How to know when to end a relationship

Knowing when to end a relationship can be really difficult at the best of times, never mind if you’ve been with your partner for donkey’s years. Even if the relationship isn’t going very well, you might not be able to comprehend a life without them. 

Should I end a relationship after seven years?

“My seven-year relationship doesn’t seem to be working anymore. Looking back, I think there have always been problems. Sadly, things have gotten worse recently. My boyfriend is lovely and we get on well, but we’ve always stayed in a lot. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, I didn’t want to be tempted if I met someone else. And the other part is that he doesn’t seem interested in my friends, what I say, or what I’m doing.

Over the past six months we’ve split up twice and we’re about to split for a third time. When we break up I feel I’m doing the right thing. Problem is, after a while I worry about him and miss him so much. Eventually, I always end up going back to him. I’ve just started seeing someone else and my boyfriend has become completely paranoid. I don’t know what to do now because I feel like I still love him.”

Being scared of having to end a relationship, especially a long term one, is normal

It sounds like you’re very unhappy in your relationship but you’re scared of leaving because you’re afraid it’s the wrong decision. This is perfectly natural. Seven years is a long time for romantic relationships. Expecting to let all those feelings go overnight just isn’t realistic. Thing is, you probably can’t even remember what your life was like before him. People can become habits too – the good kind as well as the bad. 

For more advice on knowing when to break up, check out our article ‘should we break up’ here, and our article on taking a break in a relationship here.

Have you grown apart, or are you stuck in a rut?

Over time, people grow and change. Good relationships survive because partners grow together or somehow manage to accommodate each other’s changes. Perhaps when you met your boyfriend you were a perfect match. But as time went on, for whatever reason, you stopped making each other happy. It’s nobody’s fault, you just haven’t developed together. From what you say, he doesn’t go anywhere, doesn’t care to mix with your friends and doesn’t even have anything to say to you. That’s not healthy. Even after seven years, you should still be able to have stimulating conversations. From everything you’ve told us this isn’t the case for you guys. We’re no relationship expert but we’d say that you’re in a bit of a rut.

If you’re cheating, it might be time to move on

How to know when to end a relationship? Cheating is definitely a red flag and should signal that it’s time to move on.

You say you love your boyfriend, but now you’re seeing someone behind his back. Honestly, this isn’t completely unexpected given how unhappy you’re feeling. We reckon that you need to get out of the relationship to feel good about yourself and to go out and do new things. If you can’t get this from your boyfriend it’s likely that you’ll look for it elsewhere. Meanwhile your boyfriend might be starting to realise that something isn’t quite right, hence the paranoia. Maybe he’s unhappy as well, but he doesn’t have the strength or desire to confront this. In this case, it’s up to you to end the relationship. Cheating is just hurting the both of you and can’t be sustained in the long run. 

For more info on what to do if you’ve cheated, read this article.

You’ll meet new people in future

Of course, leaving is scary. It’s completely normal to be scared of the unknown. No one can tell you for certain that everything will be alright if you leave. Or even that you’ll easily meet someone new. It’s impossible to predict the future. But if you’re thinking ‘Should I end my relationship?’ That might be a good indicator that it’s time to be single. 

The good news is that being single isn’t all that bad. One thing that we’d put good money on is that you’ll be free to be yourself, to see your friends, pursue your interests, go out and have fun. And just remember that the right person is out there waiting for you. Even if you have to meet a few wrong ones to get to them.

Relationship counselling

Alternatively you might want to try relationship counselling. This could help the two of you to voice your concerns about the relationship and maybe even re-capture what you used to have. However, if you’ve thought about how to know when to end a relationship and realised that yours is over, then individual counselling could still help. It will allow both of you to readjust to a life apart. 

Breaking up and staying together are both difficult decisions

If you leave your boyfriend it’ll be painful for both of you, but at least that pain will heal. Staying together when you’re both unhappy will most likely just keep you in this cycle of unhappiness. Ultimately, it’s only you who can answer the question Should I end my relationship. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s the right decision for you, even if it’s difficult. Sometimes being happy means getting hurt along the way.


Next Steps

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 25-Dec-2021