Nothing stings quite like realizing you and your partner have grown apart. If you've been together long enough that you've evolved individually, and you realize you're no longer compatible, that doesn't make breaking up any less hard. There may still be plenty of love between you, but when you and your partner's futures don't align anymore, it might be time to start asking yourselves some tough questions.
It's important to be with someone you love and enjoy being with, but experts say being on the same page is just as important. "Relationships are as much about enjoying each other in the present as they are about creating a future together," sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr tells Elite Daily. "We all have dreams for ourselves and for the relationship, and these dreams determine serious and important decisions in the present."
Sure, it can be all fun and games for a while, but Fehr presses that eventually, you'll have to discuss your future. "At some point, future plans will become more pressing and require decisions that impact your life together such as living together, financial investments and life-changing events such as having a baby," she says.
But if you and your partner realize you want different things in the future, that doesn't mean you should immediately call your relationship quits. "The first thing is to start an honest conversation to bring your partner in on what's going on for you — what you're seeing and experiencing inside yourself," Fehr says. "Be honest about how your vision or goals might be shifting from where you were before and what's important to you about new ones."
This conversation might be a tough one, so be prepared. "If one of you wants kids and the other does not, for example, there is a problem there," Trina Leckie, host of the Breakup BOOST podcast, tells Elite Daily. "Or maybe one of you wants to move somewhere else, and the other is happy staying where you are because that is where they have established their life and feel comfortable." Is one of you willing to compromise? If not, then you're faced with a choice, Leckie says.
"Too many drastic differences like this, and you won’t have a future," she explains. "You’ll just have frustration, arguments, and built-up resentment. The relationship will eventually crack, so it’s better to go your separate ways before you end up feeling like you wasted a lot of time." This may be a tough pill to swallow, but keep in mind that no solution is one-size-fits-all. Breaking up doesn't have to be the only fix.
"Some couples might choose to stay together," Fehr says, "living mostly parallel lives and intersecting on the minimum of where their futures do align." It's OK to stay together and figure it out as you go along. Just be prepared to continue having tough, important conversations about where you see yourselves in the years to come. At the end of the day, the decision belongs to you and your partner, but honesty and open communication are crucial to making it work and coming to a solution that works best for everyone involved.