When you’ve been dating someone for years, the natural progression for most couples is to get married. Sure, there are lots of relationships where couples decide they don’t want to make their love official, but when you decide not to get married and stay life partners, that’s a decision both people make together. If you’ve been in a relationship with someone for several years with the expectation of one day getting married but things don’t seem to be heading that way, when is it the right time to move on?
A long-term relationship break up can be hard, especially if you’ve invested so much time with someone but feel like you’re on a hamster wheel. So to help you stop watching the wheel go round and round, here are 10 signs it’s time to walk away from your long-term relationship.
1. You always make excuses why you’re staying.
“He’s not that bad… She has her strong points… These are common statements I hear from clients,” says relationship expert, David Bennett. “What they usually tell me is that they know the relationship is over, but can’t face it. If you have fundamental value differences, or just don’t get along, you’ll likely make excuses for your failing relationship a lot.” When you’re having doubts but aren’t ready to walk away yet it’s natural to try and convince yourself that you’re staying for a reason.
2. You only evaluate the relationship from a past and future perspective.
“You rely on memories of past moments or fantasies of potential future moments with your partner to define your stability and happiness in the relationship instead of evaluating the relationship in its more present status,” explains Jen Wilding, a relationship coach and author of Steal His Heart, Save Your Life (just not in that order).
3. The bad outweighs the good.
Some people wake up every day angry at their significant other, resenting the thought of engaging them. “Occasionally they’ll have a good moment, which makes them momentarily forget the daily, regular resentment. If this is how your relationship goes, you need to make a decision: either get help and make it work, or understand it’s probably time to leave,” says Bennett.
4. They told you they don’t want to move forward.
He/she has told you directly or indirectly that marriage is not something that they want but you still hold on thinking you may be able to change their mind. When someone says they’re not interested in marriage, believe them. “If you have the personality of a people-pleaser you’ve probably been in situations where you gave and gave but did not get back. That personality leads you to put aside what you really want, think, feel, or need for the sake of the relationship,” explains psychologist and author, Dr. Paul Coleman.Once you realize this is how you’re acting in a relationship, it’s time to walk.
5. He/she always has a reason for not advancing the relationship.
The reasons your partner gives may seem sound but the bottom line is that nothing is changing. “It should be a priority to advance the relationship if that’s what you really want,” says Coleman. “Meanwhile, you tell yourself you would have moved on already if only (you didn’t love him/her, you didn’t own property together, you felt more self-confident). It’s your fears holding you back, not love or wisdom.”
6. You’ve turned down other opportunities in your career, dating, or friendships and have nothing to really show for it.
“You look back on your life and realize you don’t stick with some things you should (perhaps schooling, a career, exercise, or hobbies) but do tend to stay with things that are less fulfilling. That style of thinking and acting can become so automatic that doing otherwise feels wrong,” explains Coleman. If you feel like you missed out on life for the sake of your going-nowhere relationship, it’s time to call it quits before you miss out on even more.
7. You’re staying for the wrong reasons.
A lot of people stay in relationships long past the expiration date for reasons that have nothing to do with what they get out of the relationship. “Are you staying with them because you’re at the age you should get married? Because all your friends are engaged? Because you may not find someone else? If these are your main motivations, rather than actual relationship satisfaction, then it may be time to walk away,” says Bennett. Breaking things off is hard when you have the same friends or you like your life together, but if you don’t actually love and like the person you’re with, you’re not getting what you should out of your relationship.
8. Neither of you plan anything.
For a relationship to be successful both people have to make an effort. “If only one of you, or neither of you, make the effort to actually plan how and when you spend time together you should be wary. A lot of relationships don’t blow up in spectacular fashion, they simply fade away,” explains dating expert James Anderson.
9. There’s ambiguity about future plans.
“Your partner, who once easily committed to definite future plans with you such as trips, event tickets, family gatherings, and plus-one wedding invitations, is now taking a let’s wait and see, maybe we could do that, or let’s talk about it later approach,” says Wilding. They may be intentionally distancing themselves.
10. Deep inside you feel you have to walk away.
Your subconscious mind knows when things aren’t right, but you have to be tuned into it and in a good place with your self in order to receive and act on the message. “Many people opt for a rationalized detour from the warning message to avoid feeling hurt,”explains Wilding. “But this just delays the healing process, building even more uncomfortable tension over time while you continue to invest your energy and emotions in a relationship that is dwindling.”
A long-term relationship break up takes bravery in a lot of ways. When you’ve been with a person for a long time, you’ve built a life with them and a life around them. The thought of walking away from that life can be daunting. But don’t let the fear of saying goodbye or making a change blind you from the reality that you’re not happy.