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Should I Break Up with My Boyfriend? How to Know It’s Time

A girl wondering, "Should I break up with my boyfriend" while sipping coffee and watching the sunrise.

Similar to getting into a relationship, getting out of one is a huge decision. If you haven’t been happy in your relationship for a while, but aren’t sure if it’s time to say goodbye yet, it can be hard to know where you stand or where things are. You can love a person and not want to be with them any longer. Or you can love someone but know that it’s never going to work with them.

Here are a few instances you should pay close attention to if you’re unsure about whether or not it’s time to break up with your boyfriend.

Things feel stagnant.
If you’re ready to take the next step—whether that’s marriage, a child, buying a house together, moving in together, or something else—and your boyfriend is not, it may be time to move on. Try not to be hasty. If you’ve brought up wanting to get married once and he hasn’t asked yet, it’s not necessarily time to jump ship. But if you know for a fact you want to get married and he never does, it’s probably time for you to ask yourself if this is the right relationship for you.

If you know you want to have children one day, even way in the future, and he’s sure he doesn’t, it might be time to call it. You deserve to be with someone who wants the same big things as you do, and so does your boyfriend.

It’s not better this time.
Couples break up and get back together all of the time. So many people come back together after months or years, sometimes decades, apart. The reunion love story can be a really romantic one, and it’s appealing for that reason alone. But it’s not always the right thing. If you’re back together with an ex and it feels the same, it may be time to move on from that relationship forever. No one needs to be in the same relationship over and over again—especially if it isn’t progressing.

You aren’t attracted to him. 
This one may seem obvious, but a lot of people will forget to check in on their physical and emotional needs in a relationship. If you find yourself intellectually or physically turned off, it’s time to ask yourself why. If the physical aspect of your relationship isn’t as big of a priority as it used to be, you may just not be attracted to your boyfriend anymore. It’s a combination of reasons and certainly isn’t always a reflection on his body or anything superficial. Attraction grows and changes over time and if you aren’t attracted to your boyfriend anymore and can’t work past that, it’s probably time to break up.

You wonder what else is out there.
Oftentimes, if you find yourself unattracted to your boyfriend, you may find yourself attracted to other people instead. It’s completely natural to wonder what else is out there. If you find yourself staring at a cute stranger on the bus or flirting with your barista, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve fallen out of love with your boyfriend. Attraction and flirtation are completely normal, healthy parts of life. However, if you’ve noticed that you cannot stop dreaming—literally or figuratively—about what else is out there or what your life would be like with so-and-so, it’s not the best sign for your relationship’s future.

You keep thinking about your ex.
Speaking of daydreaming about other people, are you still in love with your ex-boyfriend? It’s a direct question, but an important one. Sometimes, when we try to move on from one person, we end up seriously entangled with another. If your boyfriend was the result of an attempt to get over an ex, it’s easy to tell if it’s working or not. “Rebound” relationships have the potential to work. There is nothing wrong with moving on quickly if it’s a valid reason. If you really like or love someone else, even if it’s immediately after a breakup, great. But if you’ve been dating someone in an effort to make your ex-boyfriend jealous or even just for him to take notice, you haven’t processed your feelings in a responsible way. If you find yourself obsessing about your ex-boyfriend with no end in sight, it may be time to end things with your current boyfriend. It’s not fair to either of you.

You can’t stop fighting.
Fighting is a big conversation. Bickering happens in every single relationship, from the romantic to the professional. It’s not worth throwing away a relationship over a few disagreements. But fighting is different. If your boyfriend has ever physically hurt you, do your best to safely remove yourself from the relationship and seek help. If it’s not that serious and you’re not in physical danger, a breakup due to fighting incessantly is still probably the right idea. If you two fight about everything from where to go for dinner to who to vote for in your local elections, is this really the best relationship for you? Fighting is stressful, and you deserve to live as stress-free as possible.

He’s disrespectful.
To you, to your friends, to your coworkers, to your family, to servers or bartenders or baristas or bus drivers. Whoever and wherever your man is acting disrespectfully, you should get out of that relationship. Do unto others—and if your boyfriend is not treating people the way he expects to be treated, it’s a bad sign for the future. Break up with him.

You don’t trust him.
Whether or not he’s done something to break your trust, if you simply cannot resolve that nagging feeling of, “What is he up to?” it’s probably time to reevaluate. If your boyfriend has done something to break your trust and you can’t get past it, it’s definitely time to end it. If it’s mostly in your head, there’s still some reason you keep going back to checking his location and casually reading his email. Neither of you deserve to be in a relationship that lacks trust. If you have the conversation and still can’t get past it, it’s time to break up.

It  doesn’t feel right.
Sometimes, a simple feeling is all it takes. It’s harder to explain to your boyfriend or to anyone else, but you’re your own top priority—or you should be. If you just have a feeling that this isn’t the right relationship, or that he’s being unfaithful, or that there’s something better for you out there, it’s your prerogative to pursue that feeling. Breaking up is hard to do—but you have to look out for your own health and happiness.

If you have been running through these thoughts or feelings about your boyfriend, it may be time to break up with him. Have the conversation, try to work it out if you feel so inclined, otherwise, let him down easy and move on with your life. You deserve to be happy.

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