It’s not always easy deciding if you should break up with your partner: You probably care about them and have a lot of great memories together. But there could be real issues in the relationship that make you wonder if it’s best to end things. Whatever outcome you settle on, however, it’s a good idea to first ask yourself a few questions so you can be sure it’s the right decision for you.
“Breaking up with your partner is the best thing to do if you feel like you’re not happy anymore, and the relationship is just pulling you down instead of pushing you up,” dating and relationship expert Celia Schweyer of DatingScout.com tells Bustle.
Here are some things to think about before ending your relationship, according to experts.
Is This A Pattern For Me?
Are you someone who starts thinking of breaking up with your partner a few months in each time you’re in a relationship? Do you start losing interest at about the one-year mark? Ask yourself whether this is a genuine impulse or if it’s just a pattern for you. “Is the reason I desire to break up with someone unique to this person, or would it apply to multiple people?” Clara Artschwager, a modern dating and relationships coach, tells Bustle. “If it applies to more than one person, this is often indicative of a larger limiting pattern in relationships.”
Are you scared of getting too close to someone? Are you afraid of commitment? Reflecting on these things can help with your decision.
Am I Still Happy?
“Being in a healthy relationship doesn’t mean that everything is always OK,” Schweyer says. “You will meet challenges along the way, but together, you will overcome those things and become stronger.”
However, these challenges shouldn’t cause you so much stress that the good times are no longer worth it to you, she says. Just because you are good at working through fights or support each other through difficulties doesn’t mean that you have to remain a couple. If the partnership no longer brings you joy, that might be a sign that you should go your separate ways.
Do I Like The Person I Am Around My Partner?
“The best relationships are those that invite us to be our best selves,” says Dr. Alexandra Solomon, clinical psychological and author of Taking Sexy Back. While it’s temping to focus on the other person in the relationship, you learn more by “holding up a mirror and reflecting on the degree to which you are the person you want to be in the context of your relationship.”
Solomon helps clients develop these skills and practice “Relational Self-Awareness,” which she describes as an “ongoing curious and compassionate relationship we have with ourselves that is the foundation of a happy and healthy partnership.” She suggests asking yourself, “Is this a relationship in which you can mess up, apologize, grow, and expand as a person?”
Is This What I Want Right Now?
“There will always be those times when you’ll feel like you’re getting tired of the relationship because there’s nothing new anymore,” Schweyer says. But if this is your only complaint with your partner, try to bring some new life into the relationship by testing new things together or shaking things up in bed. It also could be that you need to schedule more solo time to feel like you have space to grow as an individual within your relationship. If you still find you’d rather be single after these efforts, then maybe that’s the right choice for you
Is Something Big Going On In My Life Right Now?
When you find yourself pondering a big choice like whether or not to break up, consider if there are big challenges going on in other parts of your life that might complicate things, Artschwager says. Did you just change jobs? Was there a recent death in your family? Are you struggling in another relationship in your life? It could be that you’re projecting the stress and frustration of those concurrent issues onto your romantic relationship, she says. At the same time, if you find that your partner can’t support you with these challenges, it could be a sign that they’re not the right person for you.
Am I Just Bored?
“All relationships are constantly going through cycles of newness, excitement, stability, slow periods, and so forth,” Artschwager says. Instead of jumping ship the first time you begin to feel a little bored with your current relationship, it’s worth evaluating whether that lack of excitement is at the root of the issue and if there are ways you can shift that energy, she says.
If you think you might just be going through a bit of a lull, reignite the spark by trying some role play or pick up a new joint hobby with your partner. That might be just what you need to shake things up.
What Would I Choose If I Trusted My Gut?
A sense of ambivalence about your relationship can make the decision to break up or not feel impossible. But, “sometimes what’s blocking clarity is a lack of trust in oneself,” says Solomon. If you’re on the fence about ending things, she suggests asking yourself, “What would I choose if I had an unshakeable trust in my ability to choose?” Solomon says lack of self-trust has many causes: parents who devalued you or, particularly for women and/or BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ individuals, internalized cultural messages that threaten your inherent sense of self-worth. It may be harder for some to get in touch with their instincts, but it’s worth making that effort to dig deeper and connect with yourself.
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