Are you in a relationship that feels like it may be over? Do you feel it’s time to move on? Almost a decade ago, I was stuck in a “relationship” which was leading to nowhere. The reason why I say “relationship” with the quotation marks is because it was like a pseudo-relationship where I was led on to think there would be something more when there never was. I thought the guy was my soulmate, but he isn’t and it took me a while before I realized that and finally moved on. While moving on was painful and took a while, I’m glad I did that because it led me to eventually meet my real soulmate, whom I’m getting married to at the end of this month.
If you’re in a relationship that seems to be going nowhere, perhaps it’s time to move on. Below are top 12 signs to know when it’s time to move on from a relationship. While written with romantic relationships in mind, these signs apply to friendships as well.
- When you live in past memories more than the present.
Do you replay the happy moments of the relationship to make you feel good about it? Do you use them as reasons to continue on with him/her? If so, it’s a sign your current relationship isn’t how you want it to be. The more we live in the past memories and/or a self-created future, the more we are living in a self-created reality. This is dangerous since it’s not reflective of the actual state of the relationship.
Remember your relationship with the person exists in the current moment. Not in the past. Past memories should remain as memories and not as a reason to stay together. Your decision on whether to stay with the person should be based on your current feelings for him/her, the actual state of the relationship and the future you see with him/her.
- When the relationship brings you more pain than joy.
Sometimes, we tend to be blinded by the past happy moments of the relationship. To the extent we forget about all the unhappiness it brings us. If your relationship leaves you frustrated/upset/unhappy more often than not; If your relationship is leaving you in tears every so often, perhaps this might not be the right person for you. The relationship you are in now should be one which brings you happiness now. Just like #1, if the main source of happiness of your relationship is from past memories, something is amiss.
- When he/she expects you to change.
The truest form of love is one that’s unconditional. Your partner shouldn’t expect you to change, unless it’s for your well-being (such as to quit smoking or to adopt a healthier diet). Some of my friends had ex-boyfriends who wanted them to change, such as to dress up more often to look prettier or to lose weight when said friend was of healthy weight. There was even one who actually suggested my friend to shave her arm and leg hair because he felt it was a given for girls!
- When you stay on, expecting he/she will change.
The above applies for the other person as much as it applies for you. If you are staying on / getting into the relationship expecting the person to change, you are in this for the wrong reason. You are trying to change the person to fit your expectations, rather than accept him/her as the individual he/she is.
Even if the person does changes, soon you will have something else you want him/her to change. You will never be fully satisfied with how he/she is. The worst thing is, if the other person isn’t conscious, he/she will keep changing just to fit your expectations. In the end, he/she will just end up being your shadow.
This happened between my ex-best friend, K, and me. While we were not in a romantic relationship, some issues we faced in our friendship are probably similar to what others face in their romantic relationships. Through our friendship, I began to see him as an extension of me, rather than as a separate individual. K did not have a very strong self-identity at the time, so unfortunately he kept changing to fit what I wanted. In the end, he became my shadow. After 10 years of friendship, we had to part ways, because it was the better path for us to grow as individuals — for him to grow into his own, and for me to grow into my own as well.
- When you keep justifying his/her actions to yourself.
Whenever we experience a situation we’re uncomfortable about, we experience cognitive dissonance. It refers to the discomfort from being faced with something that conflicts against our beliefs. When this happens, we try to come up with explanations, justifications so we can feel good about the situation.
This if we feel the need to justify an action, that means we are uncomfortable with the action itself and we want to explain away the discomfort. The danger behind this is that the explanations are self-created and may or may not be true. If you are repeatedly justifying his/her actions, the relationship becomes built on your rationalizations, rather than the reality. Likelihood is that you are living in your world of false assurances rather than the truth.
Back in 2005, I had an ambiguous relationship with a guy (the same one I mentioned in the article opening; let’s refer to him as “G”). Since he would behave in a way that was more than a friend would to a friend but yet not move the relationship forward, I would think of different reasons to justify why nothing was happening. Maybe he didn’t know what to do. Maybe he was shy. Maybe he wasn’t sure of what to do with the relationship. Maybe studies was his priority. Maybe I should take the first step.
However reality was he wasn’t taking action. Everything else was just made up in my mind to fill up the gap between this reality and my expectations. By creating all these justifications, I had unknowingly created a mental jigsaw which I had to slowly peel away in the later years.
To see reality as it is, see the actions as they are and let them speak for themselves. Actions ultimately speak louder than words.
- When he/she is causing you emotional/physical/verbal hurt.
Physical and verbal abuse are definite no-no’s. There is clearly something wrong if the other party abuses/hits/curses/swears at you, no matter how he/she tries to make up for it later. Even if it may be the spur of the moment, the fact that he/she lets slip in that moment shows there is something deep inside him/her that needs addressing.
Emotional hurt is trickier. A lot of people negate emotional hurt because it’s not visible. Ignore it, and it’s not there. But emotional hurt is hurt all the same, if not worse. The wounds that are hardest to heal are the emotional ones, not the physical ones.
- When the same situation/issue recurs even though you tried addressing it.
Once might be a coincidence. Twice, you might want to give another chance. But 3 times is a clear sign something is wrong. I finally realized nothing was coming out from the relationship between G and I after our loop played out the third time. Each time, I did what I could to make it work out, but it always stopped at the same end. It was more than enough evidence that this was the end.
Do you find yourself in replay mode in your relationship? Do you keep landing in the same situation, the same scenario, the same outcome, time and again, no matter what you do? If so, perhaps you need to accept this is the furthest the relationship can get to. You can keep pressing on, but it’s a matter of time before it sinks in that there’s nothing further to go. This is the end of the road. There is a future for you and him/her, and this relationship isn’t the route to that future.
- When he/she puts little to no effort in the relationship.
Every relationship requires effort by the duo. The same applies for familial bonds, friendships, mentorships and most definitely love. Both of you have to commit to the relationship together. If you are constantly the one putting in more effort, sooner than later it’ll drain you. You have to give more and more just to keep the relationship afloat. Unless this imbalance is addressed, it will only become bigger and bigger over time. Soon you sink your whole self into it, losing your self identity in the process.
- When your fundamental values and beliefs are different.
For any friendship or relationship to work out, there has to be certain similarity in fundamental values. Similarity in these values are the big rocks which will hold the friendship in place. Even if other things are dissimilar, the big rocks will enable the friendship to weather through even the toughest storms ahead.
On the other hand, if your core values are fundamentally different, it doesn’t matter even if everything else is the same. The journey to keep the relationship together will only become an uphill battle. It’s just like trying to hold the soil of the ground together in a heavy rain. Without the roots of the tree to hold this soil together, everything will just slip away against your best efforts.
- When the relationship holds you back, hence preventing both of you from growing as individuals.
A relationship is ultimately a third entity formed due to two individuals. Every relationship evolves based on how both parties are growing. Sometimes both parties grow at the same pace. There are times where the relationship is one of stagnancy, where both parties don’t grow. Then there are times when one outgrows the other, by a large margin.
When this happens, you have two options (i) change the dynamics of the relationship to fit this new development, or change yourself to maintain the same dynamics. It’s more important to first be true to ourselves. Determine who you are and who you want to be, then decide if this relationship is one that is compatible with you. A relationship that hinders you from growing into your own isn’t the best one for you.
- When you stay on, expecting things to get better.
This is similar to #1, except it pertains to the future. Just like how you don’t live in the past, you don’t live in the future. You can hope that the future will be better, but the fact is you live now. If the only thing that’s making you hold on is the hope of a better future, the relationship isn’t exactly built on solid grounds. The future you wish for is one of the many possibilities that can occur, a possibility that may never come to reality. It’s dangerous to base the fate of the relationship on something that might not occur. A building built on a shaky foundation will crash to an unsightly end when the foundation gives way.
- When neither of you feel the same way about each other.
Things change. People change. If the feelings are no longer there, it’s time to move on. Some of you might linger on in a relationship even though the feelings are gone. Perhaps it has become part of your routine and you don’t know what to do once you break away. Some of you continue on because the relationship still serves certain functional purposes, such as companionship.
Yet, a relationship without the mutual feelings is like a body without a heart. There’s no soul or life in it. If you no longer have feelings for the other party, staying on is doing the other person an injustice. More importantly, it’s doing you a huge injustice. It’s best for him/her and you to part ways so you can move to better places.
If the other person doesn’t have feelings for you anymore, holding on to him/her only drags out the misery. Realize that “True love doesn’t have a happy ending, because true love never ends. Letting go is one way of saying I love you.” Just because you love the person doesn’t mean you have to be with the person. True love exists outside of the physical fabric of a relationship. This is just a form of expression of love, but in no way is the single definition of love.
I’ll end off this article with a final quote:
There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life. —