Relationships aren't kittens and rainbows every day, that's for sure. So knowing when to call it quits, or when to stick it out can be challenging for even the most committed couple.
You likely have firm deal breakers in which it's clear you need to breakup and go your separate ways, but what happens when you're in the gray area?
You're hurt, but you're not sure if it's breakup worthy. You fear regretting your decision, and worry that you'll never find a better relationship.
What should you do?
Here are seven common scenarios in which to makeup or breakup:
1) You found out your boyfriend is still chatting with girls on the dating app you thought he removed:
While dating someone in the early stages, you should never assume monogamy unless you’ve had a direct conversation about exclusivity. If you haven’t had a define the relationship talk yet, then it’s OK for each of you to continue to chat and meet up with new people while you’re figuring out if your budding relationship has potential.
However, if you’ve committed to each other and agreed to delete your dating profiles, discovering that your new S.O. is still chatting with women is a substantiated reason to break it off. He flat out broke your trust.
Before calling it quits just make sure that his purpose of logging online was not to inform other women with whom he may have been arranging dates that he’s officially off the market.
2) He is back to smoking/drinking excessively after he told you he quit:
Addiction problems are serious mental health issues that involve a lot of secrecy, lying, and unfortunately it is not uncommon for a relapse to occur throughout the recovery process. The line between being a supportive partner and an enabler may be blurry.
If you’ve identified your partner’s substance use as a relationship deal breaker, then it’s important for you to set clear expectations with your partner so that he is aware of the consequences of his use.
If your partner is being honest with you about his relapse and taking all of the steps necessary to get back on track, such as seeking professional help and attending AA, you can consider sticking around. However, if he’s lying or not taking responsibility for his actions, then you need to set a firm boundary and walk away.
3) You found out he was lying to you about something big:
You know that healthy relationships are built on honesty and open communication, so you may feel torn when you learn that your S.O. has been lying about something big. Before making a hasty decision to call it quits, ask yourself what was the purpose of the lie and how does it realistically impact your relationship.
Was he embarrassed, insecure, or trying to impress you, and was it a straight up lie or just an exaggeration? If you recently began dating and he bluffed about how much money he makes, this may be a very different situation than finding out your boyfriend of multiple years never really earned that promotion or even got fired and hasn’t told you.
If you’re not able to get over the fact that he lied, and feel that you’ll always question him, it may be time to breakup.
4) He cheated on you and is VERY sorry:
Research shows both physical and emotional infidelity have damaging effects on a relationship, leading to breakups and divorce. However, although cheating may be a common reason for a split, I’ve helped many couples successfully overcome an affair and come out stronger on the other side.
People’s capacity for forgiveness varies wildly. For one couple, infidelity may be a clear deal-breaker, while for another they are open to working through it together as a team.
Don’t make any rash decisions, especially in the tumultuous and emotional time directly following the uncovering of an affair. Working with a therapist or coach like me will help you figure out the best decision for your relationship, and will at least provide better understanding and peace of mind should you choose to end it.
5) He's not as into you as he was:
Your partner’s distancing behavior and need for space may indicate that he is no longer as interested and invested in the relationship. You have a few options here in terms of whether you want to address it, give it some time to play out, or walk away.
Typically someone will only pull away if it’s related to the relationship, otherwise your partner will confide in you for emotional support around stressors such as work, family, or health issues. Ideally, a mature man who is relationship-ready will communicate his interest in your, or lack thereof, so that you’re not left in the dark. This lack of communication may be reason enough to breakup.
If you want to discuss the disconnection directly, say, “I’ve noticed you’ve seemed preoccupied or distant lately, is everything ok?” However, if you’re fed up or unwilling to deal with his mixed signals, firmly tell him, “I’m feeling some mixed messages from you, which is OK, but I’m going to take some space because at this point I don’t want to continue to get closer to someone who doesn’t know what they want.”
6) He made a big life decision without your input
In a relationship, you are teammates and should make big life decisions together. This may include moving to a new city or apartment, quitting a job, buying something expensive, booking travel, or things related to core values, such as deciding to have kids.
Although some of these choices may directly impact one partner’s life more than the other’s, the communication process and valuing your partner’s opinion is important to fostering a healthy relationship. Often times when you don’t consult your partner in making these types of decisions, this can cause significant conflict, break trust, and make your S.O. feel undervalued.
To figure out whether to breakup or makeup, it’s important to sit down and first listen to your partner’s rationale for not including you in the decision, and then expressing how being left out of this process made you feel. If your partner lacks empathy, can’t understand why you are hurt, or blows off your feelings completely, walk away.
7) He always puts his needs first
Whether it’s always hanging out with his friends and never yours, scheduling dates around his availability, or only doing his preferred activities, this is a one-way relationship and you should get out.
Are you both givers, or is one person usually the taker while the other person gives generously? If you’re constantly giving your love, time, finances, gifts, or effort in the relationship, but this goes unreciprocated, you will wind up resentful and hurt.
The give and take can naturally switch back and forth at different points in your life together, but in general there should be a balance. Don’t settle for a selfish relationship. Do yourself a favor: breakup and find someone who appreciates you and recognizes your worth.