- Laurel Steinberg, PhD, New York City-based relationship expert and psychotherapist
- Maya Maria Brown, international matchmaker and relationship expert
- Susan Winter, relationship expert and author of Allowing Magnificence, Older Women/Younger Men, and Breakup Triage
- Tennesha Wood, matchmaker and dating coach
Upfront, it’s worth acknowledging that you can certainly feel love for your partner while also deciding that your best option now is to end your romantic relationship with them. People and the life circumstances they encounter are equally dynamic, and the time or energy you’ve poured into a relationship in the past shouldn’t be reason alone to stick with it. Perhaps you’ve drifted out of the honeymoon phase with a partner only to uncover that your values aren’t as aligned as you thought. Or maybe you’ve each entered different stages of life, and your day-to-day realities are no longer as compatible.
In any case, it helps to consider a few perennial reasons to break up with someone, according to relationship therapists, when making your decision. These scenarios will help you determine whether your relationship is worth working for—or if you’re clinging to a prior or nonexistent version of your partner at the expense of your well-being.
7 reasons to break up with someone, even if you still have love for them
1. You have cyclical arguments
You both feel past the point of compromise and effective problem-solving, as evidenced by you having the same argument repeatedly. “No matter what you do and how you try to rectify issues that arise with your partner, there seems to be no peaceful solution,” says relationship expert Susan Winter. “This process is exhausting and disallows any partnership growth.”
On the one hand, it’s possible that the arguments are highlighting a fundamental difference of opinion. But, on the other hand, incompatible communication styles could be to blame. “Maybe it feels like you and your partner speak different languages,” says matchmaker and dating coach Tennesha Wood. “You’re both talking, but it doesn’t lead to a deeper connection, reflecting poor communication.” In either case, putting a final end to the cycle may be well worth it.
2. The thought of freedom is exhilarating
Perhaps you feel trapped by your partner, at times, or you’ve started daydreaming about what your life might be like without them in the picture. Maybe you watch shows about people living single, freewheeling lives, and you envy them—and not because they get to drink and play pool with strangers, and not even because they can have the kind of thrilling sex that knocks over bookshelves. Instead, it's because the only person they have to deal with is themselves.
“Having solitude and alone time is necessary in every relationship, but if you find yourself wanting to be away from your partner consistently, it's time to consider leaving.” —Tennesha Wood, matchmaker and dating coach
“Having solitude and alone time is necessary in every relationship, but if you find yourself wanting to be away from your partner consistently, it's time to consider leaving,” says Wood. If you aren’t sure whether you just need some healthy separation or you’d be better off separating, Wood suggests the “garage door” (or front door) test: When you’re home and you hear the door open with your partner pulling in, are you happy or sad at that moment? If the answer is the latter, you'll know a break-up is overdue and it's time to move forward.
3. You don’t get to be your full self in the relationship
It’s a cliché for a reason: Your partner should bring out the best version of you… or at least a really good version that jibes with your own understanding of yourself, pre-relationship. And if you’re finding that certain core elements of who you are have been suppressed or changed in the relationship, it might be time to do some self-exploration or call it quits, says Maya Maria Brown, an international matchmaker and relationship expert.
“Do you find that you used to be really silly and joke around, but since you started this relationship, you haven’t really been that goofy version of yourself at all? Or maybe there’s a part of you that wants to take life more seriously, but with your partner, it’s always fun and games and running away from the tough stuff,” she says. Or, perhaps most challenging, you find that being with your partner brings out parts of you that you don’t particularly like, she adds—for example, a pessimistic or judgmental streak. In any of these scenarios, your relationship may be getting in the way of your identity, which is one of the strongest reasons to break up with someone.
4. Your points of view are exceedingly different
Rather than reflecting simple disagreements, your differences of opinion feel fundamental and high-stakes. Perhaps, something in the news shines a spotlight on a key divergence of political perspectives, or a conversation with friends reveals a side of your partner that you never knew they had and which you simply can’t subscribe to. Any of these differences may be reasons to break up with someone, particularly if they seem to come up often.
“If you feel embarrassed in front of others when your partner speaks, breaking up might make you happier,” says relationship therapist Laurel Steinberg, PhD. “Additionally, you may be left wondering if people feel bad for you because of having this partner, which could cause you to distance yourself to avoid feeling this way.”
5. You don’t feel like you’re part of a team
It’s unlikely that you and your partner contribute exactly equally to the success of your relationship, whether in terms of completing household chores, planning dates, paying for things, or even investing emotional energy. But if you feel as if you’ve taken on a significantly larger burden of the overall workload without recognition, that’ll quickly lead to a dip in satisfaction with the relationship, says Brown.
And on the flip side, if your partner seems to take the lead on all the big decisions or activities, or sucks all the emotional energy out of your dynamic, you could feel similarly siloed—this time sidelined, rather than forced to play the main part. “In both cases, whether you feel responsible for most of the relationship’s well-being or you feel entirely left out, you might want to consider picking a different teammate or being your own teammate,” says Brown.
6. There are too many long-standing resentments
Different from outward conflicts, these are the issues that seem to curdle within you over time. Whether your partner previously broke your trust or made a big life decision without looping you in first, the thought of this thing or misstep alone leaves you brooding, despite the fact that you’ve talked it over and said you’ve forgiven them. “Resentments kill our attraction, desire, and intimacy,” says Winter. “And resentments that are allowed to linger will eventually destroy our love.”
7. Your visions for the future don’t align
Maybe your five- or 10-year plan involves buying a home in the suburbs and having two kids, and your partner hopes to travel the world with no ties, says Wood: “Staying in a relationship where your plans for the future are drastically different can leave one or both people feeling like they have settled.”
The partner you’re with should be a person whom you can see as a character in your own vision for the future, and vice versa. That also means they’ll be the person standing by your side at future life events, good and bad, says Brown: “Is this the person you want to bring to your brother’s wedding? Do you want them with you at a family member’s funeral? Can you imagine them by your side at the doctor, whether you’re getting good news or bad?” If the answer isn’t a ‘yes’ to all of the above, chances are, the reasons to break up outweigh the benefit to staying together.
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