In many ways, the first year of your relationship should be viewed as a trial run. While some couples fall head-over-heels right away and know they want to be together, the rest of us need time to test the waters. And that's totally OK. If you tune into yourself, and pay attention to how you feel throughout those first months, you might decide the relationship is a great one. Or, after some careful evaluation, you might have a few
thoughts that might mean you should breakup with your partner.
If the latter ends up being true, take it as a good thing. "There's no point in delaying the inevitable,"
licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Racine Henry, PhD, LMFT tells Bustle. If you discover a few differences you just can't fix, or simply decide you don't want to be with them, it may be smart to be upfront with your feelings, and move on sooner rather than later.
Be sure, however, that you don't hit the road
too early. "If you've been single for a while or if you're hesitant because the relationship is new and going well, these thoughts could just be your method of self-sabotage in order to avoid the unknown," Henry says. If you've struggled to commit in the past — despite wanting to be in a relationship — be aware of this tendency and give yourself time to adjust. Many relationship problems and uncertainties can be worked on, and will pass with time. But if things don't feel right, or you spot a deal breaker or two, remember it's always OK to move on. Here are a few doubts experts say may mean it's time to move on.
"I Really Can't Imagine Our Future Together"
If you're happy in your relationship, and can see things moving forward, you'll be able to
envision your future together as a couple — or at least feel excited about what it might hold. But if you aren't, you might catch yourself daydreaming about what's to come, without considering your partner.
As Caitlin Bergstein, a matchmaker at
Three Day Rule tells Bustle, "If, for example, you got offered your dream job in a different state, would you consult [your partner] before accepting it? If you and your partner are on totally different pages regarding future plans and you could see yourself moving forward with yours without them, it may be time to end the relationship."
"I Hope They're Able To Change That Bad Habit"
Going into a relationship expecting your partner to change is
never a good idea. So, if certain trait or habit truly bothers you — like, maybe your values don't align — getting out early may be the smart thing to do.
"Things that are red flags in the beginning won't change without effort,"
life coach Mitzi Bockmann tells Bustle. "So if you see a red flag speak up. If you and your [partner] can resolve it then great!" If not, and it seems to be a dealbreaker to you, it may be time to move on.
"I Wish I Had More Freedom"
If you're craving more freedom within the first year, one of two things might be going on. Either
you're not ready for a relationship, and need to be single for a while or you may feel like your partner is holding you back.
"As human beings, we are constantly evolving and ideally growing," health and
wellness coach Caleb Backe tells Bustle. "If you feel that your partner is inhibiting or stunting your growth, aspirations, dreams or desires, then it might mean that you should break up."
Or, it could simply be a sign you need to talk. It's possible your significant other is unaware they're making you feel this way, and they might be perfectly happy to give you more space.
"I Wonder If The Sex Will Ever Get Better..."
If your sex life isn't great from the get-go,
it can be worked on. But, according to experts, a lack of chemistry only gets worse with time — especially since the early days of a relationship are when things are often the most exciting.
Lack of chemistry can lead to other problems down the road, too. "Chemistry is a necessary precursor to deep attachment,"
NYC-based psychotherapist Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW tells Bustle. "Intimate contact and words of endearment can facilitate the sort of emotional closeness that fosters vulnerability and create sustaining bonds. Without sexual passion and courtship a deep abiding romantic love cannot evolve." So if you feel like you're missing the spark from the beginning, it may be time to reconsider things.
"Why Do I Feel Bored All The Time?"
Relationships can't be thrilling 100 percent of the time. But that doesn't mean it's normal to feel bored or disinterested in what your partner has to say, especially in the early days when there's still so many things to talk about.
"Boredom and malaise with your partner are clear indicators that curiosity is lacking and minds are not meeting," says Heller. "Pervasive dullness and lack of inquisitiveness may be due to intellectual incompatibility." And, while you can certainly work on learning and growing together, a true mismatch in this area is not guaranteed to go away.
"This Person Is Annoying"
If you have doubts about your relationship, for whatever reason, your mind may start picking up on the ways your partner annoys you, almost as a way to justify your subconscious desire to leave.
"What may have been endearing or appealing before, now becomes annoying or displeasing," says Henry. "If you find that you get irritable or easily agitated by your partner just being themselves, it may be better to just end the relationship. Your partner can't change who they are simply because you've decided you're no longer attracted to them. Their qualities haven't changed since you met them, you may just be looking for and excuse to justify your feelings."
"Hmm, I Wonder If My Ex Is Still Single"
It's OK to occasionally wonder about your ex and look into how they're doing. It's even OK to reach out and say hey, especially if you've both moved on and
can do so platonically. What's not as OK? Wondering if they're still single when you're in a different relationship.
"If you find yourself reaching out to exes or openly flirting with strangers in public, that may be a sign that you need to walk away from your relationship," says Henry. "It's normal to think about 'what if' from time to time or even peruse an old flame's Instagram account, but when you start sending random text messages or looking forward to a post from an ex, you've crossed a boundary into disrespecting your relationship and your partner. "
"I Wonder If I Have To Invite My Partner?"
If you are satisfied with your relationship, you'd want your partner to be a part of your life, in as many ways as possible. So take note if you prefer to go out solo.
"When you get invitations to events or see a concert or movie that you may want to go to and don't consider including your partner, you may be no longer interested in that person," Henry says. "I'm a big advocate for being an individual in a relationship but if you're purposely not spending time with them because you don't want their company, that's a sign that you've checked out of the relationship."
"Are They Cheating On Me?"
"If you think your partner is unfaithful or you don’t think they’re loyal, it’s a definite sign to end the relationship early," Bergstein says. Depending on what's happened to you in past relationships, you might catch yourself feeling nervous, or wondering if your new significant other is cheating — even if they aren't. But if your new partner
doesn't give you any reason to trust them or feel secure in the relationship, that may not be a healthy situation for you to stay in.
"I Can't Believe They Just Said That"
While you certainly don't have to have identical beliefs, it's important to be with someone who, at the very least, shares your basic core values. So if you find yourself staring at them in wide-eyed surprise more often than not, take it as a sign.
"If you and your partner, from early on, can’t have a conversation about your values without disagreeing, the relationship most likely won’t last," says Bergstein. If you find you're disagreeing on certain values that are dealbreakers to you, it may be time to reconsider the relationship.
"Why Are They So Controlling?"
Your partner having a healthy curiosity about your day, and wanting to learn more about your life is completely normal. But if they need to know where you are and who you're with at all times,
this is unhealthy, controlling behavior.
"If your partner makes all decisions in your relationship, such as where you go on dates, how you dress, whom you can and can’t talk to, chances are
they may become abusive or isolate you from others," Patrice N. Douglas, an associate marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. That is a toxic situation, and something you want to get far away from ASAP. But if you're finding it challenging to leave, speaking with a loved one or therapist can help empower you to move forward from this unhealthy situation.
When things aren't working out during the first year, they aren't likely to get any better. So if your relationship doesn't feel right, or you're noticing a few red flags, it might just be better to move forward now, and save yourself the stress.