15 Signs to Know When to Leave a Relationship

I wish I could sit here and tell you that relationships are just like they are in the movies.

I wish I could tell you that the honeymoon phase lasts forever, that love always wins, and that your relationship will be okay, no matter what anyone else tells you.

That would be a lie.

The reality is that most relationships fail, many relationships are living on life support, and most men have no idea when it’s time to leave.

The more uncomfortable reality is that before relationships fail, they often go through a slow, decrepit, agonizing death. Most people don’t do anything about their dying relationships until it’s too late.

Most people don’t leave until they’ve already been hurt, broken, or abused.

But you don’t have to be like most people. You can learn to leave bad relationships sooner by learning to read the signs.

These 15 relationship red flags are indications that your relationship is battling a terminal illness and that you need to leave your relationship (or do something about it).

1. Your goals don’t align anymore

Relationship goals are an essential and often underrated aspect of relationships, especially in young people.

One of the most significant flaws I had when I first started dating was that I thought I could have long-term relationships with people even though we had no common goals.

If you want to travel the world and she wants to stay at home and raise kids, you might want to discuss that.

You have to decide if you and your girlfriend are different people with different visions for your lives or if you’re trying to force something that won’t ever work.

The key is to have difficult conversations about the things you want out of life.

If you don’t, you have no reason to complain when you’re miserable and “stuck” in something you don’t want to be in.

2. Your partner can’t take care of themselves anymore

I had a friend once who just couldn’t let his girlfriend go, even after she’d let herself go.

I’m not just talking about physical attractiveness or fitness, although that was definitely part of it in the instance I’m thinking of.

What I’m talking about is attachment and codependency.

In long-term relationships, you tend to “attach” yourself to the other person. This is a ubiquitous thing in most human relationships. It’s prevalent to become attached to someone you love.

However, with this attachment, there comes an agreement. Most of us don’t agree to become attached to slobs, abusive people, or people who don’t even really like us, but it often happens because our relationships change as we have them.

Every relationship starts great, but most of them don’t last.

This is because a relationship is like an organism; for an organism to function, each part of the organism (each person) needs to pull its load.

If someone can’t pull their load anymore, you shouldn’t be pulling it for them.

3. You are living more in the past than the present

Everyone reminisces.

It’s one thing to talk about the fantastic trip you had with your partner a few years back every once in a while, but if you’re longing for the past, you might have some relationship problems that you need to work on.

Living in the past is often a sign that you believe that your best days are beyond you. The past feels safe, while the present and future feel scary and dangerous.

When this happens in your life, you must make an effort to live in the present.

Why would a relationship be any different?

4. You don’t want to spend time with them anymore

One of the requirements for dating someone is that you have to spend time with them.

A lot of time with them.

This sounds obvious, but most people don’t internalize it.

If you hate spending time with your partner, that’s the biggest sign that you should consider spending less time with them.

That’s a sign you should leave the relationship.

5. You’re looking for someone else to meet your needs

This is more complicated than cheating.

While physical cheating is a sign that a relationship is struggling, other forms of infidelity will damage your relationship.

One example is emotional cheating, where you start to seek love and support from someone who isn’t your partner.

While the “emotional affair” isn’t usually thought to have the same impact on people’s relationships, these non-physical affairs can often be the nail in the coffin for struggling relationships and marriages.

Suppose you find that you or your partner are cheating on each other physically or emotionally. In that case, it’s time to take a serious look at your relationship and see if it’s something that can be repaired.

Be sure to think carefully about this.

6. Your problems are based on who you are, not what you’re going through

Every relationship has issues, and having “disagreements” with your partner is entirely normal.

This is going to happen to pretty much all of us.

To learn from the conflict that you have with your partner, you should look at what’s causing the problems.

Is the argument last night really about one of you forgetting to clean the kitchen, or is it about how one of you doesn’t take care of yourself?

Are you fighting because you’re both overworked and overstressed, or is it because you’re both people who are unable to manage your anxiety when you’re around each other?

Answering these questions honestly will change the way that you approach your relationships.

When the fighting escalates to verbal abuse, or something worse, this is a clear sign that you need to address the problems in your relationship deeply.

7. Your life is falling apart

So far, we’ve talked a lot about your partner’s problems that are ruining your relationship, but let’s look at you for a second.

How are you doing?

If you’re having a hard time in your life (you don’t have a job, don’t have friends, etc.), it’s going to be very easy for you to feel stressed out and angry.

This is going to make it very difficult for you to be a partner who is worth loving and spending time with.

When your life is falling apart, you must take the time to set your house in order before you take your partner’s life down with you in a sinking ship.

It’s hard to have a healthy relationship when you are not healthy or happy.

There’s nothing wrong with lightening the load on your life when you’re struggling. What is wrong is using the person you love as a lifeline because you’re scared of being alone.

8. You don’t like the person your partner loves

One common mistake men make when they fall in love with new people is changing themselves to fit the desires of their possible partners.

This is very common in young people and people who are insecure and inexperienced in relationships.

Sometimes, the changes are small or even “good for you”.

Maybe your partner forces you to eat healthier, work harder on yourself, or spend more time focusing on balancing work and life. That’s one thing, but if you find yourself changing into someone who you can’t stand in order to make your partner “feel better”, that’s a sign that you may be in a relationship that is dying.

When you feel that you have to behave in a way that kills you to make someone love you, it might be time to leave the relationship.

9. You don’t see a future with them

The biggest relationship killer is the feeling that your future with someone doesn’t exist anymore.

Serious relationships are built on enjoying the present and building toward the future, and when you no longer see yourself with someone for a long term, it’s really difficult to justify staying with them.

Nonetheless, a lot of people fight this feeling. We justify staying in relationships that are “dead-end” usually because we’re afraid of being alone.

You don’t have to stay with someone forever, but if you find yourself chasing a future with a partner who you don’t see a future with, you are better off leaving the relationship.

10. The people closest to you don’t like your partner

Not everyone gets along with everyone, but your friends’ and family members’ opinion of your partner is a lot more important than people like to admit.

Imagine yourself in 10 years.

Do you want to be married with children to someone who your parents can’t stand? Do you want to spend the prime of your relationship unable to go out with other couples because you’re dating someone who all your friends can’t stand?

If you’re close to your family, the answer is probably not.

At the very least, you need to understand why people don’t like your partner. This is important, and most people in dying relationships ignore this red flag.

11. You don’t trust them

Good relationships are built on trust and communication.

When you lose trust, you lose everything.

Relationships have “rules,” like “we won’t see other people” or “we will promise to spend time with each other.” When you don’t trust someone to follow the rules, it’s hard to justify putting effort into the relationship.

Trust is a fundamental aspect of all human relationships.

Trust is why we order things from strangers on the internet. Trust is why we allow someone we don’t know to make our food at a restaurant.

If you can’t trust your partner, you can’t stay in a relationship with them.

12. You don’t communicate with each other

Regular communication patterns are an essential part of building trust in relationships.

When you first start seeing someone, it’s common to text each other all time, call each other every night, or see each other at a specific time every week.

As your relationship evolves and your lives change, so does the nature of this communication. 

Maybe a daily call becomes a call a few times per week. Perhaps you don’t hang out on Thursdays anymore because you have a new job.

This is normal. What isn’t normal is when you or they break communication entirely.

This is anxiety-inducing even for the most stable and level-headed of us. Relationships are a central part of our lives, so when we suddenly feel like we aren’t being seen and heard in them, this causes us a great deal of uncomfortable stress.

Usually, a lack of communication in a relationship has a central cause. You and your partner have to work together to identify why your communication is lacking and make efforts to improve it.

If you don’t want to do this, or you try, and your partner refuses to have difficult conversations with you, it might be time to leave the relationship.

13. You don’t have a physical connection anymore

Sex and physical chemistry aren’t everything, but if you and your partner lose all sexual interest in each other, this is a problem.

It’s a lie to say it isn’t.

That said, the longer you date someone, you will undergo changes and iterations in your sex life.

It’s not unheard of in a healthy relationship for sex to fall onto the back burner when life gets crazy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go through life and never address the problem of a decaying physical.

Unless you want to end up in a “sexless marriage,” you have to do something about this lack of physical connection.

Like many other issues on this list, you can do something about your lack of physical connection, like spicing things up in the bedroom or even seeing a sex therapist.

If you and your partner don’t want to do this, this might be when to leave a relationship.

14. She doesn’t have many friends (or you don’t like them)

In the same way that it’s probably not great if your partner can’t stand your girlfriend’s friends, it’s also problematic if you can’t stand the people she associates with.

Similarly, if someone you’re dating doesn’t have much of a social network besides you, it’s essential to know that, more than likely, you will end up picking up the slack for them.

If your partner struggles socially, this is a red flag.

If their lack of social life makes you feel strung out and exhausted, you may want to think about finding someone else to date.

15. You don’t know the difference between a healthy relationship and a toxic relationship

In my early twenties, I had a terrible, abusive relationship that made me feel lost, strung out, and depressed.

I had to dig deep to find a way out of this relationship, and when I did, I realized that I didn’t know the difference between a “good” romantic relationship and a bad one.

At first, I wanted to go back and shake my younger self for all his mistakes, but this wasn’t the key for me to identify a better future and better relationships.

I had to leave my bad relationship, forgive myself for my mistakes, and go back to the drawing board to learn what healthy relationships looked like.

If you can’t sit down and tell someone the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship, this is when you should leave a relationship.


Identifying these patterns in their relationships is not a problem for many men. It’s easy to recognize when you feel lost and unloved.

It isn’t healthy to feel these things and do nothing about them.

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