15 Valid Reasons To Break Up With Someone

Here's how to tell whether a split is on the horizon.

Originally Published: 
15 reasons for breaking up with someone you love.
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When you think of a relationship ending, you probably picture a dramatic fight, cheating, or two people who just can't stand the sight of each other anymore. And while that can happen, there are also plenty of reasons to break up with someone that aren’t so straightforward.

First things first: It’s important to remember that you don’t always need a clear rationale for ending a partnership, says sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D. Simply not wanting to be in the relationship can be reason enough to call it quits, she tells Bustle — there’s no such thing as a “right” reason to initiate a breakup.

This can be especially hard to accept in a society that preaches the idea that love trumps all, when in reality, there are also reasons to end a relationship that you still enjoy, adds relationship expert Justin Lavelle. “Financial stability, honesty, communication, and similar relationship goals are all needed if you want a successful and fulfilling relationship,” he says. “If you do not have the basics, it may be time to re-evaluate your wants and needs and discuss the next course of action with your partner, whether it be a compromise or termination.”

If you’re trying to determine if there’s a split on your horizon, experts are here to help. Below, they share 15 valid reasons to break up.


You Can't Count On Them

It can be difficult to be in a relationship with a partner who is a total flake, no matter how much you love them. And having an unreliable partner is fair grounds for a breakup, says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it Out Together. It doesn’t matter if you’re madly in love, she says — if you can’t count on your significant other, then you don’t have a strong foundation on which to build your future together.


You Realize That You Need To Be Single Right Now

Not all relationships end because something bad happened: There are reasons to break up with someone you love, too. For instance, if you realize that you're leaning too much on this relationship (or on your relationships in general), it may mean you need to take a step back and learn how to be alone, says Dawn Michael, Ph.D., a relationship expert and author of My Husband Won’t Have Sex With Me.

Plus, a fear of being single is no reason to stay in a relationship that you’d otherwise end, she adds. So if you find yourself prolonging your partnership just because you don’t want to be alone, you may want to break it off until you can be in a relationship for the right reasons.


You're Losing Track Of Who You Are

It’s possible to get lost in your relationship and turn you into someone you don't like. Life coach Kali Rogers’s advice? Break up with your partner if you don’t feel like yourself with them, she says.

If you’re having trouble understanding whether or not you’re acting like yourself, psychologist and breakup coach Joy Harden Bradford recommends checking in with your family and friends. “If you find yourself unrecognizable to yourself and loved ones, it may be a sign you should break up with your partner,” he tells Bustle. “We all change in some ways in relationships, but the changes shouldn't be so drastic that there is little to no trace of the person you were before.”


You Can't Let Go Of How They Hurt You

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It's an infuriating truth that if someone hurts you and apologizes, there can be this weird pressure on you to forgive them, even though they were the one in the wrong. But it's not always that easy. “If someone you are dating has betrayed you in a way that you cannot get past — cheating, lying, addiction — then it is time to end the relationship for your own emotional health,” says Lori Bizzoco, executive editor and founder of Cupid's Pulse. If you can't let go of that hurt — even if they make you feel like you should — then you're totally in the right to move along.


The Fights Are Going Nowhere

If the same issue rears its ugly head again and again, that’s a sign. “You should break up with someone if you continue to have the same arguments and your partner refuses to support satisfying your needs,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, a family and relationship psychotherapist. “A healthy relationship requires two willing participates who want to please each other’s wants and needs.”

If you're not moving past a big issue — or if your partner refuses to budge — you don't need to stay in a relationship that isn't going anywhere.


You're Always "Going Through A Rough Patch"

Do you find yourself saying that you and your partner are “going through a rough patch” more often than you’d like? While some conflict is normal, too much of it could be a sign that your relationship isn’t working, says couples therapist Jim Seibold, Ph.D. “Ultimately, if you are not compatible, the relationship will crumble,” he tells Bustle. “Instead of trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole, look for a better fit. The longer a bad relationship goes on, the more pain you will experience.”


You Realize You Need To Deal With Your Baggage

If you can’t stop projecting issues from your last relationship onto your current one, you might need to take a step back, says Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and the owner of Exclusive Matchmaking. Whether you’re not over your ex or you still haven’t recovered from previous relationship trauma, taking a timeout to clear your head and heal may be what’s best for you in the long run.


The Relationship Is Doing More Harm Than Good


There are times when you just know that the balance is off. If you’ve got that nagging feeling in the back of your head, O’Reilly suggests making a list of all the reasons you want to stay with your partner. If the negatives outweigh the positives, then you’ve got your answer, says psychologist Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., author of The Reality of Relationships.

And if there are plenty of things you like about your relationship, but some permutation of “We’ve been together for so long!” ranks above your love and admiration for one another, then you should still reconsider the relationship, adds O’Reilly. “A relationship isn’t like a car,” she tells Bustle. “You don’t have to keep it because you’ve already made such a heavy investment into it.”


It Just Doesn't Feel Right

Even if nothing is technically wrong, you can sometimes sense that the relationship isn't working. If you get that feeling, explore it, says Marina Sbrochi, author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life. “If you are even thinking this question, I would say that is red flag number one,” she tells Bustle.

There are plenty of good reasons to break up with someone, and many of them exist even if you’re still madly in love with the person. If your gut tells that this isn’t the relationship for you — even if there’s nothing “bad” to point your finger at — that’s reason enough to call it a day, says O’Reilly.


One Of You Wants To Work On The Relationship And The Other Doesn’t

If only one member of your couple is willing to put in effort, then it’s time to question whether you’ll ever be fulfilled in this relationship, says O’Reilly. Everyone has needs, and a healthy relationship requires both partners to communicate and address each other’s needs to the best of their abilities. But if only one of you is willing to do that work, that’s a signal that this relationship may not be the best fit.


They Make You Feel Less Than

It’s normal to feel nervous when you start dating someone. But if your partner puts insecurities into your head that weren’t there before, then it’s time to say goodbye, says licensed clinical professional counselor Nawal Alomari. Whether they make you feel like your interests are silly or scoff at your goals, anyone who makes you doubt your value is a no-go, she says.


You No Longer Recall Happy Memories Fondly

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If you find it hard to conjure up good memories with your partner, that’s another bad sign. “Has the cute story about how you met lost its luster to the point that you find it annoying?” asks O’Reilly. “Are formerly happy memories of your first vacation as a couple overshadowed by frustrating thoughts about your partner?”

If that’s the case, it’s high time to reexamine your feelings about your relationship, she says. Though it’s not a surefire sign that you need to break up, she says it’s a good reminder to take a temperature check on how you’re feeling about your partner and whether or not you want to put in the effort to make this relationship work.


You Don’t See Your Partner In Your Future

When you see yourself in the future, is your partner standing by your side? The answer to this question can be telling, says O’Reilly. “Whether you’re planning for your best friend’s wedding next spring or a family trip over the summer, if you’re indifferent toward your partner’s presence and participation in meaningful events, you might want to reassess the role they play in your life,” she tells Bustle. If you don’t see them in the picture, it’s probably time to have a conversation about where your relationship is headed.


You’re Sexually Incompatible

It’s OK if your partner has a different sex drive or interests than you. But it’s crucial that both of you are willing to try and find a middle ground to meet one another’s needs, says O’Reilly. “Sexual compatibility is not a matter of sameness, but a matter of effort,” she explains. “If one or both of you seems unwilling to try to cultivate compatibility, it may be time to reconsider your commitment to the relationship.”


You Don’t Want To Be Monogamous

Your preferences for certain relationship arrangements can change, says O’Reilly — for example, you might be interested in transitioning from a monogamous relationship to ethical non-monogamy. Sometimes there’s room for multiple relationship styles within a partnership. “For some people, monogamy is something they do. For others, being monogamous is part of their identity,” she explains. “If you see that as a core piece of your identity, that means you only want to be with one person at a time, but the person you’re with doesn’t have to align with your identity.”

Other times, though, you may indeed want your partner to align with your relationship style. If you’re on different pages, O’Reilly says you may want to reconsider your compatibility so that you don’t impose a specific relationship arrangement onto your significant other.


Nawal Alomari, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor and life coach based in Chicago

Justin Lavelle, relationship expert and chief communications officer for BeenVerified

Nicole Martinez, psychologist and author of eight books, including The Reality of Relationships

Dawn Michael, Ph.D., a relationship expert and author of My Husband Wont Have Sex With Me

Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D., sexologist and ambassador for sexual wellness and sex toy brands We-Vibe, Womanizer, and Arcwave

Kali Rogers, life coach

Marina Sbrochi, IPPY award-winning author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life

Jim Seibold, Ph.D., couples therapist

Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together

Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and the owner of Exclusive Matchmaking

Fran Walfish, PsyD, family and relationship psychotherapist

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