I’ve interviewed many of my clients about their past relationships and they almost always tell me one thing: they stayed way too long. For whatever reason, they got into long term relationships and didn’t leave even when they knew they needed to exit.
Many relationships are past their “sell by” date. Whether it’s marriages, engagements, living together, or any type of long term relationship, they’ve stopped being fun, exciting, interesting or passionate in any way.
Yet, in spite of being miserable, many people still don’t know when to break up a long term relationship. This can occur for many reasons and they might have many excuses. For many people, staying together is just easier.
So, they are miserable, but they take the easy way out. But, long term, most people can’t keep that up. So, they want to see signs that it’s OK to leave their partner. This article will give those to you. If you see them, the time to break up is NOW.
External Forces Keep You Together
When you first dated your partner, I’m sure things were very different. Even if you knew your partner had flaws, you were excited about the relationship and were driven to be with that person.
However, as time goes on external forces can start to drive your decision to stay with your partner. Where you used to be driven by love and passion, now other people and things might be keeping you together. They could be:
-Religious and cultural values
These are all important factors in decision making. But, if these are all that’s keeping you together, then it’s probably time to separate.
Fear Drives You
Fear is a huge driver of many human decisions. It’s not something we even typically realize. It also is a huge driver of failed relationships. There are many fears that keep people stuck right where they don’t want to be.
You might fear being single because you’ve been in a relationship so long. It’s possible you fear getting back in the dating game. Maybe you fear loneliness and the judgment that comes from not having a partner.
Perhaps you fear the judgment of God or family members. Maybe you worry that your boss or community will condemn you if you get a divorce or break up. Perhaps you fear hurting your partner’s feelings.
These are all normal feelings. However, do you want to be driven by fear or positive factors? Look into the reasons you’re staying with your partner. If you feel like it’s coming from fear, then you should look into breaking up.
You Become Just Friends
I’ve met many couples who get along well with each other. They enjoy hanging out with each other and get along well enough. Obviously they are good friends. However, some couples only act like friends. None of the romance or passion is left.
This is a harder case of knowing when to break up a long term relationship. Obviously, it’s a good thing that a husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend are good friends.
But, is that all you have? If you’re just friends with your partner and you want more (like passion), then it could be time to end the relationship.
Attraction is an important part of any healthy relationship. You find your partner attractive and this leads to intimacy. However, many relationships lack a healthy sexual expression.
I often get a lot of criticism for saying this, but physical, sexual expression is an essential part of any relationship. Granted, some couples might not care. But, the majority do. And, pretending it’s not important is just forcing people to lie.
Yet, studies show that sexless marriages are very common. This doesn’t even take into account long term relationships. However, a relationship without sex isn’t a true romantic partnership. It’s just a glorified friendship.
Again, if you’re both happy in a sexless relationship, then do as you please. However, if you’re unhappy and your partner isn’t meeting your needs and doesn’t care to meet them, then it’s a good reason to end it.
Spending Time Together Is A Chore
I’m sure you can list things you love to do. And, if you love doing an activity, it’s a safe bet that you don’t have to force yourself to do it. For example, I have no doubt that when you watch your favorite show, you can watch several episodes without getting sick of it.
How do you feel about your partner? Is hanging out with him or her a chore or fun? Do you only spend time with your husband or wife out of pity? Do you see your boyfriend or girlfriend only because you think it’s a duty?
If you’d rather do anything else than hang out with your partner, then the time to break up is now.
You’re Embarrassed/Ashamed of Your Partner
A friend of mine never went out with his girlfriend. In fact, many of us assumed that he wasn’t even dating someone!
It turns out that his girlfriend was constantly rude to other people and he was ashamed to take her around his friends, family, and co-workers.
If you hate bringing your partner around other people because you’re ashamed, embarrassed, or even disgusted by your partner than when to break up a long term relationship is probably now.
You Constantly Fantasize About Others
One of my former clients told me the final straw in his previous relationships. He had been with a woman who constantly put him down and treated him poorly. He told me that he always found himself fantasizing about being with other women.
He’d meet someone nice and he would think about how much better his life would be with her. While he didn’t even know these women well, he still knew it would be better than living in misery with his current girlfriend.
If you’re constantly fantasizing about being in a relationship with other people because it seems like a better alternative to your current relationship, then it’s a strong sign you’re unhappy and need a change.
So, these signs should help you realize that it’s time to end your long term relationship. While one sign might not be strong, if you have several of them, you’ll have to make some difficult decisions. Ultimately, however, getting out of a bad relationship can be liberating.