How to Know it’s Time to Break Up

Ways to tell that it's time to end it

Breaking up is one of the hardest things we can do. It inspires procrastination in the best of us. Even if you've known for a while that the relationship is on shaky ground, it can be a painstakingly slow process to end things.

There are ways to tell that it's time to end a relationship and bow out gracefully. And know that the road to a fulfilling, lasting relationship will inevitably be littered with a few failed relationships. That is what dating is about - finding out who is right for you and who isn't.

Read on to find out what our experts have to say about the signs that it's time to break up. And see if your relationship is one that can make it, or is on its last legs.

How to Know it’s Time to Break Up

Don't bail too quickly

All relationships are hard, and how we handle our relationships ties back to our relationships with our parents, said Traci Ruble, a marriage and family therapist and director and founder of Psyched in San Francisco.

“I often tell couples, when you sign up, whether through marriage or some commitment to fidelity you are signing up for a healing adventure because no matter how healthy you are outside of the relationship, all relationships light up our innate drive to attach and whatever we learned from attaching to our parents (or didn't learn) wakes up to be worked through in our romantic lives. No matter how good our parents were, we all adapt to our parents' personalities. Often those adaptations we made to mom and dad turn out to be triggers and annoyances to our partner. And so we have to understand and embrace difference, compromise in some places and not in others and stay in a caring and honest stance with our partner - in essence we must grow to do relationship well,” Ruble said.

Before you break up with someone, you need to have an accurate understanding of this growth that you need to have gone through. Don’t label your relationship doomed before you try to grow and adapt to new relationship skills. “I have watched people jump ship right when differences start to show, and that is really the time when the rubber meets the road in the healing adventure you are on. It tends to hit right around the 24-month mark when all the brain's erotic potion of dopamine and norepinephrine wear off,” Ruble said.

But Ruble said there are times when you obviously can't stay:

  1. Your partner is not willing to own their part in the relationship dynamic. I see this often in couples therapy where one partner believes the entire blame for why the relationship is bad is due to the partner. Nothing can be gained if one or both hold this view and the relationship is bound to fail.
  2. You or your partner discover that your values and goals are unbridgeable or just too different. It is hard to bridge that one person wants to have children and one does not. Or it is hard to bridge that one partner wants a sexually open relationship and the other does not. So leaving may be the best course.
  3. The relationship is abusive and dangerous. If you are being lethally injured or members of your family are (your children) or if your sense of self is being compromised because of your partner's actions then protecting yourself by leaving is important.
How to Know it’s Time to Break Up

Other signs it’s over

Lori Bizzoco, relationship expert and founder of, shared her thoughts on how to tell it’s time to break up:

  • You have different values: Although some may say that opposites attract, is it really worth the fights about how many kids (if any) to have or opposing religious beliefs? If you and your partner's ideas for the future are clashing to the point of no compromise, it might be time to end the argument for good and call it quits. Your love life shouldn’t constantly challenge your personal beliefs.
  • Your relationship feels like a comfortable habit: It’s easy to forget the importance of romance when you’re bogged down with work and other responsibilities. At times, you may feel like best friends instead of best friends who are in love. Try to rekindle that spark with regular date nights and little surprises, like a bouquet of sunflowers or that video game he’s been wanting. If these sweet gestures don't help, then you may be better off as friends, not lovers.
  • You’re not communicating: We all know that communication is one of the most important parts of a healthy and happy relationship. If you're not expressing your feelings, there is no way for your significant other to know what you’re thinking. Keeping the truth bottled up inside will only make him resent you…or you resent him. Lack of communication is a sure sign that it's time to assess your relationship.

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Lifestyle / Relationships

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