How To Know When it’s Time To End Your Relationship - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 7, 2017

How To Know When it’s Time To End Your Relationship

Breaking up, as that famous song from the seventies goes, is hard to do.    Harder still is deciding whether breaking up is the right thing to do.  When your relationship isn’t going well, it’s tough to distinguish whether you’re just in a temporary bad place that can be worked through or if you’ve reached the end of the line.   It’s never fun to endure the ordeal of splitting up, and you want to make sure, before you extract yourself and begin the work of starting over, that you’ve tried everything reasonably possible to get back on track.  Generally, if any of the following six conditions describe your relationship, going is better than staying.

1. You can’t be your true self

All of us strive to hide our flaws and make a great impression during those intoxicating first few months of a new relationship.   But resilient, lasting love happens only when two people eventually reveal and embrace their imperfections.  If you’re in an established partnership and you’re still hiding parts of yourself, trying to gain your partner’s approval, or feeling even remotely stifled or awkward, you’re with the wrong person.

A sure sign that a relationship isn’t healthy is that you feel chronically judged, demeaned, or limited by your partner.  In the right relationship, you will feel simultaneously safe, stimulated and spontaneous, and free to make mistakes, grow, fall apart, thrive, and just be in the ways that feel natural to you.

2. You’re doing too much work 

All solid relationships require sacrifice and compromise, and the give and take of two people building a life together is rarely fifty-fifty.    Yes, there will be times when you’re both contributing evenly, but usually one person is giving more – if one of you is briefly sick in bed or away on a business trip, or preoccupied for a prolonged period with the demands of job-hunting or a debilitating personal crisis, the other may pitch in to compensate.

You’re doing too much in your relationship if you’re in a pattern of always picking up the slack, taking blame, being accountable – not just with concrete pieces of sharing a life like getting chores done, but with the nurturing aspect of reading books, taking courses, or going to therapy to improve yourself and the relationship.  If your partner always seems to think you’re the one who should do the changing, cleaning up, correcting, or apologizing, you’ve probably done too much to make the relationship successful and it’s time to start withdrawing.

3. Your partner isn’t making you a better person   

Think back to the classes you performed best in as a kid.  You probably earned your highest grades when you were inspired to reach new heights by teachers you genuinely liked and respected.   Well, it’s sort of like that in the right relationship; it’s easier to excel, often using strengths you didn’t know you had, when you’re with someone whose company is organically motivating and affirming.   Such is the chemistry between two well-matched people whose innate compatibility brings out the best in each other and the world around them.  If your relationship is anything less, you – and your partner — deserve more.

4. You’re uncomfortably comfortable  

When you have a history with someone, it’s easy to get lulled into complacency by the trappings – the home, habits, routine, bank account, kids, and dysfunction – of your co-existence. The more memories, stuff, and entanglements you have together, the more likely it is that you will resist leaving a stale union until you have tried every trick in the book – sometimes to the point of making yourself exhausted and ill —  to revive your relationship.

Whether you’re simply bored with a partner you’ve outgrown or suffering downright abuse, the devil you know is a safer short-term bet than the uncertainty awaiting every newly single person.  If you’re resisting breaking up primarily because the prospect of change is inconvenient and scary, there’s likely nothing to salvage and it’s worth the risk to set your soul free.

5. Your intuition is telling you to hit the road  

There’s plenty of practical advice out there on how to know if and when it’s time to leave a relationship.  At the end of the day, though, it’s more about feeling than logic.  I had a wonderful boyfriend for several years, and I tried hard to convince myself that he was “the one” because he loved me and I was about 90% sure we could build a life together.  But the intuitive signs that he wasn’t right kept nagging at me, despite my constant efforts to convince myself that the relationship was meant to be.

Like the time I felt sick to my stomach when I heard another couple talking about buying a house together — or an ever-so-slight sense of restlessness that I could never shake, no matter how much fun we were having or how deep we were in conversation.   Even if your relationship looks fine to everyone else, and even if you can’t pinpoint any overt signs of trouble, if it doesn’t feel right all the way down to your core, then it’s definitely not.  And the sooner you trust your intuition and act on it by saying good-bye, the sooner you and your ex can get through the pain of breaking up and land in relationships with real long-term potential.

About the author

Dr. Amy Wood

Through speaking, training, consulting, and one-on-one sessions, psychologist Amy Wood has helped countless adults from all walks of life and work to articulate and accomplish their own versions of success. Known for her pragmatic optimism, she believes that every human being is a unique and valuable individual with the inner resources necessary to overcome any challenge. Dr. Wood earned her doctorate from the Adler School of Professional Psychology,  is certified by the College of Executive Coaching, and is based in Portland, Maine.

Dr. Wood is the author of Life Your Way: Refresh Your Approach to Success and Breathe Easier in a Fast-paced World an award-winning personal improvement book that surpasses quick-fix self-help rhetoric with a sustainable program for adapting to our perpetually hectic age.   She is a co-founder of sPeak performance, a speakers bureau comprised of women authors, and is often called on for her expert opinion by media ranging from local newspapers to Parade Magazine.

To learn more about Dr. Wood, visit her websites and