

Overlooking this question, or just assuming the other person will ‘change their mind’, can result in serious pain and frustration down the line.

So if you are absolutely sure of your own decision, and your partner is sure of his, and the two answers aren’t in alignment? Ending a relationship is sometimes the difficult but practical choice.

The truth about ending a relationship

There is rarely an exact stop point in relationships. It is more of a build up of realisations and trying and failing, of learning to get to know each other and seeing what can and can't work.

Things like trust can be earned, and things like communication can be learned. If one partner has serious issues, but is willing to go to therapy, then the relationship can also get back on track.

But things like values and wanting children, which is connected to values, are things that don't tend to change.

And any form of abuse is a red flag to get out of the relationship as soon as possible. Abuse can come in many forms or a combination of forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and financial abuse. If you are in an abusive relationship seek support. If you are scared to tell someone you know, consider calling a free help line, where a non judgemental trained volunteer is happy to listen.

Time to escape unhealthy relationships choices or patterns once and for all? Find a therapist now and start talking your way forward.


Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert and personal development teacher. With training in person-centred counselling and coaching, she often writes about trauma and relationships. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy

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