7 Signs It Might Be Time to Let Go
1. You Feel Anxious When You Aren’t Together
When you’ve spent a few hours away from your partner, you find yourself checking your phone, having trouble making decisions on your own and worrying that something’s going to go wrong. While you might have initially thought that this is a reason you should be together (everything’s so much better when it’s just the two of you, cuddling on the couch), this isn’t the case, says Jill P. Weber, Ph.D. If you’re constantly second-guessing yourself, it could be a sign that your friend or partner has a hold on your life—and the decisions you make—in a toxic way.
2. You Don’t Feel Like Yourself
A healthy relationship should bring out the very best in you. When you and your friend or partner go out together, you should feel like your confident, gorgeous and carefree self, not jealous, insecure or ignored. If you’ve been feeling worse off when you’re with this person, there may be some toxic stuff going on.
3. You’re Giving Way More Than You’re Taking
We don’t mean material stuff and grand gestures, like roses and truffles. It’s more about the thoughtful little things, like rubbing your back without being asked, taking the time to ask about your day or picking up your favorite ice cream at the grocery store—just because. If you’re the only one going out of your way to do these special things for your partner and they never reciprocate or return the gesture (especially if you’ve already communicated that this is something you’d like), it might be time to give the relationship a closer look.
4. You and Your Partner Keep Score
“The ‘keeping score’ phenomenon is when someone you’re dating continues to blame you for past mistakes you made in the relationship,” explains Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Once you’ve resolved an issue, it’s an extremely toxic habit to unearth the same argument again and again, with the intention of one-upping (or worse, embarrassing) your spouse. For example, let’s say you went out with your friends last summer, had three too many Aperol spritzes and accidentally broke a lamp. If you’ve already talked it out and apologized, there’s no reason for your spouse to continually bring it up every time you and your friends have a drinks date.
5. You Suspect Your Partner Is Gaslighting You
A common reason you might want to let go of a relationship is if you suspect you’re being gaslighted. Though it can take many different forms, at its core, gaslighting is a communication technique in which someone causes you to question your own version of past events. Most times, it’s meant to make you feel like you’re losing your grip on reality. In its milder forms, gaslighting creates an unequal power dynamic in a relationship. But at its worst, gaslighting can actually be considered a form of mind-control and psychological abuse. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there are five distinct gaslighting techniques:
- Withholding: The abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen. Ex. “I don’t want to hear this again,” or “You’re trying to confuse me.”
- Countering: The abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events, even when the victim remembers them accurately. Ex. “You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly.”
- Blocking/Diverting: The abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts. Ex. “Is that another crazy idea you got from [friend/family member]?” or “You’re imagining things.”
- Trivializing: The abusive partner makes the victim’s needs or feelings seem unimportant. Ex. “You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive.”
- Forgetting/Denial: The abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what actually occurred or denies things like promises made to the victim. Ex. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re just making stuff up.
6. You Make Too Many Excuses for Them
If you find yourself constantly having to defend your partner’s actions (or inactions) to your friends and family, your loved ones may be onto something. If your significant other doesn’t make the effort to show up for you, help around the house or simply make the effort to meet your needs—hello, weaponized incompetence—yet you find a way to consistently justify their behavior, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.
7. You Want Different Things
Tatkin tells us, "A very good reason to break up is that the two of you are pointing in different directions. In terms of Big Ticket items, you do not agree and you want different things—by Big Ticket item, I mean, one person wants polyamory and the other person wants monogamy, one person wants children and the other does not or one partner cannot live in the country and must live in the city, while the other partner feels exactly the opposite. These are called deal-breakers. And unless and until partners can resolve them, deal-breakers do not go away and they eventually cause big problems."
Sometimes things just end, not because the relationship is bad, but because you and your partner are no longer on the same page. Perhaps your goals in life have changed, maybe they’re not keen on taking the relationship to the next level or you simply feel like the relationship has run its course. Whatever the reason may be, if you feel like you can’t progress, it’s time to let go.