Is it time to end the relationship? It is extremely painful and difficult to acknowledge that your relationship is over. Whether you have been with your partner for six months or six years, you will have certain habits and comforts that will make the idea of leaving seem intimidating.

In addition, you may feel anxious about how the news will be received by your family or by mutual friends, and if you are cohabiting with your partner than you will be dreading the awkward process of at least one of you having to move out.

However, allowing a relationship to continue when it is filled with negativity or mistrust is much worse for your well-being than anyone of the ugliness that you may experience during a breakup, and lying to yourself or your partner for a long period of time only increases the likelihood that the inevitable split will be a bitter, humiliating one.

When you are in a happy relationship, planning for your future should be fun and exciting activity that helps you focus on your shared dreams and goals. However, there are a couple of ways in which talking about the future can make it obvious that it is time to think about breaking up.

Unfortunately, the mixed emotions you experience when your relationship is on the line can make it difficult to decide whether it truly is time to go your separate ways. If you want to avoid living in limbo, ask yourself the following questions in order to work out whether breaking up is the best option for you and your partner.

1) Do you feel uncomfortable or frightened when you think about sharing the future with your partner?

When you are in a happy relationship, planning for your future should be fun and exciting activity that helps you focus on your shared dreams and goals. However, there are a couple of ways in which talking about the future can make it obvious that it is time to think about breaking up.

Firstly, you may find that discussing future plans illuminates the fact that you do not see eye to eye when it comes to what you want from life. Perhaps it has become obvious that only one of you wants to have children, or you feel resentful because you have realized that your partner values career goals above your personal life.

Secondly, discussing future plans might fill you with feelings of discomfort or anxiety, which suggests that you do not really want to build your future with the person you are currently in a relationship with.

If either of these warning signs appear when you try to make substantial plans together, it is a good idea to discuss whether breaking up might allow you to effectively pursue your distinct goals and help you to regain feelings of optimism about the future.

2) Have you or your partner become strongly attracted to someone else?

Many monogamous couples agree that it is fine for both parties to experience fun, superficial attractions to celebrities or people fleetingly seen on the street. However, few have this relaxed attitude towards the idea of their partner forming a substantial, long-term attraction to someone else.

This type of infatuation can be extremely damaging, as it diverts emotional and sexual resources away from the primary relationship. If one of you has started falling for someone new in this way, these feelings constitute a serious warning sign that you may be on the road to a breakup. Not all such attractions result in breakups, and some couples do bounce back from this problem once the third party has been willingly removed from the equation.

However, sometimes the person who has formed this attachment to another person is either unwilling or simply unable to forget the new connection and exciting chemistry they have found, or the person who has not become attracted to anyone else finds it utterly impossible to move on from what feels like a substantial emotional betrayal. If either of these results of a new infatuation sound painfully familiar, it is worth considering whether breaking up may well be the best course of action.

In addition, note that a strong attraction to someone outside the relationship usually occurs when there are preexisting problems within the relationship (such as lack of effort or frequent disagreements).

3) Do you dislike or even loathe your partner?

The most obvious sign that it is time to consider breaking up is an increased awareness of the fact that you do not even truly like your partner any more. Of course, it is normal for all couples to experience mild irritation in response to one another’s eccentricities and flaws, but it is not normal or healthy to feel dislike or loathing for your partner almost all the time.

Warning signs that you have stopped liking your partner include finding what they say to be boring or predictable, avoiding activities that force you to talk to them for long periods, and feeling annoyed when you hear them tell stories in a group setting. You may feel like time any time you have to spend with your partner is an unfortunate obligation or even a chore, and you might look forward to being apart more than you look forward to being reunited.

While some relationships can actually survive as something closer to friendships than romances, even this option is ruled out if your partner’s basic personality no longer appeals to you. If you do not genuinely like the person you are with then it is probably time to think about breaking up.

4) Do you and your partner seldom have intimate or significant conversations?

At the start of relationships, couples often have extensive and extremely meaningful conversations about everything. This typically involves trading early memories, admitting all of your ambitions, and seeking advice from each other when things get tough. However, once you have been together for a while then you may find that conversation starts to dwindle.

Some couples think that there is only so much you can say to another person, and as a result they become lazy or complacent about having deep or personal conversations. A warning sign that you and your partner might be experiencing this problem is the realization that neither of you can remember the last time you had a long discussion simply for the joy of sharing conversation.

If your conversation topics are solely focused on menial chores, financial issues and practical duties, this will rob your relationship of the emotional intimacy it once had.

That being said, it is important to note that having communication difficulties does not mean that you have to break up, as it is possible for communication to improve with time and effort. However, if you do not feel a genuine urge to improve the way you talk to each other and do not have the slightest yearning for more meaningful communication, this may mean that a breakup is the most sensible route for you both.

5) Have you or your partner been unfaithful?

Although some couples do manage to overcome the huge emotional hurdles left by an instance of infidelity, the majority of relationships do end in a breakup after one partner has strayed. Firstly, if you are genuinely in love and satisfied by your relationship, you are unlikely to want to cheat on the person you are with (partly because there is nothing else that you want from someone else, and partly because of an awareness that cheating could absolutely destroy your partner).

Secondly, it is difficult and counter intuitive to try to trust your partner again once they have betrayed you, and if you have been cheated on then you may decide to break up on the grounds that you believe your partner has shown that they are undeserving of trust.

6) Do you find that you argue with your partner on a daily basis?

All relationships involve disagreements, but your relationship may be heading in the direction of a breakup if you find that you are fighting more often than not. In a happy relationship, you will spend more time feeling affectionate and comfortable than you do feeling bitter and angry, so if you are in the opposite situation then you may want to seriously consider ending the relationship.

You should be particularly concerned if the arguments you have with your partner are extremely cruel and filled with remarks specifically designed to hurt each other, as this conflict style only breeds resentment without ever dealing with the real underlying issues. If you feel like you do not have the energy or the interest required to get to the heart of what is causing your arguments, this suggests you may no longer be in love with your partner and may be better off breaking up with them.

7) Have you and your partner stopped being physically intimate?

First of all, you should realize that there are many reasons for a dry spell in your sex life. Perhaps one of you suffers from health problems, is going through a bereavement, or is struggling at work. All of these things can rob you of the desire to be physically intimate.

That being said, if you cannot think of a plausible explanation for the problems in your sex life then it may be the case that your physical intimacy has waned because your romantic feelings have waned. If you no longer find your partner sexually attractive, find yourself lying to get out of having sex, or notice that either of these things are true of your partner, it is time to start talking about whether the two of you even want to be in a romantic relationship anymore.

8) Do you feel more content when you are away from your partner?

If your relationship is healthy, you will not feel the need to constantly be by your partner’s side. It is good for you both to spend some time apart and to have individual friendships or hobbies. However, if you are away from your partner for a substantial period of time, you should miss their affection, company and conversation.

If you do not miss your partner when you are separated (or if you actively feel glad to be away from them), this is a sign that a breakup may be a good idea. If your happiest and more peaceful times are those spent as far away from your partner as possible, it is safe to assume that you would be happier without this person in your life at all.

If your answer to some or most of these questions is ‘yes’, it is probably a good idea to sit down with your partner and have a serious conversation about whether breaking up might be the best course of action.

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