The end is nigh.
For many couples, the road of a relationship eventually comes to a giant fork — one direction headed to happily ever after, and the other ending in heartbreak.
When this fork comes, it’s perfectly natural to wonder how to know when to break up. After all, calling it quits too early can leave you wallowing in regret and wondering what could have been.
No one — not your therapist, your mother, your best friend or even an online article — can truly tell you how to know when your relationship is over. It’s something only you and your partner can decide.
But, there are plenty of signs that can warn you of impending doom. And here are 13 of the biggest ones:
1. Your relationship lacks communication or affection.
Saying that no communication in a relationship is bad may be met with a huge “Duh!” and deservedly so. But, communication and affection are the most integral parts of a relationship.
If your “I love you” and “how are you” have turned into little more than “Don’t forget to pick up milk,” consider your relationship in trouble.
2. You have no sex life.
The absence of a sex life may seem inevitable when two people have been together for so long, but sporadic sex is different than no sex.
If sex has become a chore rather than a jolly good time, your relationship needs some work.
3. You have low self-esteem.
In a good partnership, people should lift one another up, not bring them down. If you’re second guessing yourself and only staying above water because of hope, your relationship has already begun to drown.
4. You have no time for each other.
You don’t need to spend every second with your significant other, but you should spend a lot of them. No time for one another is a classic sign that your relationship doesn’t stand a chance.
5. You’re losing friendships.
One of the difficult things about relationships is that they don’t just merge two people, they also merge two social circles. Sometimes those circles mold together to form a larger radius, and other times they just leave everyone bent out of shape.
If you’ve been forced to stop seeing friends or family because your partner doesn’t like them, you might be better off wondering less about how to know when to break up and instead actually doing it.
6. You don’t have fun together.
People do all kinds of things to have fun—go out to the bars, play sports, go hiking, etc. If your list of fun things to do no longer involves your partner, there’s a reason.
A couple that can’t play together is very unlikely to stay together.
7. You keep score.
A relationship is not a golf game; you don’t need to keep score with miniature pencils.
Routinely reminding your partner that you cooked last night so they must this night or that you saw their family last weekend so they must see yours this weekend can quickly lead to the game being over.
8. You’re spending all your energy treading water.
Maintaining a relationship is like running in place … it gets you nowhere. Instead, your relationship should be evolving—you should be building on your foundation, not smoothing over some gaping hole.
If things aren’t going forward, they’re spiraling out of control and learning how to know when to breakup might be an easy answer: right now.
9. You always fight about the same problems that never get solved.
Fighting about the exact same things over and over until you wash, rinse, repeat is not a healthy union. If you can’t break the cycle, it might be time to yank out the plug.
10. You’re being stonewalled.
Anyone who goes to their partner with concerns about a relationship should be met with receptive ears. Stonewalling and invalidating another person means two things: Nothing will get fixed and happiness will not return.