Signs That It Could Be Time To Break Up

Dayana Sabatin

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“He’s suffocating me.”

The other day I had a conversation with someone very close to me. Let’s call her Miranda. Miranda has been in a serious relationship with a man (we’ll call Bob) for 6 years. They split up a few times, but it was only for a short period of time.

Miranda has 3 kids, one of whom lives in another state but helps out whenever she can. Her other two children are in elementary school. She’s a fantastic mother, works hard to provide for her children while working a low-paying job where she’s on her feet for 12+ hours a day.

Miranda told me that she wants out of her relationship, but she’s afraid. For the last 6 years, she has spent an incredible amount of time trying to help Bob change his ways for the better.

While he’s a kind man, Bob struggles with anger issues, lack of financial stability, and he’s often unkind to her and one of her daughters. He belittles them, and when the 3 of them lived together, he once went so far as to kick them out.

Now Miranda lives in her own 2 bedroom apartment with her daughters but in the same building as Bob, which is why it was incredibly challenging for them to stay away from one another. Bob gave Miranda the false hope that he would change for the better and be more loving to Miranda and her precious girls.

“Why are you afraid to leave him?” I asked. I was stunned.

After hearing about Miranda’s on and off relationship with this man, I couldn’t understand why she kept coming back to him despite all of his wrongdoing. Why can’t she just leave him? She doesn’t even live in the same apartment as him anymore.

Miranda’s answer was painful to hear. She’s a single mother with no family to help her and her girls. Bob often helps take them to appointments when she’s working, if she’s struggling with bills, he’ll take care of them, and there are occasions where he did show his love and affection.

She believed the little good he did for her and her family would be enough to compensate for the emotional abuse, but after 6 years of it, Miranda has had enough.

She has a decision to make. Will she continue the relationship despite knowing he’s never going to change?

Or does she stay based on that tiniest glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, he’ll become the man he always promised he’d be?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for 6 years, shame on me.

Why do people stay in long-term relationships despite seeing all 100 red flags?

Psychologist Joanna Pantazi says that we tend to attenuate our partners' positive traits to sustain and strengthen our bond with them.

For example, anytime Bob showed even the slightest bit of emotional or mental abuse towards Miranda, she would automatically start thinking about all of his positive traits. Like the fact that he was extremely generous and kind on occasion.

Despite the undeniable presence of negative aspects of our partner, we often disregard or even forget them because of the positive gestures our partners would make.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are the positive traits that you see in your partner outweighing the negatives? If not, reassess.
  • What are the negative traits you’re bypassing to amplify the positive traits in your partner? Are they small things like constantly leaving dirty socks on the floor? Or is it something more serious?
  • Is this relationship sustainable in the long run?

Is being lonely that much worse than being with someone who makes you feel lonely?

Some people believe that a bad relationship is 10x better than no relationship at all.

Let’s put an end to that once and for all. Would you rather be lonely at home watching reruns of Friends and eating takeout, or would you rather be lonely with a partner who actively makes you feel lonely despite them being next to you?

Fear prevents you from making the right decision. Your fear of being alone for the rest of your life deprives you of the opportunity of meeting someone who does make you feel happy and who is actually good for you.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is it worth it?
  • How can being single be worse than the emotional abuse you’re suffering?
  • What are the pros and cons of staying in the relationship?
  • Why are you settling for less than you deserve?

Is your need to fix your partner clouding your judgment?

Miranda had an inherent need to fix her partner. She admitted that even in the early stages of their relationship, she noticed some extremely toxic flaws.

For example, his temper was uncontrollable. If Miranda didn’t pick up the phone within the second ring, he would be outraged.

However, she felt like she could be of help. She could teach him to control his temper, she could counteract his adolescent behavior with her own maturity, she could do x, y, and z, and then eventually, he would become the perfect partner.

You can’t change someone. Especially a grown-ass man who’s been doing life in a particular way for the last 40+ years. It’s not your obligation, nor your responsibility to be mommy to a grown-up.

Especially when they treat you poorly and belittle you.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you so focused on changing your partner's behaviors that you’ve been bypassing your own needs?
  • When is the last time you chose yourself instead of your partner?
  • Have you been so blinded by the illusion you have in your head of your partner that you can’t accept the fact that they’re the exact same person you met 6 years ago?

Are you being loved, or are you being manipulated?

When you’re being manipulated, there’s no room for love.

There is only chaos.

Psychologist Sherrie Campbell says,

Manipulation is based in my way or the highway dynamics, where a difference of opinion is seen as offensive and belittling to the opinion of the other. Disagreements escalate into full blown arguments or horrible silent treatments until the more passive partner succumbs, and either apologizes for their difference of opinion, or changes their opinion all together to fit the manipulator’s needs.

I asked Miranda what her and Bob’s arguments look like. After all, all couples fight, and it’s healthy to have disagreements. You’re never going to agree on things 100%, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s encouraged.

Healthy people accept and expect their partners to be different from them.

It’s not easy to tell the difference between love and manipulation. This is why a lot of people end up with manipulators.

Unhealthy relationships are based on manipulation. Manipulators aren’t interested in loving you and having a healthy relationship.

Their only goal is to have you conform to their needs, and as a result, believe that what you have with one another is love.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your partner guilt or shame you?
  • Do you feel fear as the first emotion when your partner calls you?
  • Does your partner blame you for every argument?

Letting go of a relationship that you’ve been invested in for a long period of time can feel brutal.

Like Miranda, you might be feeling stuck. Maybe you rely on someone to help you financially, or you’ve simply been with them for too long, and you’re afraid of being lonely. You feel helpless. Frustrated that this happened to you, and maybe you’re even questioning if you’re the one who caused it all in the first place.

It’s not worth it. It’s not worth rehashing and stressing about it. If you feel like the relationship needs to end, you have to do it. It’s not worth your time or health to keep trying to fix something that wants to remain broken.

You are worthy of wholesome and selfless love, the kind that will support you and nurture you. Not the kind that breaks you down and causes you to walk on eggshells every day of your life.

It’s out there. However, first, you need to stop depriving yourself of the opportunity to experience that kind of love.

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Freelance writer sharing thoughts on self-improvement, productivity, and success.

Santa Monica, CA
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