Breaking up is hard to do. Knowing when to break up can be even harder. Despite how hard it is, learning to recognize when you need to break things off is a great life skill and an important way to take care of your needs. If you’re questioning whether you need to end your relationship, ask yourself the following questions.
Do you still love/care for them? This may seem like an obvious one – you’re dating, of course you care about them! Sometimes it can be easy to mistake true feelings of love for feelings of comfort or familiarity. Feelings of love are meant to evolve and change as relationships progress – you’re not going to feel the same way when you’ve been together for a year vs. a month. But be careful not to fall victim to the "sunk cost fallacy", a phenomenon that motivates people to stay the course on a decision which may not be the best for them, just because they’ve invested time or money into it. If you believe that your feelings towards your partner have changed and a romantic relationship isn’t right for you anymore, don’t let how much time you’ve been together factor into your decision.
Are you happy in the relationship and when you’re with your partner? An excellent way to tell whether it might be time to end a relationship is to take notice of how you feel when you’re with your partner. Do you have fun and feel like you can be yourself around them? Do they make you feel good about yourself? If the answer is no to either of those questions, think about whether this person is right for you. The simple solution may be to have a conversation about your feelings, or it might be time for you to re-evaluate.
"...be careful not to fall victim to the "sunk cost fallacy", a phenomenon that motivates people to stay the course on a decision which may not be the best for them, just because they’ve invested time or money into it."
Do you have the same values? Are there any deal breakers? Could you see yourself with your partner a year or two down the road? Despite the best intentions in the world, there are times where practical matters can make or break a relationship. For example, you both may be considering attending post-secondary school a few hours apart. Are you willing to carry out a long-distance relationship? There are many situations, and each are unique to the people involved. While it’s tempting to let your heart lead the decision, don’t forget to take practical concerns into consideration.
Safety and Well-Being
Does your partner threaten your physical, emotional, or mental well-being? If you are being physically abused, this is a clear sign to end a relationship and seek support from a trusted adult and/or a professional counsellor or therapist. However, just because your partner isn’t physically hurting you, does not mean that they are not abusing you. Abuse can be emotional as well as physical. Is your partner kind, supportive, honest, and communicative? Or do they lie, manipulate, gaslight, or say hurtful things to you? Kids Help Phone has a great article on healthy and unhealthy relationships, which is a wonderful read if you’re not sure where your relationship stands.
Remember, your partner should make you feel safe and encourage you to be your best. If you feel that you may be in an abusive situation, talk to an adult and your friends. Ending an abusive relationship safely is extremely important; Here is an excellent article about breaking up safely from Love Is Respect.