Although arguing with your partner is normal, fighting every day in a relationship or fighting over certain topics — like your values — shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, experts say there are some common relationship fights that mean you should probably break up with your partner.
As psychotherapist Cherrelle N. “Juice” Shorter, LCSW-S points, out, research by Dr. John Gottman found that 69% of conflict experienced in relationships is never-ending. “There are just some things coupled partners are not going to agree on,” Shorter says. “While this may sound like an omen to some, many have found comfort in this as they realize that conflict is not unique to their relationships. When handled correctly, conflict can lend itself to mutual understanding, compassion, and can promote an overall sense of unison or ‘togetherness’ in relationships.”
While fighting with your partner is only natural, how you fight, how often you fight, and what you fight about can make a huge difference between a lasting relationship and one that will eventually fail. According to Shorter, many couples struggle with knowing how to deal with conflict in a productive way, which leads to frequent tiffs over the same issues.
“This revolving door of conflict, contributes to either one or both parties feeling unheard and if that persists long enough, can result in a break up or at the very least, general dissatisfaction with their partner and the relationship,” Shorter says.
If you are fighting with your partner a lot about important things — like fidelity, money, marriage, life goals, jealously, and the like — now might be the right time to examine whether the relationship is truly working. If a fight is ensuing over any of these 14 reasons, it might mean you should consider breaking up, according to experts.
1. When One Partner Is Regularly Dishonest
Of course, there will be white lies here and there (e.g., “That new haircut looks great, babe”), but for the most part, couples should strive to be honest with one another. If you and your partner are regularly fighting because one of you is dishonest when it comes to the big things — like where you spent the night — signs could be pointing towards a breakup.
"Relationships thrive when there is cooperation, and a mutual exchange of curiosity and admiration," relationship coach Sara Russell tells Bustle. "If someone is acting unilaterally, and so focused on themselves that they can’t also take into account your experience and feelings, you may consider why you are in the relationship, and if staying is worth it."
2. When You & Your Partner Want Different Things From The Relationship
When you and your partner find you’re constantly fighting about your future, it’s time to take a closer look at whether you’re with the right person. "It is inevitable that couples will argue and disagree, neither of which is necessarily cause for breaking up," licensed psychologist Chloe Greenbaum, Ph.D., tells Bustle. "However, two individuals should rethink their relationship if they find themselves arguing about fundamental, irreconcilable, and unchangeable differences in the values they hold important, which may include themes such as monogamy and the desire to have children."
3. When You Feel As Though Your Values Are Being Compromised
When fights start to pop up because you feel your values are being compromised in your relationship, this is a red flag. As Samantha Daniels, dating expert and founder of Samantha’s Table Matchmaking, tells Bustle, "No two people need to be carbon copies of each other and it’s certainly OK to differ on your opinion about certain subjects, but if you can’t find any common ground on your values regarding things like child-rearing, trust, loyalty, and family, the relationship will have a hard time lasting." If you start to feel that you’re doing all of the compromising, and your partner isn’t meeting you halfway, this could lead to resentment.
4. When One Of You Has Jealousy Or Control Issues
Jealously has a bad connotation for a reason — it can play against a relationship in a major way. Fights due to jealously can tear a relationship apart and may even lead to controlling behavior. As David Simonsen, Ph.D., licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, "If you're in a relationship where you are constantly fighting about feeling controlled, you shouldn’t be together long-term. It usually means your partner doesn’t feel confident about themselves and needs to control you to feel better about themselves."
5. When Your Goals For The Future Don't Align At All
When two people have hopes and aspirations that differ, it’s difficult for a relationship to overcome it, particularly when it starts causing huge arguments relevant to the topic. For instance, money tends to be a source of problems for many couples. If one partner wants to save money for a future with kids and a nice house, but the other wants to spend it on traveling or material items, it's going to cause problems. "If you find yourself consistently being questioned on how you spend money, this is a relationship to get out of," Simonsen says. "You need to find someone that you are financially compatible with. If not, there will be constant fights and hurt in the relationship."
6. When One Of You Isn't Committed With Your Time
Are you and your partner fighting a lot over the fact that friends, work, and hobbies take priority over spending time together? If so, the relationship may not last. As Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and relationship expert, tells Bustle, “Relationships take time and commitment, and just saying you're committed doesn't cut it. You have to walk the walk and talk the talk." If your partner wants to spend their time working extra hours or going out with friends over you, they may not be as serious about the relationship as you are.
7. When You Say Things That Are Mean Or Extremely Hurtful
Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes you really can't help what you say in the heat of the moment. But as a Cheryl Muir, dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle, sure signs of an unhealthy conflict are when one or both parties inflict damage, create a deliberate lack of safety, or make comments that threaten the stability of the relationship. In short, during fights you say and do things you know will hurt your partner deeply. "At best, this shows there is deep inner work to be done, if this person is willing," Muir says. "At worst, this is a sign you’re in an unhealthy connection."
8. When Your Partner Blames You For Everything
If your fights stem from being consistently ignored, belittled, disregarded, or criticized, it may mean the end of your relationship. "Partners who repeatedly blame the other person, while refusing to take any responsibility for their own actions, are not safe," Jana Edwards, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in treating couples, tells Bustle. This includes people who insist on being the victim in the relationship, instead of taking responsibility or clearly stating what they want. According to her, "Safe relationships don't require mind-reading. They require a willingness to have conflicts that adhere to safety rules."
9. When One Of You Can’t Keep Your Eyes From Wandering
If you and your partner are fighting a lot over one of you having a wandering eye, you might want to reevaluate the relationship. As Christie Tcharkhoutian, Ed.D., licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, "It isn't likely that a relationship will last if a partner consistently betrays the relationship, either through emotional or physical infidelity, without remorse or working with a therapist to stop these behaviors."
10. When One Or Both Of You Isn’t Happy
When you’re fighting with your partner every day, you may even forget the real issue. As Edie Weinstein, a licensed social worker who specializes in helping couples, tells Bustle, "People are not generally angry for the reasons they think they are. Fights about money, sex, housekeeping responsibilities, or raising children often have their roots in either or both feeling unheard, unseen, and unappreciated." If feeling under-appreciated or unseen in your relationship is making you feel unhappy, it's important to talk to your partner about it. If nothing changes, then it may be time to consider breaking up.
11. When Your Lifestyles Are Incompatible
Differences make a relationship interesting. But if your differences are causing a lot of tension in the relationship, it may be a sign that you and your partner are incompatible. As Lisa Concepcion, relationship coach and founder of LoveQuest Coaching, tells Bustle, constantly fighting over your lifestyles might mean that you should probably break up.
For instance, if you tell your partner that you need to be in bed by a reasonable time every week night and they respond by arguing, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate your relationship. Although it may seem like a simple issue, Concepcion says it could be indicative of something more.
“If one person wants to party until two in the morning on a Wednesday night while the other person is in bed at 10, they are obviously in different seasons of their lives,” Concepcion says. When you and your partner have incompatible lifestyles, someone may have to change, and it definitely won’t be easy. If neither partner is willing to compromise, you may be better off breaking up.
12. You’re Fighting With Your Partner Over Small Things Vs. Letting Anything Go
In relationships, disagreements are inevitable. But according to Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author, fighting is always a choice. “No two people will ever agree on everything, no matter how much they love each other,” she says. “How they handle those disagreements will determine the health and success of the relationship.”
It’s always important to be upfront with your partner if you have any major concerns in the relationship. But you don’t have to turn every little issue into a big argument. If this is something that happens regularly in your relationship, it may not be the right one for you.
“Giving yourself permission to act any way you want, regardless of the harm to your partner and relationship, is common but, ultimately, destructive,” Doares says. “Anger is always about you. You choose it. You control it.” If you’re always angry at your partner because you have resentment over a big issue that has yet to be resolved, either find a work to work through it together or end the relationship. Keeping things the way they are won’t be healthy for either of you.
13. One Partner Keeps Threatening To End The Relationship
If your fights regularly include name calling, cursing, low blows, or attacks on each other’s character, you may be on the brink of breaking up. Although some people say things they don’t mean in the heat of moment, threatening to end a relationship can be unkind and manipulative.
According to India Simms, licensed marriage and family therapist, you can disagree without bringing one another down. “Frequent arguments can be healthy as long as you are able to find resolution,” Simms says. “If you're in a relationship and your arguments tend to hit below the belt this could be a sign to break up.”
14. It’s The Same Fight Over & Over
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “My partner and I fight a lot over the same old things,” and nothing has ever changed, it could mean things are moving towards the end. According to Daniels, the key ingredient in any relationship is the ability and the willingness to work through issues. "If your partner is not interested in trying to work things out and turns a deaf ear to your concerns and upsets, this is a relationship that will not sustain the test of time and one you should leave," she says.
Sara Russell, relationship coach
Cheryl Muir, dating and relationship coach
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and relationship expert
Lisa Concepcion, relationship coach and founder of LoveQuest Coaching
Cherrelle N. “Juice” Shorter, LCSW-S, psychotherapist
David Simonsen Ph.D., licensed marriage and family therapist
Jana Edwards, licensed clinical social worker who specializes in treating couples
Chloe Greenbaum, Ph.D., licensed psychologist
Edie Weinstein, licensed social worker
Christie Tcharkhoutian, Ed.D., licensed marriage and family therapist
Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author
India Simms, licensed marriage and family therapist, owner of The Haven Center for Therapy & Wellness, LLC
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