One of the first questions to ask yourself is why you’re staying in your current relationship.
Can you think of some valid reasons? If not, it might be time to face the fact that you may only be staying in your relationship because you’re afraid of being alone.
In other words, your partner could be filling a void, which could explain why you’re terrified that you may feel empty when they’re gone.
It’s normal to want to improve your partner, and hope that they can do the same for you. For example, many couples may work on enhancing their communication quality, or how they deal with conflict. Indeed, people can change to a certain degree. But if you’re waiting for your partner to alter their core values or morals, or to change their mind about how they envision the future (i.e., getting married and/or having kids) then you may have a valid reason to consider a break up.
The first step in this situation is to open up a discussion about the matters you disagree on. If you and your partner are able to compromise on these issues, then there could definitely be hope for your relationship. Otherwise, you can rest assured that you may experience less longterm regret after breaking up with them. After all, how can you be happy with someone who can’t make sacrifices for you or doesn’t even share your vision of the future? Even if you love someone, sometimes that love is not enough to sustain a lasting relationship. The right person will want to meet you in the middle on matters that are important to you.
When you’re in a happy, healthy relationship, you won’t likely find yourself pondering the other fish in the sea — at least not often. Of course, it’s normal to have occasional doubts about how your partnership will play out longterm (hence the common experience of cold feet before getting married), but if you’re frequently wondering whether there’s someone better for you out there, that can be a major red flag.
Trust is arguably the most important factor in a relationship. So no matter how much you love someone, if you feel like you can’t trust them, the odds that you can sustain a healthy relationship are slim. Need proof? A 2013 study from Northwestern University and Redeemer University College found that those who trust their partners are more likely to be in long-term and successful relationships.
We all have the tendency to change a little bit in a new relationship. Maybe we alter our hygiene habits, or take up some new interests. Ideally, the changes we observe in ourselves are positive. But take note if you don’t feel good about yourself anymore, or you don’t like who you’ve become. Especially if you’ve been with someone for a long period of time, these alterations to your personality, values/morals, and habits can be so subtle and gradual that you don’t even notice they’re happening until you don’t recognize yourself anymore.
If your love life has completely sidetracked you from your dreams and estranged from your own passion projects, deciding to end the relationship you’re currently in will save you from waking up one day in a life that doesn’t resemble the vision you had for yourself,” explains Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and the podcast host of Thank You Heartbreak. “Ending this kind of relationship now will also save you from feelings of resentment, pity, detachment, and self-blame. If you’re not being loved in a way that frees you up to be more yourself, then you will never regret loving yourself enough to free yourself first.”
So take a hard, honest look at your relationship. Have you abandoned any of the things that were important to you or made you happy since dating this person? Does your partner ever say or do things that undermine your self-esteem? Has your self-image suffered over the course of the relationship? These are all signs that you might be justified in considering a breakup with your SO — and furthermore, that you may be grateful you decided to do so in the long run.
Hesitance to go through with a breakup is totally typical — after all, choosing to detach yourself from someone who has played a major role in your life as of late can be scary. That’s why Trescott advises seeking out some back up from friends and family before you end things.
“If you’re afraid you’ll regret your breakup, start calling in support now who can act as a sounding board before, during, and after the breakup,” she says. “This will keep you honest about any and all the feelings you’re experiencing but will also keep you accountable to all the positive and necessary reasons you are craving change. The best thing you can have post-breakup is someone who will let you air your fears — and who can validate them with you — but won’t let you be taken down by them, especially if the fear linked to regret makes you want to return to a relationship that is familiar and easy but that you have ultimately outgrown.”
If any of these signs sound familiar, there’s a good chance that you can confidently end your relationship without feeling like you made a massive mistake down the line. And even though it may hurt for a while, time truly does heal most wounds.
As Trescott points out, “If you prioritize your own well-being and that small but significant voice within you that is begging you toward change, you will never regret ending your relationship.”
That said, it’s common to feel some uncertainty after ending a relationship. You need time to grieve the loss and get used to a new life without them. But as you gradually heal and have time to reflect, you’ll hopefully see that not only did you make the right decision, but you gave yourself the best gift of all: an opportunity for a fresh start, whether on your own or eventually with someone new. And if you’re feeling worried you’ll never fall in love again. remember: ending things with the wrong person brings you one step closer to finding the right one.