As Pat Benatar once wisely sang, love is a battlefield. Although it can be worth it to put your all into keeping a relationship alive, sometimes it’s time to wave the white flag. You shouldn’t see that as anything close to a failure! Instead, breaking up so you can find someone who’s right for you means you’re brave, empowered, and a whole host of other flattering adjectives. And keep in mind that most of the items on this list are by no means set in stone—these things vary from couple to couple.
16 Signs you may Want to Break Up
1. If sex seems as appealing as having your next five dentist appointments in one go.
Every long-term relationship has its ups and downs. There are times when you want to spend a lifetime having sex with this person, only taking quick breaks to refuel. Other times, your libido packs up and goes away on sabbatical, leaving you the opposite of turned on. (Where does it go? Maybe on a restful spa trip? One can only guess.) But if the thought of having sex with your partner makes your skin crawl, or your libido is only interested in other people, the base attraction that’s necessary to keep a relationship going may have left the building.
2. If they won’t support you in front of their family or vice versa.
I had a friend whose relationship was the romantic equivalent of a puppy cuddling an infant: almost sickeningly adorable. The only issue was that her boyfriend’s family refused to meet her because she happened to be of a different race than them. Out of fear of alienating his loved ones, my friend’s boyfriend never pushed them to open their minds or got honest with them about how much the relationship meant to him. Even though my friend was head over heels for the guy, she called it off because he couldn’t back her in that vital way. After a certain point, the feeling that he was ashamed of her was too painful for love to be worth it. Of course these situations are complicated and can have many root causes beyond race, but standing up to your family about the person you care about is usually a non-negotiable.
3. If they’re abusive.
No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship, whether it’s physically or emotionally. Here’s some information about how to get out of an abusive relationship in the safest way possible.
4. If it’s not that extreme, but they always seem to be stuck in mean mode.
When someone constantly makes you feel bad about yourself (even without meaning to!), they’ve got to go. Being single is better than being with a person who drags you down rather than lifting you up to be your most badass self, which should really be one of the major benefits of being in a relationship.
5. If your goals in life are complete opposites.
Say your partner wants to live in the heart of a big city while your ideal future home is the most Pinterest-perfect countryside barn. Compromise is always an option, but when you have wildly different ideas for how you want life to go, one person might have to give up too much of themselves to truly be happy.
6. If everyone around you is telling you to dump them.
When your family and friends have superficial reasons for wanting you to break it off, feel free to ignore them. Who cares if your partner wears band tees instead of business suits? But if you have a nagging feeling that their concerns are valid, then it might be worth listening to their input. After all, who knows you better than them?
7. If you can’t stand their everyday habits.
It’s normal to drive each other a little nuts sometimes—maybe her gum chewing mimics a cow’s a little too closely, or his inability to hang up a wet towel boggles your mind. But if their little quirks inexplicably flood you with rage, that’s not a pleasant way to live for either of you!
8. If you’re always nervous about them cheating.
Maybe they’ve strayed before, or perhaps you’re worried because some of what they say doesn’t add up. Either way, you should never have to be insecure 24/7 about whether someone is staying faithful. Think of all the other things you could do with that time, like finding someone who doesn’t have a suspiciously convenient excuse as to why there’s a pair of someone else’s underwear in their bed.
9. If you can’t stop dreaming about traveling the world on your own.
Sometimes people crave a period of solo time to find themselves, and settling down before then doesn’t feel right. Even if the person you’re with is pretty much perfect, the timing can be off because you just haven’t finished growing. Take a breather and know that if the relationship is right, you can come together again, and if it’s not, you’ll find someone who’s a better fit for the more evolved you.
10. If you don’t agree about children.
This applies if your partner is all about that family life while you never want to have children or the reverse. But it can also come down to how you’d want to raise those theoretical children politically, religiously, and morally. If you’re totally opposed on those biggies, you can expect more than a few clashes getting in the way of your domestic bliss.
11. If nothing you do together excites you.
While a relationship can’t be all thrills all the time, one completely devoid of any exhilaration isn’t much fun to be in. When you’re together long-term, there will be periods when your sex life is pretty quiet, which is ideally when activities outside the bedroom make you excited to be with this person. And if everyday life is feeling too routine at times, hopefully your sex life keeps you both delighted. Point is, regular excitement is key.
12. If you’re constantly fighting about the same things.
Fights are necessary in relationships, but the idea is to grow from them into an even stronger couple. If you’re reliving the same arguments over and over, it could be a sign that there are some issues you might not be able to overcome. At the very least, it’s a clue that they may be too big for you to take on by yourselves, which is when seeing a couple’s therapist can come in handy.
13. If you think it can all work out if one of you makes some changes.
Hoping that you can change someone is usually a recipe for disaster, as is trying to change who you are just because you think it’ll make someone else happy. Sure, everyone should be on a lifelong quest to improve, but it’s often hard for changes to stick if they’re for anyone but yourself.
14. If you’re always riding an emotional roller coaster.
It’s easy to confuse the drama of fighting and making up for actual passion, but they’re not one and the same! If you’re routinely going from relationship highs to lows fast enough to get whiplash, both of you might be better off finding something more stable—or being single!
15. If you can’t stand each other’s friends.
Totally fine if you both aren’t exactly fond of one or two members of your partner’s crew, but if you’d like to ship the whole lot of them to another planet, it’s a no-go. How are you supposed to have the Friends-like dynamic where you all get along famously, become a de facto family, and have a cool hangout spot with your names on it?
16. And if your gut is telling you it’s time to end the relationship.
Women’s intuition is no joke. Even if you can’t put your finger on what exactly is off, simply knowing something’s not right is enough.