13 Women On The Moment They Knew They Had To Break Up With Their Partner

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

One moment, everything may be wonderful in your relationship; the next, something can happen and that’s it — you know it’s over, or about to be. Of course, other times, you may ignore signs and red flags that the relationship is not headed in the direction you want it to go. But, regardless, when you get to that breaking-point moment, there’s no going back — you know it’s the moment you have to break up with your partner. For instance, a few years ago, I was dating someone with a drinking problem, and when his drinking and anger mixed one Halloween, that was it. (Now, I find it’s easier to date without drinking in the equation at all, but that’s another story.) You, too, have probably had that one defining moment that told you it was time to break up with someone. Granted, it’s not necessarily an easy thing to do.

Lindy Lewis, a Banking from Breakup Coach & Expert, helps women become more powerful, confident, and happier versions of themselves following their breakup. “Sometimes, in order to find yourself, you have to walk away from someone even though you don’t want to,” she tells Bustle. “It may be the toughest decision you have to make, but you may have no choice if you want to get back into the driver’s seat of your life. Even though it’s hard, your breakup may be the best thing that happened to you.”

Yes, though it may not seem like it’s the best thing at the time, I agree with Lewis that a breakup *can* be the best thing down the line. Below, 13 women reveal the moment they had to dump their partner, and you’ll probably be able to relate.

1Justine, 26

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“After ending a five-year on-again, off-again relationship, I finally closed that chapter of my life by dating someone else; I was 20 at the time. During the summer, we were both interning during the day and spending the evenings together. I made it clear in the beginning of the relationship that I couldn’t handle long-distance relationships, and he said we could discuss it closer to the end of summer. A week before I went to school, I took a day to contemplate whether or not I would endure the long-distance struggle. I didn’t feel that I was ready and quickly realized that I wasn’t fully invested in our relationship. I didn’t even like him that much; I loved the attention he gave me, especially after a long-term relationship — he was a temporary replacement. In addition, two others girls that were interested in him kept inserting themselves into our relationship.

When I told him I wanted to end it before heading back to school, he was shocked and abruptly told me to leave, so I did. I heard through the grapevine that he was heartbroken, and I carried that emotional weight with me for the first few weeks of school. However, I stopped bearing the weight when I heard he visited campus and stayed with one of those girls mentioned earlier. I guess it all worked out in the end, because shortly after our breakup, I met my now-fiancé and he dated one of those two girls!”

2Meghan, 23

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“When I was 22, I was dating this guy I met on Tinder, and we’d been together for a couple of months. He was my type to a T and I was so happy that he wasn’t a catfish. One night, I saw a DM on my Instagram from a girl I didn’t know. It turns out it was his ex-girlfriend, and she explained that while he and I were dating, they were sleeping together. He told her that we ‘weren’t serious.’ That obviously made me upset, because I was so into this guy. When I confronted him, he lied and said it wasn’t a big deal. Clearly, he was not over his ex. I broke up with him and said I hope you and her have a great life together. I wish he had just admitted his wrongdoings and at least apologized.”

3Cynthia, 74

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“One morning, I woke up next to my husband in what was an unsatisfactory marriage and I felt naked, like, ‘What am I doing with no clothes on in front of this person?’ That was when I knew it was time to get out. I got up — he was still asleep — got dressed, quietly packed a bag with some essentials, packed another bag with essentials for my then-two-year-old daughter, got her out of her crib, and fled. I called him later to tell him I wouldn't be coming home and to make arrangements for him to see our daughter.

I was 27 at the time and the fault of the marriage failing lay on both sides. For my husband’s part, he stopped talking to me beyond what was necessary, didn’t cuddle me, and went from wanting sex twice a day before we got married to wanting it once every two weeks once the rings were on our fingers. For my part, I expected him to complete me. I hadn’t yet learned that we all need to complete ourselves and can’t expect someone else to do it for us.”

4Robyn, 37

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I married my high school sweetheart when I was 25. We were on the same page about everything at the time: home ownership, kids, even the age at which we wanted to have them (30), etc. When 30 hit, and we were on the same page again — ‘let’s wait another year or two.’ At 32, I was ready, and when I addressed it, my now-ex told me he doesn’t want to have kids anymore. He said he’d made the decision six months prior and apologized for not telling me sooner. (We were Sandy victims, and he claims that experience contributed to his decision.) I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach: Alarm bells went off in my head. And I cried, a lot.

I didn’t dump him at that specific moment (it took me three months), but that’s when I knew this relationship had to end. To this day, I am convinced I mourned that relationship in reverse, meaning, I was a mess for three months, THEN made my move, and then cried some more (only this time it was only for two days). It’s five years later now. I met and married an amazing guy and we have a beautiful little boy turning two next month. I like to call my story a do-over. I have no ‘what if’s, no regrets, and am happier than I ever imagined was possible. Ending a 16-year relationship was probably the hardest decision I ever made, but it was the right one.”

5Lindy, 40s

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“As someone who was blindsided by a gut-wrenching breakup after 10 years, I can remember the very day I realized my relationship was over like it was yesterday. The one specific moment was on my birthday. I had waited all day to hear from them. But nothing. No call, no email, no text message, nothing. Instead I got radio silence — that was it. I will never forget that day. In that moment, I realized what I had known for a while: We were no longer on the same page. Strangely enough, I was OK with that. Actually, I was grateful. This was the confirmation I needed. There was no more making excuses or denying the obvious — it was clearer than ever. In fact, it was crystal clear. My only option was to close that chapter and turn the page. It was painful. But, in hindsight, it was the best 45th birthday gift they could have ever given me. Despite being one of the hardest decisions I had to make, my breakup made me stronger and better than ever and brought me back in touch with myself.”

6Jesse, 30

Hannah Burton/Bustle

"He had said a lot of things that raised red flags, but he had also started therapy; after we started talking, he realized that he had a lot of unresolved issues from his family life. I’m about to begin a Ph.D. program at the University of Edinburgh, and at first, he was really supportive. He was excited that I got accepted and even talked about moving to Scotland with me. But one day, he let it slip that he didn’t want to be with someone who has a Ph.D. and said that I should get counseling to determine if it’s what I really should pursue. You. Gone. I didn’t even cry over him — I felt so empowered that I had the strength to let him go when I realized that he wasn’t good for me.”

7Clara, 35

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I knew I had to dump an ex-, ex-, ex-girlfriend when she was more in a dating-around phase and I wasn’t (I was 32 and she was 26). Of course, she didn’t tell me this — her phone would NOT stop dinging when she was in the shower and I was trying to focus on my work. I got up just to turn down the ringer and there were all kinds of messages I wish I hadn’t seen. I tried to gather up all my stuff to leave before her shower was done, but I guess it was good to dump her face-to-face. All I had to say was, ‘Sarah wants to know when you’ll be over later’ and she knew that was it.”

8Xanet, 58

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“When I was 55, I was in an open relationship with a man, but we had a very firm agreement that before he had sex with another woman, we would have a conversation first. While he told me that he was having dates with a particular woman, I found out AFTER the fact that they were having sex. Even though I loved this man, this was a huge violation of my boundary and I could no longer trust him to be honest with me or keep me safe. It also made me realize that I was not cut out for a non-monogamous relationship.”

9Anonymous, 26

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“I was with my ex for over 10 years (met him when I was 15), and we had finally moved in together, me at 25 and him at 26. Marriage had been brought up by me several times throughout the past few years, every conversation ending with him saying ‘I need more time.’ Anyway, when we ended up moving in together, I thought we were headed in that direction. The moment I realized I had to leave was when we were at the dinner table in front of a meal I had cooked — without his help — in which he took a break from playing video games from to eat (as per usual). I asked him if anything had changed on the marriage front in his mind and he said, ‘Maybe one day, but for right now, I just can’t wrap my head around it.’ Long story short, I broke up with him. A couple months later, I asked my job for a transfer to their NYC offices and now I’m living the life I always wanted.”

10Celeste, 36

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“I had supported an ex for quite some time, but he wasn’t employed and wasn’t really looking. I had been working through my own career stress with a sexist boss, and finally I found my own new job and came up for air. So, realizing it had been almost a year since my boyfriend had worked, I was like: Huh. Maybe I should have been paying attention to his work, too? LOL. I dumped him (I was 34 at the time). After I broke up with him, he immediately got a job.”

11Kateri, 37

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“When I was 35, after months of dating somebody, I knew I had to dump my partner when he was unmotivated to do things and make a change in his own life. I had seen him the night before and we had gone out to a polo match and the zoo, but I sensed something was off when we were out. The next day, I called to check up on him and asked what he was doing for the day; he was complaining that he had to still fix his car, something he had been putting off for days. As a person who is self-motivated and passionate about getting work done, I tried being loving and motivated him to get the car project complete so it wouldn’t be pushed back even further. In my quest to do this, he hung up the phone on me. I was shocked. I was just trying to help, not have him act like a child, be uncommunicative, and hang up on me!

After that, I wrote him a long email saying it was over, that he needed to find some self-love, and that I didn't deserve to be treated that way. It’s important to note that prior to that phone call/email, there were a lot of things that lead up to it, such as me finding out he had a rough past (e.g., divorce, abusive childhood, etc.) and other negative aspects that he just hadn’t taken head on all his life. As supportive as I tried to be, he needed to take the appropriate steps to find his inner strength and heal by himself. I also found out he never tried just being single before and always had a woman in his life. At the end of the day, it was for the best.”

12Kat, 29

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“My boyfriend and I had moved in together and everything went smoothly for several months. Then, one night after making dinner together, we were sitting on the couch talking and watching TV and he casually mentioned he didn’t want to have kids. I was 26 then and have wanted to be a mom practically my whole life, and this was brand new information. I couldn’t believe he just dropped this truth bomb on me so unexpectedly. Anyway, it led to a long discussion about expectations and the future and what we wanted in a marriage, and I realized how little overlap there was. Never wants to be a dad? Total dealbreaker! I knew he wasn’t ‘The One’ and we broke up shortly thereafter.”

13Sandi, 30s

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“Pre-Facebook memes, when I was 28, I was dating this really good (on paper) guy, but he was very rigid, conservative, and stuffy. I am artsy, creative, and impulsive. We were dating around November and he had a leftover Halloween pumpkin on his porch. When I asked his plan for the lone pumpkin, he said ‘Obviously, just throw it away.’ My mischievous brain suggested the following ideas: wrapping it in a diaper and leaving a note requesting that his neighbor adopt it or make it look like it was barfing pumpkin guts. He looked at me dead in the eyes and said, ‘I can’t do that — I’m actually an adult.’ Boom! I knew then and there that someone who found no humor in old pumpkins was NOT the person for me. I’ve retold that story so many times that my girlfriends and I now call it the ‘pumpkin test’ and we gauge a guy’s reaction to the ideas — if he has a fun response, he is kept, but uptight guys get canceled.”

When it comes time to break up with someone, listen to your instincts. If you know it’s time, you know, no questions asked.