How do you know when it’s time to walk away from a relationship versus when it’s time to stick it out and put in the extra work? You may have heard that all relationships require work and will experience challenges, and that’s true. But what’s the line between a healthy amount of work and a toxic or incompatible connection that makes life much harder than it should be?
The longer you are in a relationship with someone, the more everything between you becomes normalized. And you might love each other and genuinely want to make it work, but love isn’t enough. You may struggle to know if it’s time to call it quits and walk away or if you just need to make it over this bump in the road. And that’s what this article will help you figure out.
When it might be worth seeing it through
If you disagree more recently than you used to, it’s not necessarily an indication that it’s time to end things. Firstly, differences in opinions and a small amount of conflict are normal in every relationship. In the early days, one person might have been giving in to the other, or you may have changed a lot as people since you got together. If you can navigate this in a healthy way and the good days far outweigh the bad, then it’s worth giving it a bit more time.
There will also be a natural change in the dynamic of your relationship once you move past the excitement and passion of the honeymoon phase and into a stable, committed relationship. This can make some people think the spark is gone when your bond has deepened and moved to a new level. I always say that committed relationships tend to be a little boring! There’s no drama or major highs and lows, just a steady, reliable partnership.
Another thing to watch out for is noticing imperfections that you used to gloss over or didn’t bother you. When falling in love, you can be blinded by those emotions and overlook the person’s flaws. But then the love hormones simmer, and you start to see clearly again. You wonder how you didn’t notice this before! If it’s something major, like abusive behavior or an addiction, etc., that should not be ignored. But if it’s something small, like he leaves his socks around the house or hums while he pees, you don’t have to push the red button.
Here’s when to walk away from a relationship
1. It has become abusive
You know when it’s time to walk away from a relationship, the moment you get a glimpse of abusive behavior. And this can be physical, emotional, verbal, financial, or sexual abuse. All forms of abuse, whether small or big, impact our self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. Over time, this can lead to depression. And the more you allow yourself to be mistreated like this, the more your confidence is crippled, and the harder it becomes for you to leave the relationship.
Sometimes, second chances can happen, but this is not one of them. It’s time to end it now.
2. It’s a toxic relationship
A toxic relationship can be harder to see compared to an abusive one. It can include unhealthy amounts of jealousy or possessiveness, a lot of drama, major highs followed by major lows, micro-cheating, competition, and generally many conflicts. When things are good, they’re amazing. But when things are bad, which is all the freaking time, it takes a toll on your physical, emotional, and mental health. Is there a better reason to walk away from a relationship than that? Time to say, NEXT!
3. You’re no longer compatible
Having different interests, passions, hobbies, and goals to your partner is perfectly normal and healthy. But what is important is that you match on your core values. That might include whether you want to get married and have kids, religious or spiritual beliefs, where you want to live, etc.
Sometimes, we start out matching in these beliefs. But as humans, we evolve daily, which is a great thing. The conflict arises when you and your partner are growing but in very different directions, to the point where you are no longer compatible.
If this is the case, it’s time to walk away from your relationship and look for one compatible with your future. Creating a love vision (Little Love Step #2) will help clarify this.
4. He’s your “almost”
Are things so close to perfect between you, but it feels like something is missing, and you can’t even put your finger on what it is? Maybe it feels like he’s almost your dream man but needs some tweaks, or you’re almost in love with him but not fully. Sometimes we spend months, years, and even marry our “almosts.” But in your heart, you know there’s a part of you settling in some way. You’ve convinced yourself that you have a great life with him, and maybe he provides many of the things you’ve always been looking for in a man. And you don’t want to be ungrateful for all you have.
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This feeling is your sign that it’s time to walk away from a relationship. The kind of love you’re seeking and craving can’t come into your life until you make space for it.
5. There are more gray clouds than sunshine
If you’re in a situation where you’re struggling to discern between a natural amount of work in a relationship and an unhealthy amount, this will help you. There will be some challenges, lows, arguments, and tears. But the good times should far outweigh the bad. If you think of your relationship like a weather forecast, it should be 90% sunshine and 10% rain clouds or storms.
When you’re in a relationship, seeing it from any other perspective is difficult. You can be trying so hard to make things work, but when you take a step back, you may question whether it’s worth your time and energy.
6. You don’t feel respected
Respect is an essential foundation for any healthy long-term relationship, whether romantic or platonic. A lack of respect creates an imbalance between you and invalidates your thoughts, opinions, feelings, and needs. Someone who loves you will not disrespect you.
The real question is, how much do you respect yourself? Enough to leave a relationship that isn’t serving you, even if you’re afraid of being alone or never finding anyone else?
If there’s an underlying current of disrespect, and you’ve communicated how you feel about this, and nothing is changing, it’s time to walk away.
7. The trust has gone
Trust is another pillar of a healthy, successful relationship. Once it has been broken, it’s almost impossible to regain, and the relationship is bound to fall apart.
One of the things I teach is radical candor. This means you practice being completely honest with your partner, even with the small things. Because white lies might seem harmless, but they can quickly snowball into many mistruths and affect the trust in your relationship. And it’s much easier just to be honest. Because when you’re not, you must remember the lies you have told and keep track of who you told them to.
If you can’t trust your partner and they don’t trust you, that’s a sign it’s time to walk away from your relationship.
8. You tolerate things
You tolerate him never remembering to hold the door open for you when you’re out. You tolerate him when he gets slightly obnoxious after one too many drinks. You tolerate him when he chills on the sofa after work while you make dinner and help the kids with their homework.
Relationships are give and take and compromise. But are you giving too much and receiving too little in return? Are you tolerating things that shouldn’t be overlooked and other women would never put up with? There will come a point when all the things you tolerate mount up and start weighing you down. This is a sign that something needs to change.
9. You have lost yourself
Do you feel like a shell of the woman you used to be? Maybe you don’t enjoy the hobbies you used to, you don’t spend time with your friends like you once did, or you’ve compromised so much of who you are and what you believe in to make your relationship work.
Yes, relationships require compromise, but not to the extent that you compromise the integrity of who you are, what you love, and who you’re here to be.
A healthy, loving relationship will inspire you to become more of yourself, not less. You shouldn’t have to change who you are to be happy in your relationship. And if you do that, you won’t be satisfied anyway because you’ll be living an inauthentic life.
10. He is selfish
You know when it’s time to walk away from a relationship when you’re with someone incredibly selfish to the point where they don’t care about your feelings or needs. That might show up in the bedroom when he only cares if he orgasms. If he rolls his eyes or yawns when you start talking about something you’re interested in. He comes home early from work and makes dinner for himself but not you. Or he always expects you to drop your plans to accommodate him.
It’s important to make ourselves a priority and take care of our own needs. But these examples are all signs of someone who is selfish in a relationship. There’s only so long you can carry on in something that is so one-sided and doesn’t fulfill your needs.
11. There’s a power imbalance
Research has shown that power imbalances in relationships are unhealthy. Those who feel like they have less power than their partner tend to experience greater feelings of aggression, particularly when communicating with their partner.
Power imbalances can easily occur. For example, if one person in the relationship stays home to look after the kids, and the other person is earning all the money.
If there is a deliberate lack of balance and equality in the relationship, it might be time to end it.
12. Sex is a chore
Sex is not everything, but it is important. And we live in a strange society where sex is seen as taboo while simultaneously sold as a commodity. A lot of guys learn how to have sex from porn, and the majority of porn is made by men, for men, from the male gaze. This has led to a lot of selfless men who are terrible lovers! No wonder sex feels like a chore for so many women.
If you frequently push away physical intimacy with your partner, would much rather be doing other things (like the laundry!), or feel like it’s as boring as washing up, something is wrong. The first step to fix it is to sit down and have an open and honest conversation about how you feel and what you need. Sometimes people just aren’t sexually compatible, and if that’s the case, accept it and end the relationship so you can find someone who fulfills you that way.
13. You don’t feel valued
The final sign when you know it’s time to walk away from a relationship is that you don’t feel valued. Your partner doesn’t ask for your opinion regarding the big things, they don’t give you space to pursue the things you love, or it feels like you are the only one putting in the work to keep your relationship going. These are classic signs that you are being taken for granted. You deserve so much more than that. Once you realize it, you won’t think twice about moving on.
8 Reasons why walking away is powerful
- You will feel stronger
- You will regain your self-confidence, self-respect, and self-worth
- You increase your value
- You open yourself up to growth
- You take back control of your happiness and future
- It creates space for the right connection and relationship to show up
- It might be the wake-up call your partner needs to step up (but you are under no obligation to stay with him)
- You realize you don’t need anyone else to make you happy, which is powerful!
More often than not, the moment you start to question whether you should walk away is the moment you mentally already have. Many of us view “failed” relationships as a failure on our part, but these are simply lessons and catalysts for growth. It is better to experience an incompatible or unhealthy relationship and find the courage to end it rather than stay in it merely because you want to make it work or don’t believe you deserve better.
Are the signs telling you it’s time to leave your relationship and move on? Share your story with me in the comments below.