Should We Break Up? 7 Signs It May Be Time To Consider It

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When things get bad in your relationship, you can either choose to stick it out or leave. While it's important to fight for a relationship you really care about, it's equally important to recognize when you're forcing things to work. If you're no longer happy but are choosing to stay, it's important to be honest with yourself about why you're really sticking around. Because if you're staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, experts say you may be better off breaking up.

"A big reason why people stay in relationships is because they're afraid of starting over," Michelle Henderson, LMHC, relationship expert and owner of Next Chapter Counseling, tells Bustle.

It's scary to think about what will happen next, especially if you've been together for a while or you're living together. It's even harder if you're married. Going through a divorce isn't easy. But as Henderson says, the fear of the unknown is not a good enough reason to stay in a relationship that's no longer working.

"It's right to stay in a relationship with someone if you're noticing steady improvement," she says. "Things may have been bad at one point in time, but if you're starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel that gives you hope, it can be worth it to stay and keep trying."

But if these are the only things keeping you together, experts say it may be in your best interest to break up.

1. You're Hopeful That Things Will Eventually Change

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It's not a bad thing to think positively and be optimistic about the future. But hoping for things to change, especially if you aren't seeing any progress, is not a good reason to stay. "The belief that the person you're with will change, can keep people stuck for a long time," Henderson says. "But if they're not ready to change now, they may never get there." The best thing to do here is to give yourself a timeline. If you don't notice any improvement in six months or a year, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.

2. You're Worried About What People Might Think

If you've spent a lot of time justifying your partner's actions to friends and family in an effort to make them look good, your pride can hold you back from ending things. "This happens a lot in social situations where one person decides to defend their partner from friends because they care about wanting them to be liked," Robyn Koenig, certified dating coach, tells Bustle. Even if you don't agree with your partner's actions, you'd rather defend your choice and make them look good instead of recognizing that your loved ones are right. It's important to remember here that it's your life. You shouldn't worry about what people think. There's no good reason to let other people's opinions hold you back.

3. You Believe Your Partner Is Your Soulmate And There's No One Else For You

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"Love truly can make us blind," Koenig says. "It's easier sometimes to wear the rose-colored glasses and ignore the red flags if something is no longer working with the person you think is 'The One.'" This tends to happen a lot when you think you've met your soulmate. It's easy to believe there's nobody else out there for you. But the truth is, people can have multiple soulmates and many times, people don't even end up with their soulmates. With enough work, you can create a soulmate-level relationship with anyone you're interested in. There are a lot of people in the world. You don't have to cling on to a relationship just because you think it's it.

4. You're Not A Quitter

People hate to give up. Nobody wants to be seen as a "failure," epecially when it comes to love and relationships. According to Amy Waterman, relationship expert and host of YourBrilliance, "Many are taught that the success of a relationship rides on their shoulders: it's their job to hold the whole thing together. And if they fail? If the relationship heads south despite their best attempts? Then they've failed." But just remember that ending a relationship isn't quitting. It's making the decision to put your needs and happiness first. As Waterman says, it's also an opportunity for you to say yes to something new.

5. You Think Being In A Relationship Is Better Than Being Alone

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There's nothing wrong with preferring to be in a relationship over being single. But if you have to force yourself to be grateful that you're even in one, that's not a good sign. According to Waterman, this "suck it up," stop complaining attitude means you're more likely to turn a blind eye to warning signs. You'll hold back on your complaints for fear of causing problems and you won't be as happy as you could be. Just wanting to be in a relationship is not worth sacrificing your happiness.

6.You've Already Gone Through So Much Together

Many people choose to stay together due to history. For instance, if you've already gone through a lot together, breaking up might make you feel like all that time an energy was wasted. But that's not a good reason to stay with someone, especially if it's the only thing keeping you together. But if you've gone through tough times together and you still love, admire, and respect each other, Waterman says those are the right reasons to stick it out.

7. You're Afraid That You Won't Make It On Your Own

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Fear can hold people back from having the things they really want in their lives. If you're afraid that you won't make it on your own, especially due to financial reasons, that's not a good reason to stay. "This is a very common reason people stay together and rationalize it being OK for a while," Koenig says. Staying with your partner may be easier on your life financially, but you have to ask yourself if that's really worth it. While it's scary at the beginning, putting yourself first and gaining your own sense of independence will make you much happier in the long run.

Making the decision to end a relationship is never easy. But everyone deserves to feel truly happy in their relationship. If you've tried all you could to make things work and nothing is changing, it's time to think about what you really want moving forward.