Often, people can sense when something is wrong in their relationship, but don’t know whether the things that are bugging them mean the relationship is coming to an end. There are the obvious things like abuse or falling out of love with someone that lead to break ups, but then there are those not-so-obvious things. Things like not calling each other to say goodnight when you once did or not missing each other when you’re apart.
We think of breakups as being big dramatic events, but more often than not, the end of a relationship comes from a slow erosion of a connection. The reasons you should break up are often small things that build up, and because of that it’s not always obvious that there’s something really wrong.
Below are eight expert approved, not-so-obvious reasons to break up with someone:
1. Loss of a sense of self and purpose.
In other words, your identity gets entangled in the other person and your needs are unmet unless they emotionally fulfill them. “You rely on your partner for happiness, protection, approvable, and leadership,” says psychologist, Dr. Dara Bushman. “In the movie Jerry Maguire, he is quoted saying, ‘You complete me.’ Often, this phrase gets misconstrued. A solid relationship is when you are whole alone, solid and strong and then enhanced and inspired by a partner.”
2. If your conversations lack depth.
Meaningful conversations are essential to intimate connections and maintaining a passionate relationship, explains Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist. “If conversations are mundane (work, weather, TV) and exclude deeper topics like your greatest fears, philosophies and dreams, you may want to reconsider whether you’ll feel fulfilled in the long run.” Forever is a long time to make small talk. If you can’t take it to a deeper level, your relationship may never make you happy in the way you want.
3. You’re sexually incompatible.
This is a bigger deal than you might think. “Sexual compatibility isn’t determined by destiny—it’s the outcome of collaboration and work. However, if you’re not willing to put in a similar amount of effort, you may find yourself at an impasse that could eventually lead to breakup,” explains O’Reilly. If you want sex daily and your partner only wants it once every two weeks, you’re not sexually incompatible. As long as you’re both on the same page when it comes to communication and behavioral change, you can make it work.
4. Not enough positive interaction in proportion to negative.
Every relationship has its difficult moments but according to Dr. John Gottman, the guru of love science, there needs to be 5 positive interactions for every negative one to maintain an overall sense of goodwill in a relationship. “This level of positivity requires work that couples often are not knowledgeable about or prepared to do,” explains Laura Petiford, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Instead they take a slow ride down the slope of dissatisfaction unwittingly.”
5. Not staying true to your core values
“Being a healthy member of a relationship means that you know yourself and what’s important to you and not settling,” says Petiford. “Yes, a relationship is about compromise, but it’s essential to know where your hard lines are and stay true to them.” Failing to do this in the beginning means you either delay recognizing the incompatibility or you give up parts of yourself to stay in the relationship.
6. Your partner is unbelievably charming and you can’t find anything wrong.
Too much charm is usually not a good thing. “Charm tends to hide bigger issues behind a person’s personality when it’s constant or excessive. It feels good in the beginning, but it could be huge red flag and depending on the circumstance, a reason to call it quits,” says Amanda Berry, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Revive Relationship Therapy.
7. You’ve stopped fighting.
Healthy couples fight (never physically). “Some people gauge their relationship success by the prevalence (or lack of) fights, but research shows that happy couples don’t avoid conflict,” says O’Reilly. “If you refuse to fight over core (important) issues and you cannot be bothered to do so, this may be a red flag.” It’s especially problematic when something is really bothering one partner, and the other still refuses to address it.
8. Actions don’t line up with words.
Many people in failed relationships feel that their partner’s promises or verbal commitments don’t match their actions. “At times, they wait forever and ever for the actions to follow. Although it may not be clear for a long time, see if your partner is doing what they say consistently—this concept sounds simple but can be very difficult to implement at the beginning of a relationship,” says Berry. If their words and actions don’t match, it’s OK to call it quits.
Walking away from a relationship is always difficult, but staying with someone who isn’t making you happy or who you’ve drifted away from can be painful in another way. Take a look at yourself and your relationship and don’t be afraid of the uncomfortable truths. They may be the secret to both of your future happiness.