When we're unhappy in our relationships, we might find a million flaws with our partners or excuses to leave when the truth is, we'd just rather be alone. The issues you attribute to your partner or relationship could just be signs you want to be single. And you don't actually need any other excuse to end a relationship, because the desire to be free is reason enough.
Some of us ignore this desire because we're scared we'll be even more unhappy single than we were coupled up. "It is interesting how you would rather be unhappy in a relationship than leave a relationship," Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, Founder of online relationship community Relationup, tells Bustle. "And often, you have to reach a high bar of unhappiness before you decide that it is better to be alone than in the relationship. Sometimes, this desire to stay is motivated by a lack of clarity about what you want and, sometimes, it is motivated by a fear of being alone."
People often try to stay in relationships while they're figuring out what they want, but they rarely get clarity this way. "This is often hard to do because you are actively involved in the relationship as you doubting it," says Milrad. That's why breaking up is sometimes the best choice even when it's heartbreaking. Here are some signs you could benefit from spending some time single.
1. You Wonder Who Else Is Out There
Even if you and your partner have something great, that nagging feeling that maybe there's someone better might mean you're not ready to settle down, says Milrad. Or maybe it's not even about whether there's someone better — you're just craving someone new. Either way, if you stay in your relationship, you'll always be wondering.
2. Small Flaws In Your Partner Make You Consider Breaking Up
If you're desperate for a relationship, you'll lower your standards and overlook a lot in order to be with someone. Conversely, if you're desperate to be single, you'll develop impossible standards and never let your partner off the hook. If it seems like your partner can do no right, that may be because nobody is right for you at the moment.
3. You And Your Partner Have Different Relationship Goals
Maybe you didn't know where you wanted the relationship to go when you got together, but now that you're coming to a crossroads, you're realizing you want different things. Perhaps they want to get more serious than you're ready for, or vice versa. This realization is a good starting point to examine what you're really looking for — and that's best done single, says Milrad.
4. You Never Sowed Your Wild Oats
Even if your partner's perfect for you, the timing may be wrong. You may feel that having romantic or sexual relationships with different people is essential to your growth, and it's OK to give up the "perfect" relationship for that, says Milrad.
5. You've Lost Yourself In Your Relationship
Even if breaking up is the last thing you want to do, it may be best if you've lost your independence. Signs of being lost in your relationship include giving up your hobbies and interests, pretending to be someone you're not, and treating your partner's problems like your own. If that sounds like you, it's "time to be alone, get grounded and rediscover yourself," says Milrad. "Most importantly, you need to learn how to be in a relationship and not abandon yourself."
Ultimately, your best bet is to pay attention to how you're feeling. "If you notice that you are stuck in confusion and dissatisfaction and you’re experiencing signs that things aren’t right for you, it can be really helpful to step back, get some perspective, and take some time to be single and figure out a few things, says Milrad." None of these signs mean you and your partner aren't compatible, and you may even find your way back to each other. If it's meant to be, some time alone could help you become surer of that.