It's normal to go through the occasional rough patch in your relationship and still feel sure that it's a strong, healthy relationship to be in. But sometimes, you get a sense that things might not actually be OK— and that you may need to seriously reassess your relationship. And that can be a terrifying prospect. Because you know that if you start to really think about it, you might find that the relationship isn't working. And then you have to actually go through with ending it. But if it's not working for you, that's the right thing to do, no matter how hard it is. "When you reach a point that you realize they aren't "The One," be courageous and direct," marriage and family therapist Esther Boykin tells Bustle. "The old saying, 'It’s not you …' is actually a good starting point. The truth is that it's neither of you, it's the 'us' that doesn't work."
It's a tricky conversation, but one that needs to be had when you take a hard look at your relationship and find it's not the right thing for you. How do you know when you should be taking that look and seeing if the relationship is really working out? Well, there are a lot of clues. It's easy to try and ignore them— to just keep pretending the relationship is fine and convince yourself that there's no issue. But if you're honest with yourself, there are some clear signs that you need to reassess the relationship.
1. You Want Different Things From Each Other
Relationships mean a lot of different things to different people. "The biggest sign of romantic incompatibility is if you and the person you’re seeing have different expectations from the relationship," Salama Marine, psychologist, tells Bustle. Some people expect a partner who's there with them, seven nights a week, through thick and thin. Others want to live almost completely independent lives. If you're on different pages, it can cause problems.
2. You Can't Be Yourself
This is so important. "If you're in a relationship with someone and feel like you need to censor yourself, or stifle parts of who you are to make it work, that's a red flag that they may not be 'The One'," Boykin tells Bustle. You would think that it would be obvious, but I've seen plenty of people be trapped in the version of themselves they were on the first few dates, when they were desperate to impress. That's not sustainable.
3. Your Values Just Don't Line Up
Thinking long term, what are your deal-breakers? "If you are in love with someone, but you question your compatibility, you need to ask yourself what types of issues you are incompatible about," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "Are they deal-breakers, or are they minor concessions that you can live with never agreeing on?" If it's the latter, you need to do some thinking.
4. They're Not Emotionally Available
You partner needs to be open to you and willing to put in the same effort that you do. "Someone who is emotionally unavailable and seems unwilling or unable to be present with you during difficult times is unlikely to be the right one for you," Boykin says. "A healthy relationship requires you both to be able to show up emotionally for each other, especially when things are hard." If you feel like you're hitting your head against a brick wall trying to make the relationship work, then you need to give yourself a break.
5. You Were Infatuated... And Now You're Not
OK, so it's totally normal for the infatuation to wear off a bit in a realtionship. But it should be replaced by a strong, deep connection. If the infatuation wears off and there's nothing there to replace it, it can be not a very nice situation that you're trapped in. "Little things and not so little things start to bother you about this person, and many of the personality traits that drew you to this person in the first place are … the selfsame things that start to repel you," Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Grant Me a Higher Love and Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships, tells Bustle. "For example, at first you liked the expensive clothes and jewelry she wore, but then you realize that she's a spendaholic; or you liked the way he put you above his career, and then you come to realize he is lazy and just plain hates working, and he wouldn't mind one bit if you would let him quit working so that you could begin supporting him."
If you find that spark is gone and you don't like what's left, it's time to do some thinking.
6. Your Futures Don't Line Up
Sometimes, life gets in the way. If it does, you need to think seriously about what's best for both of you. "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." And it can happen with jobs, family obligations, study— sometimes, you just can't fit into each other's lives anymore without one of you making a huge sacrifice. Don't be afraid to let the relationship go.
7. Your Gut Knows Something's Wrong
Maybe none of these signs sound like you, but something still feels... off. "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. You know in your gut if something isn't right. If you're having that feeling, it's time to do some serious thinking about where it could be coming from.
It's not fun to ask yourself the tough questions about your relationship, but sometimes it's necessary. Don't be afraid to reassess your relationship, even if you don't like the outcome.