A guide to if it's time to say goodbye

Tara Blair Ball

If these ring true for you too, it may be time to say goodbye.

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

As a Relationship Coach, I hear from clients frequently: It’s only a problem sometimes. It’ll get better! I just need to wait it out.

When I was in an unhealthy relationship, I too read all of the articles and discounted them.

“Waiting it out” turned into months or years I’d then wasted on relationships that were obviously bad for me from the very beginning. I’m persistently stubborn, a quality that can be positive, but when it comes to hanging onto an unhealthy relationship, foolhardy and dumb.

More often than not, I hung on so long because I didn’t want to feel like I’d failed. My self-esteem was too wrapped up in whether I was in a relationship or not, so singlehood felt like emotional destitution. I had to get over this excessively flawed thinking to recognize that sometimes the kindest thing I could do for myself is to end a bad relationship and move on. Staying is too serious of a threat to one’s mental and physical health.

Here are five signs that it’s time for you to let go and move on.

1. There is disrespect.

You might believe you’re smarter, better looking, more successful, etc. than your partner, and you like to tell them so, or they do it to you. You laugh at their choices or decisions, or they do it to you.

One of you tells unkind jokes about the other, and one of you also spends every spare moment complaining about the other to anyone who will listen. When you get into a fight, it’s not long before there are screaming and name-calling.

A relationship simply can’t thrive if there’s disrespect. The best relationships are founded on kindness, decency, and courtesy, and those are all lacking if disrespect exists.

2. There is distrust.

Trusting that your partner will show up to the restaurant on time or notify you that they’re going to be late is just one small portion of trust. Real trust involves trusting your partner in every context, that they will honor the promises and boundaries you’ve made to each other no matter the situation.

In a healthy relationship you earn the trust of your partner, but if there’s a trust issue, then there’s some work to do. If you or your partner don’t put the work in to regain the trust of the other, then it’s not a relationship worth staying in.

3. You have vastly different expectations.

Relationships built to last are founded on both individuals having similar goals, values, and beliefs. If you want to get married by the time you’re 35, move back to your rural hometown, and have 2.5 children while your partner would prefer to be childfree, and live in a major city, then there’s no possible way to compromise on these large issues.

We can compromise on smaller issues with our partners, but smaller issues would be like how often do you stay over at each other’s places or where you’d like to go on a date night. You have to think similarly on the big issues, or your relationship is doomed.

4. Your relationship expectations are unreasonable.

When I married my first husband, I expected him to change. Not just a little, but a lot. I expected reciting our vows would suddenly turn him more extroverted and forthcoming. I expected that instead of the both of us watching TV in silence on separate edges of the couch, we’d chat and cuddle.

It was unreasonable for me to expect that the man I dated and then was engaged to would download an entirely new personality after we’d married.

Your or your partner’s expectations may be similarly unreasonable. Maybe they expect you to completely stop hanging out with your friends, or you expect them to pay for all date nights, even though you bring home fairly the same amount of money.

If it’s you that has unreasonable expectations, it’d be time to re-evaluate. If it’s your partner, you can communicate your issues with them, and if they don’t change, leave.

5. You don’t sacrifice for one another.

Healthy romantic relationships require compromises that aren’t always in the individual’s best interest, but they may be in the relationship’s best interest. You and your partner will need to make sacrifices at some point for the other, and it shouldn’t be wholly one-sided either.

For example, maybe your partner wants to go back to school, which would mean you’d need to work longer hours to make up the financial difference or pick up the slack in terms of childcare or housework. Or maybe you’re sick, so your partner needs to cancel their night out to help take care of you.

A healthy relationship encourages both members to be the best they can be. If that’s not happening, then it’s not a relationship that should be held onto.

It seemed like every time my ex and I had a fight or disagreement, I’d turn to Dr. Google to assess our chances of success. I searched for proof that our unresolved issues would somehow lead to a lifetime of happiness. I read information that told me our future, but I ignored it.

Whether you consider these is up to you. I wasn’t ready for the truth until I was ready. What knowing these signs did for me is make it so I didn’t make the same mistake in my next relationship. I hope the same for you as well.

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Tara Blair Ball is a Certified Relationship Coach and author of Grateful in Love: A Daily Gratitude Journal for Couples, A Couples Goals Journal, and Reclaim & Recover: Heal from Toxic Relationships with a 7-Step Guided Journal. She has a Master's from the University of Memphis and is accredited by CTAA. You can find her on Tiktok, Instagram, or YouTube at @tara.relationshipcoach.

Memphis, TN

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