You’re unhappy after seeing them
Spending time with your partner shouldn’t feel like a chore. If being with them, or the thought of being with them, isn’t filling you with happiness or excitement then it may be time to analyze what’s changed in your relationship, and what you want to do moving forward. Do you want to try and reignite that spark? Or do you think you’ve become incompatible?
You’ve changed and they haven’t
Have you changed as a person since you started the relationship? Maybe you’ve changed your goals for the future and they no longer align with your partner’s, or you’ve adopted a different lifestyle and your partner is unwilling to try new things with you, or you have new hobbies and you’re not able to spend as much time together as you used to. Walking away from a relationship because of this can be painful, as no party is at fault, but you have to give yourself permission to be fully yourself, and surround yourself with people who support you.
The only thing keeping you together is the past
Shared memories can be a wonderful way of connecting with your partner, but sometimes they can also elucidate what you desire for the future. Many people in relationships struggle with the sunken cost fallacy: this concept encompasses the idea that because you’ve invested a significant amount of time in someone, there’s a sense of obligation to stay in that relationship, otherwise the time spent with that person becomes ‘wasted’. It’s okay to realize that just because things aren’t working now, doesn’t mean the memories you have together are any less real.
You don’t feel the same way you used to
Human emotions are innately fickle, so there’s always the possibility for them to wane and grow. This shouldn’t be a source of shame- recognising these feelings will enable you to identify the origin of the change, and if there’s anything you or your partner can do to work through it.
You’re at different stages in life
People will always have different goals they envision for themselves in the future. Naturally, these will fluctuate over time as we develop as individuals and gain more life experience, and everyone will discover themselves at their own pace. There’s no shame in being at a different life stage to your partner, but you need to assess if it’s something either of you are willing to work past, or if your respective partner’s lifestyle is compatible with the other’s.
You feel like they’re holding you back
A partnership should offer a feeling of unconditional support and security. The person you’ve chosen to share your life with should encourage you to be the best, most authentic version of yourself, and to pursue anything that will help you realize that version of yourself. Of course, every relationship has to have compromises, but if you feel like your partner is stopping you from growing as a person, or is keeping you in a state that doesn’t accurately reflect who you are anymore, then that’s a problem.
You don’t have anything in common anymore
A huge part of a relationship is cherishing time spent together. Opposites can absolutely attract, but finding a shared hobby or activity the two of you can enjoy together, whether that’s watching films, hiking, painting, or playing video games, gives you the opportunity to bond with each other. If you aren’t able to spend time as a partnership doing something you both enjoy, or one or both of you are unwilling to take part in something important to the other, it may be difficult to remain together.
It’s hard to talk to them
Ideally you’ll feel comfortable talking to your partner, and conversation between you will flow naturally after you’ve developed that sense of security in your relationship. However, if dialogue between you and your partner has suddenly become stilted or forced, it’s possible both of you have changed as people and it may be time to evaluate the situation.
You don’t want to spend time with them
If it feels like an inconvenience to spend time with your partner, or you don’t look forward to seeing them, it may be that you’ve grown apart, or your opinions of them have changed. Have you noticed a pattern in their behavior that makes you feel unwilling or indifferent about spending time with them? What activities are you doing together when you meet up that’s influencing these feelings?
You can’t see them in your future
If you’re in a long-term relationship with the goal of staying together permanently, it’s important to look at the compatibility of your future goals. Do you want the same things out of your relationship? Do you have similar lifestyles that would mesh well together? Are the things that would impact the prospect of you having a future together negotiable or solvable with a compromise, or are you stuck between a rock and a hard place?
You don’t get along with their friends
Who people surround themselves with can be a huge indication of who they are. Observing how people interact with their friends and their different relationship dynamics can give you a new perspective on their personality and values- do they show a different side of themselves with others? Is that a part of them you like? Do they call out their friends’ bad behavior when they see it? How do they talk about your relationship to others?
You only focus on your incompatibilities
When you find yourself only able to focus on the negatives, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship. Are these incompatibilities insurmountable? Do they represent a difference in fundamental values? Or are you trying to justify to yourself why things between you just won’t work? If you find yourself consumed by the negative, take a step back and remind yourself of the things you like about your partner. If one or both of you have changed significantly, is it something you can work through? Or have you outgrown each other?
You’re in a different place to when your relationship started
Change and growth throughout a relationship is normal and even positive. However, if you find your circumstances to be completely opposite to when your relationship started, it may have run its course. Perhaps one of you has a job opportunity in a new city you don’t want to miss out on, and the other doesn’t want to move or go long distance, or maybe you’ve changed your mind on a topic such as marriage or children. Circumstances changing doesn’t have to foretell the end of a relationship, nor do they represent a failure on anyone’s part if neither is able to move past it.
You have new friends
Our friends are often a reflection of ourselves. We choose to spend our time with them, whether that be due to similar hobbies, values, or personalities. If you’ve recently gained a new friendship group, sometimes this may be a representation of a change in your identity, especially if you’ve drifted away from people you used to call close. Do the friends you’ve left behind personify things you didn’t like about yourself or your life in the past?
You want to move
Where we live is important in many aspects. It dictates the life we’re able to lead, how close we are to our friends and family, or what job prospects we have. It is extremely important these align with our partner’s plans, as it can easily lead to one or the other fostering resentment at having to compromise their wants or needs.
Immaturity can mean different things to different people. This may mean they don’t have the ambition you look for in a partner, they respond to conflict in the relationship in an inappropriate way, or they don’t take on a fair amount of responsibility within the partnership in regards to things like finances or household issues.
You fight often
Being in a relationship should mean being a team. It’s normal to have occasional disagreements, and it’s only right to stand up for yourself if you believe your partner has done something inappropriate or hurtful. Still, you shouldn’t constantly feel like you’re walking on eggshells, or like you’re unable to voice your opinion without it devolving into an argument.
You handle conflict differently
Conflict is a part of any relationship, but the way you approach problem resolution can be an indication of emotional maturity and long term compatibility. Respecting the way your partner communicates is extremely important, and if your partner refuses to resolve a conflict or apologize and take accountability for things they’ve done to hurt you in an argument, that can be a telltale sign of a bigger problem.
They don’t pull their weight
Does your partner expect you to shoulder the majority of the household chores, childcare, or finances without putting in any effort themselves? Every relationship is unique, but if you’ve agreed on the split of responsibility a certain way and your partner doesn’t adhere to their portion, it’s time to have a serious conversation.
They put you down
While this may seem obvious on the surface, oftentimes when we’re put down by our partner it can be easy to blame ourselves. Your partner should build you up and make you feel appreciated and cared for, as though you’re the best version of yourself. They certainly shouldn’t whittle down your self-confidence until you believe you don’t deserve any better.
They don’t support you in moving forward
Change can be scary, but it can also be extremely exciting. Whether this is following a lifelong dream, changing your lifestyle to something that fulfills you or trying something new, you and your partner should try to work together to find a way to help bring these things into fruition in a way that strengthens your bond and relationship. Sometimes, however, this isn’t possible, no matter how hard we try, and that may mean it’s time to let go.
They vent about your relationship to others
While seeking outside counsel can be extremely useful to gain perspective on relationship issues, your partner’s first instinct should not be to paint you in a bad light to their friends or family every time you argue, or to share things with them that you’ve told them in confidence. When you have a problem, your priority should be communicating with your partner to work towards a solution.
You want marriage, but they don’t – or vice versa
Marriage can be a contentious topic between couples. It’s also a huge commitment for all involved- financial, social, and legal. If marriage is something that you value and view as a goal in a relationship, and you’ve reached the stage where you’re considering it, but your partner doesn’t feel the same, it may be that the relationship has come to a natural end. The same is of course true if they want to do it, but you don’t.
Your values don’t align
‘Values’ can mean anything from lifestyle, to social issues, to life and career goals. Take some time to identify what your core values are in life, and whether your relationship aligns with those goals. While a difference of opinion is entirely normal in a relationship, your primary values are a reflection of you and your morals, and if your partner’s vary largely from yours, that can be something important to consider when thinking about the future of the relationship.
They don’t stand up for you
We all want people we love to have our back, particularly when it comes to a romantic partnership. Your partner should largely be in your corner. If someone, such as a friend or family member, is making inappropriate comments to or about you, how your partner reacts can be a huge indication about the future. If they’re reluctant to stick up for you for the sake of avoiding confrontation, their priorities are likely not with you or your relationship.
You don’t get along with their family
This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. However, if you’re planning on spending the rest of your life with someone, their family can be a huge part of that for them. How they treat you, and how your partner reacts to their actions, is likely a sign of how they will continue to treat you in the future. If your partner refuses to set boundaries with their family, you may need to reconsider the relationship.
They don’t make time for you
Being in a relationship involves carefully considering your partner and making them feel loved, considered and respected. While it’s important to cultivate your own identity outside of your relationship, it’s a clear warning sign if your partner seems disinterested in spending time with you.
They don’t communicate
Communication is arguably the most important staple in a relationship. It can be an issue, as not many people enjoy being vulnerable or addressing problems in a relationship. However, it’s important you and your partner are on the same page, and are aware of the way each other communicates, as this allows you to be open and honest about your feelings and understand the other. If your partner is unwilling to work on this, it could be a sign of emotional immaturity.
You’ve had a career change
Job changes can be an exciting time for any couple, but can also have repercussions for a relationship. Maybe this changes the dynamic in regards to finances, or changes your overall financial situation. This can be a sore spot for some people who feel like they need to be the higher earner or main provider, and someone being unwilling to navigate this topic with you can put a huge strain on the relationship.
They don’t want to commit
Commitment can mean a variety of different things depending on an individual’s expectation for the relationship. This could be agreeing on exclusivity, getting a pet together, moving in together, marriage or a civil partnership, or a host of other things. If you desire commitment from someone and they’re unwilling to give it to you, it’s likely a sign you’re not compatible in the long term.
They remind you of the past
If you’re trying to move on from an unhappy period in your life, having a partner that reminds you of that time can be counterproductive to your growth and make it more difficult for you to heal. Of course, your partner can also be a huge support for you, but if being with them only elicits memories of a negative experience or time period instead of them being a source of comfort for you, it unfortunately might mean moving on from the relationship may be what’s best for you.
They’re financially irresponsible
Many milestones in a relationship can involve sharing or being tied to each other’s finances, such as marriage, buying or renting a house or even getting a pet. If your partner is spending money frivolously and this is impacting your financial security, this is an extremely stress-inducing situation to be in, and can put strain on any relationship.
They hold the past against you
Slip-ups are inevitable in every relationship, and it’s unfortunately impossible to avoid hurting your partner at one point or another, intentionally or otherwise, and it’s important to take accountability for these things when they do happen. However, if your partner agrees to work past a problem and then continues to hold it over your head in order to manipulate you, it can lead to an extremely unhealthy dynamic.
Your friends don’t get along with them
Being in a relationship requires faith in your partner, and defending them when appropriate. However, if important people in your life express their concerns to you, it’s important to take them seriously. Sometimes, outside parties can spot things we can’t in a relationship as they aren’t emotionally invested, so evaluating their words can give you insight into behavior you may not have considered before.
They refuse to take things seriously
Those who don’t take things seriously in a relationship may not be fully ready for one, or they may be uncomfortable being vulnerable or expressing emotions. If you’ve voiced that something matters to you, your partner should make an effort to give it thought and consideration, even if it’s difficult for them.
They’ve stopped putting in effort
It’s normal for the butterflies to subside after a while of being together. However, the more comfortable your partner is with you, the more likely they’ll show you who they really are. Being in a committed relationship is always going to require continuous effort to keep things fun and ensure you’re feeling loved and attended to, rather than falling into complacency once they feel like they’ve got you emotionally invested.
You feel trapped
Feeling like you’re with your partner because of a sense of obligation can lead to an extremely unhealthy dynamic. Whether it’s because you believe you have no other options, because you’ve put so much effort into a relationship that is no longer what you want it to be, or because your partner is stifling you, you need to navigate a situation in a way that’s healthy for both of you. Unfortunately, this can sometimes mean ending things.
You haven’t taken any big steps in your relationship
Taking things at a pace that’s comfortable for everyone is extremely important, however it’s also important for you to feel fulfilled in the relationship. It’s okay to have certain wants and goals, and if your partner isn’t able to help you achieve those wants and goals or come to a compromise after you’ve articulated their importance, and it’s a dealbreaker for you, then you may simply be incompatible.
When we’re in a relationship, especially during the ‘honeymoon period’, it can be easy to experience intense feelings towards your partner and constantly want to spend time with them. But it’s important to establish our own identity and allow our partner to do the same, in addition to respecting each other’s boundaries.
They’re not there for you when it matters
It’s easy to be there on good days. However, someone who stays with you during tough times is often a true indication of the longevity of a relationship. Your partner should be willing to offer you a shoulder to cry on, and if they can’t, then they’re likely not committed, or are unable to offer you the support you need.