How do you know it’s time to end your relationship? It often starts small. Something feels different. And eventually, everything comes crashing down. All romantic relationships go through rough tides, but sometimes you just know the end is near, and the best thing you can do is to end your relationship.
That almost-right relationship is so hard to leave. After all, it’s almost right! Yet staying with someone who’s not what you need virtually guarantees you won’t meet someone truly right for you.
Here are five common, research-backed situations when an ending is definitely needed.
1. When They Lack Even One Of Your Must-Haves.
Don’t make someone your project; you are your project and they are theirs. Find someone you like as-is, not someone you want to fix! If your sweetie has a deal-breaker, the deal is broken. Find out and get out early, or repent at leisure.
I knew a couple who didn’t want to look at their Must-Haves—so they married without discussing whether they wanted children. She didn’t. He did. The marriage ended over the bitterness that ensued. They spent countless hours and dollars and tears in therapy, all because they wouldn’t have the tough conversation and do the breaking up when it would have made sense: during courtship.
Sooner is better; break up as soon as you know the deal is broken. If you’ve waited past that time, the second-best time is now!
2. When The Pain Outweighs The Pleasure.
From Shakespeare’s plays to today’s music scene, it sounds as if turmoil, drama, and angst are natural parts of dating. And they are—natural parts of dating the wrong one. Folks, if this person isn’t a good fit, you don’t have to ask why. There could be dozens of reasons, but they all add up to: Move on. The right one feels right! Intimacy with them feels wonderfully life-affirming. Don’t sign on for less.
Oh, it’s so tempting to tell ourselves we don’t really need [name the quality you really do need]–especially when this person has so much else that we want. Near-misses suck! But if this person isn’t who you need in courtship, your own common sense and many, many studies indicate they’re even less likely to be who you need later on.
3. When They Don’t Love You (Enough).
Judson knew only too well how that feels: “Cora and I have everything in common. We go on outings anyone else would call a date, take care of each other when we’re sick, and talk every day. But there’s no physical intimacy, and never has been. More than once she’s said the vibe isn’t there for her, and friendship is all I can expect. A year ago, I took a break to check my emotions, and all that broke was my resolve. I called within a month. Now I’m in love. Is there a way to remain Cora’s friend without it getting in the way of my finding someone else? How do I get over her? Last time, that didn’t work so well.”
Or consider this letter from Julie: “I’ve been dating Cal for half a year, during which he’s introduced me to his parents and taken me on weekends with his friends. He hasn’t called me his girlfriend, hasn’t said he loves me, and hasn’t asked to be exclusive, but his friends said Cal talks about me more than anyone else he’s dated. We have great sex, but there’s never a mention of the future. Finally, I couldn’t stand the confusion anymore. I sent him an ‘I love you, do we have a future?’ text message. He became very distant and (eventually) sent this reply: ‘Hey, Sweetie. I don’t want to tell you this, but although I care for you it’s not on the level that you care for me. I don’t want to hurt you, you’re great. I just don’t see a future together.’ He hasn’t asked to see me again. His response has me more confused than ever. What’s your interpretation and advice?”
Judson and Julie may love their partners, but without their partner’s love, it’s just a Better-Than-Nothing time sucker and emotion waster. Quit them cold-turkey. Unrequited love is broken love. Don’t settle for it.