Name a fairytale princess, and anyone can tell you how her story ends: married to a prince who she lives happily ever after with. And while we aren't living in a kingdom far, far away, we adapt this idealized ending to our own lives. Finding someone to be the other half of our happy couple is a key goal to dating. After all, it's the holy grail of relationships — or so we've been told. What those childhood tales don't tell us is that Cinderella relocated to Los Angeles for a job and Rapunzel isn't the same person she was at 18 and grew apart from her first boyfriend. Contentment doesn't promise longevity, and unfortunately, sometimes the best thing you can do for your happiness is to end your "happy" relationship.
"Not all relationships are meant to last forever," Kali Rogers, CEO and founder of Blush Online Life Coaching, tells Bustle. "If you want the opportunity to find a life partner, you might need to leave a happy relationship in order to find that."
Being satisfied with your partner is vital, but it isn't the only ingredient for a sustainable relationship. Here are some signs that you should end a "happy" relationship:
1You Don't See A Future With Your Partner
Low-commitment relationships can be enjoyable, but they might not be viable long-term. "Sometimes happy relationships are better categorized as flings," Rogers says. "Things are care-free, laid back, and easy. However, if one or both parties does not see a future (which usually accounts for the ease of the relationship), that could be reason to end a happy relationship."
Obviously if a low-maintenance relationship is what you want right now then by all means carry on. But if you realize you want something more concrete and your partner doesn't, it might be time to end things to find someone who'll be in it for the long haul.
2You Have Conflicting Values
While relationships are all about compromise, your values should be absolute deal-breakers. If you and your partner aren't on the same page about wanting kids or can't agree on a permanent location to settle down, it might be wise to leave your otherwise happy relationship before your values create bigger conflicts. "Knowing these values dear to our heart are already in opposition to each other are grounds to terminate the relationship before it goes too far," Rogers says.
3Your Long-Distance Relationship Is Long-Term
Yes, the Internet is a wonderful thing that makes LDR way easier than they used to be, but dating long-distance can put a lot of pressure on a happy relationship if it's also a long-term arrangement. "Without a plan to bring you both together, that chronic distance in a relationship will become misery," April Masini, New York based relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. "In the long term, these relationships require more patience, understanding, money and flexibility to make work. If you don’t have an abundance of those four assets, you’d do best to move on."
4You're A Spender And They're A Saver
"You may be happy in a relationship, until one or both of you realize that your spending vs. saving personalities don’t mesh," Masini says. This may not seem like a concern now, but any conflicting spending and saving habits between you and your partner can create a lot of friction if you ever decide to get a joint bank account.
"You may like each other a lot, have chemistry and even be happy now — but if you don’t have financial compatibility, you’d do better to part company now," Masini says.
5Your Careers Are Pulling You In Different Directions
Careers are huge parts of our lives and sometimes they can come between happy couples. "This usually plays out when your careers require relocation to different parts of the country or the world," Dalila Jusic-LaBerge, a licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Although you both may respect each other’s choices, neither one of you is willing or ready to give up your career choices."
6You've Both Changed And Aren't Compatible Anymore
Personally, I know that at 21 years old, I'm a completely different person than I was a couple years ago, and who I'm attracted to has evolved as well. Sometimes people change, and it isn't always in a way that's compatible with our partner's personal growth. If you feel like your beliefs, goals, or interests don't line up with your significant other's anymore, it might be time for a change in your relationship status.
Davida Rappaport, a speaker, counselor, and mature dating expert, tells Bustle that when it comes to your new habits, "your partner may not share them or approve of them. This might make you or your partner uncomfortable if you remain in this relationship." Unfortunately, you just might be too different to stay with your bae. "Not all partners are understanding and accommodating, especially if you both are no longer on the same page," Rappaport says.
7You Feel Tied Down
While you may be happy for the most part, if you feel like your relationship is stifling in any way, ending it might be the best option for you and your partner. "One of my clients decided to end a happy relationship because they felt tied down," Rappaport says. "They wanted to give their partner a chance to find someone else who would love and appreciate them."
8You Want To Experience Dating Other People
Feeling like you need to experience dating other people or being single for a while is a valid reason to ending an otherwise "happy" relationship. If this is your first serious relationship or you feel like you've been with your significant other for ages and aren't sure if it's right for you anymore, "with nothing to compare it to, it just might be a good idea to go out and have some dating experience before you settle down," Rhonda Milrad, a relationship therapist and founder of relationship app Your Sage, tells Bustle.
9The Relationship Isn't Sexually Fulfilling
Hitting a rut in your sex life can be normal, but if you feel like your sexual dry-spell is more of a permanent drought, it might be time to reconsider the relationship. Milrad advises to revaluate if "you keep on telling yourself that it will improve over time or that you can’t have everything, but you don’t really believe that."
Natalie Moore, M.A., psychotherapist and owner of Relationship Refuge, agrees that a happy relationship might not be worth staying in if it's not also sexually satisfying. "You might have fun together, work great as a team and get along well," Moore tells Bustle. "But if one or both of you has been sexually unsatisfied for a prolonged period that doesn’t seem to be improving this could mean it’s time to move on."
10You're Worried About Other People's Opinions
Being genuinely happy and appearing to be happy are two different things. "If you only consider yourself to be in a 'happy' relationship because it appears to be perfect to others, then you need to do some major soul-searching," Moore says. "Are you truly happy? If the answer is “no,” then it’s time to consider a breakup."
11Your Gut Is Telling You To End it
Everything in a relationship could be perfect, but if your instincts are telling you it isn't right, don't ignore them. "Yes, every checklist on the planet might say this is a happy relationship, but if your inner dashboard tells you differently, it's time to listen," Bonny Albo, a dating expert and former social worker, tells Bustle.
It can be hard to end a satisfying relationship when you've been told your whole life that the goal of dating is to find someone that makes you happy. But sometimes choosing our own long-term happiness is more important than staying in a relationship that's only enjoyable for now. You never need to apologize for putting your career first or wanting to date other people, even if that requires letting someone you love go.