I definitely stay in relationships way too long. Breaking up is a big deal, and it's hard to know when to pull the trigger. There are always signs your relationship has been over for a while, but sometimes, you don't want to admit it to yourself, and you're not quite ready to move on. I've known couples who have stayed in relationships just because they live together and can't afford to move out and be on their own.
I also once stayed with a guy who was cheating on me for five years, just because I felt too emotionally insecure to be alone. (I am so glad I grew out of that phase of my life.) I've also stayed with boyfriends even though we were no longer physically intimate, and I dated a man who I'm pretty sure would have rather been dating his cell phone than me.
Why do people stay in relationships long after they should be over? I know for me, having the breakup conversation can be more anxiety provoking and difficult than staying in the relationship itself. Or sometimes, I just can't decide what is fixable in a relationship, and what is a red flag that I should end things.
So here are some signs that you should have broken up with someone a long time ago. Because, as everyone knows, breaking up can be hard to do.
1. You're No Longer Physically Intimate
If you and your partner are no longer physically intimate with one another, then what you have is a friendship, not a romantic relationship. After a while dating someone, it's easy to have sex with less frequency. In fact, it's pretty much expected. What used to be a daily activity now happens once a week, and soon, a few times a month. You wear your retainer to bed. There is zit cream everywhere.
But if a few times a month eventually becomes never, and you find yourself faking headaches to get out of doing the deed (and fantasizing about your hot co-worker during the times you do end up having sex), then it might be time to break up.
Scratch that. It's definitely time to break up.
2. You Depend On Someone Else For Emotional Support
If you're depending on someone else for emotional support, then that's another way of saying there is emotional infidelity going on in your relationship. If your partner isn't your safe space, then who is? Once you are no longer relying on them for advice, security, and a shoulder to lean on, then the foundation of your relationship is crumbling.
Your significant other should be the first person you want to go to, in good times and in bad. If that's not the case, then it's time to reevaluate your relationship, which might have been over for a while now. It's best to break up early, before emotional infidelity turns physical.
3. The Bad Outweighs The Good
Here is the thing about relationships: They should be mainly good. This sounds obvious, but for some couples I know, it appears not to be. They equate drama and chaos to love and think that the more they fight, the more intense and passionate the feelings for one another are. Maybe all my friends watched The Notebook too many times.
In a healthy relationship, this is not the case. Things should mainly be peaceful, and you and your partner are — no matter what — on the same team, working toward the common goal of a happy and successful relationship. If you find that your relationship is built on anger, resentment, bitterness, or jealousy, then it's probably time to end things.
In these kinds of dynamics, the only good element is usually the sex, and you can find that anywhere, without all the other drama.
4. You Pick Fights
If you find yourself picking fights over little things in your relationship or hating little things that you used to find adorable about your partner, then it might have been time to end your relationship a long time ago. Can't stand the way your partner chews? Hate how they blink? Get super annoyed by how they are breathing all the time? Yeah, suddenly hating those things are all red flags.
Additionally, picking fights also involves keeping score (remember when you didn't do the dishes three months ago?) and being petty. Once you start acting on those behaviors in a relationship, instead of out of love and respect, things are pretty much doomed.
5. You Ignore Each Other
I knew my last relationship was over when my boyfriend started actively dating his cell phone instead of me. His cell phone would come to dinner with us. He seemed to be more sexually attracted to it than he was to me when it came to unwinding at night in the bedroom. He was also paying a lot of attention to his side chick — the television — but the point is, I started getting the short end of the stick in our relationship when it came to spending time together.
If you start ignoring one another during your private time, instead of using it to develop your relationship and move it forward, then that might be an indicator that you are, in fact, done getting to know one another. And that's OK. After a while, you might actually stop having things to talk about with someone, and at that point, it's time to end your relationship. But do it before you hurt one another's feelings by ignoring each other entirely. It's rude!
If you recognize any of these signs in your relationship, then it might be time to break up. Life is too short to be unhappy, and there's nothing wrong with being alone for a while.
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