It can feel impossibly difficult to tell whether something is really over or just a rough patch, even though it often seems CRYSTAL clear when it’s your friend, or your partner’s other partner, or the couple having a fight at the brunch spot. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective and an objective read on what’s going on to tell whether it’s healthiest to separate — which is why our team is here to tell you from experience when it’s time to go.
If you’re feeling like you need to break up or take a break, you should trust your instincts. There were points in my last relationship where I really felt like we weren’t right for each other but chose to overlook. I never gave myself the space to reflect on pros and cons or how I truly felt whilst everything moved so fast. Looking back, there were so many red flags. My advice would be to always trust your instincts. If you don’t feel good in the company of your date/partner, if you feel unable to be your full self around them, if you doubt your compatibility with them, if you feel emotionally manipulated, if your feelings and reactions to things feel policed, trust those instincts.
Dani Janae, Writer
This one is hard because I’m the type to run away in a relationship. Generally, a good sign is the voice in your head saying “it’s time to break up.” When you aren’t on the same page anymore, when the physical intimacy is lacking, when you’re processing sessions become cyclical and mundane, if you leave their house crying every time, it’s time to break up. Another good one to look out for is not looking forward to or even dreading time spent together.
Heather Hogan, Senior Writer
As soon as someone’s behavior starts making you question your self-worth or your reality, it’s time to go.
Jehan Roberson, Writer
When they’re no longer curious about the other person. When there’s a divestment from the other person’s growth.
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Writer
Does the relationship take more from you than it gives to you? It’s probably time to end it. All relationships require compromise, but they shouldn’t require sacrifice—at least not consistently. If you find yourself giving all of the time and never receiving, it’s time to go. On the other side of that, if you realize that YOU’RE the person who is always taking, you should probably leave your partner, but I’ve found that those people don’t usually have that self-awareness. Yes, relationships can be hard work, but they shouldn’t be so hard that it feels like work all the time.
Also, I just want to say that except in extreme circumstances, you should tread lightly when telling OTHER people to break up with their partners. It’s hard to really know the inner workings of others’ relationships, and in my experience, people don’t always listen to “dump them” directives and it can end up affecting friendships. If someone comes to you asking for the specific advice about whether to break up with someone, go for it.
Malic White, Writer
It’s time to break up when you’re no longer enhancing each other’s independent lives. If all partners involved are only bring tension or drama to the relationship, you’re just holding each other back from fulfillment.
I think a big sign is that you’ve become too codependent, and find it painful to do things separately. First of all, it’s just not hot to be with someone who is basically you at this point, but more importantly, you have to retain that independence. I think you can do that without breaking up – I believe in a break! – but I also think that if your partner leans waaaay too heavily on you, or just has no interest in widening their support system or growing because they expect you to do that heavy lifting, it’s time to go.
Renea Baek Goddard, Writer
If you constantly view spending time with your partner as a chore to take care of and not as a source of joy or relief in your life, then do each other a favor and part ways. I don’t think there’s much you can do at that point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in working things out and trying to salvage a relationship. But I think there’s a whole lot that needs to go wrong first before you get to the point where you’re grumbling about date night because you can’t stand spending time with your partner alone, or when every interaction with them leaves you drained or irritable. If you find that you generally don’t actively look forward to seeing your partner anymore, something needs to change. It might mean setting different boundaries, communicating openly about space and alone time, trying to resolve past resentments, or coming up with ways to add excitement to your relationship. But once you’re just completely tired of being around them, things aren’t looking so good anymore.
Reneice Charles, Writer
When someone is in a maintained state of indifference about the relationship even after it’s been mutually addressed that’s usually a big sign to me. Also if there’s more anxiety and conflict than connection and enjoyment for extended periods of time (cause sometimes there are just natural periods of distance) despite attempts to change course, it’s probably time.
Vanessa Friedman, Community Editor
When one or both or all people in the relationship start polling their friend group about when they think a breakup is necessary… that, to me, is a good sign that the relationship is not in a good place. I have seen this happen so many times! “When do you think it’s time for a couple to breakup?” “How do you know it’s the end?” Right now, babe! The end is right now!!! Extremely full disclosure, I almost always think everyone should break up (not because I don’t think y’all can work it out, but because I think we as a community have major scarcity issues and fears of dying alone so we tend to cling on to situations that really don’t serve anyone involved and end up causing pain and harm when we could be perusing joy and happiness with someone new or by ourselves), but I do think as soon as one person speaks the idea of a breakup into existence, the odds of it happening increase exponentially – and I probably think that’s a good thing!