No one said relationships were easy ― even the strongest couples will inevitably hit a few bumps in the road. But your partner shouldn’t be a constant source of stress, hurt feelings or resentment.
So how do you know if your relationship has hit the point of no return? Automatic dealbreakers like abusive behavior aside, many issues can be worked through with time, commitment and help from a therapist.
But if you’ve tried and tried and things still don’t improve, or if your partner is simply unwilling to do the work, it could be time to move on.
We asked experts to share the signs that a relationship may no longer be worth fighting for. (Note that the advice below is meant to serve as general suggestions. The circumstances of each relationship are different; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.)
1. You’re being abused — physically or emotionally.
“If your spouse pushes, shoves, grabs or hits you for any reason, it’s not worth trying to change them. If this is happening on any level, get out NOW. Are they gaslighting you or being emotionally abusive? If your partner tells you that you are imagining any type of abusive behavior or that you are just ‘too sensitive,’ get out. You deserve to be treated with respect. It’s not worth fighting about.” ― Tammy Nelson, a sex therapist in New Haven, Connecticut, and author of The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity
2. You feel like you’re the only one fighting for the relationship.
“I actually don’t think it’s a good idea to be in a relationship if you feel like you are always fighting to remain in it. However, sometimes it does make sense to try very hard for a period of time to get through a rough patch and move on. If you’re always the one putting in effort and your partner shows minimal effort, that is a sign that it’s not worth fighting for. If you are embarrassed to tell people about the amount of effort you have to put into the relationship to keep it going, that is a sign that you may have exceeded an appropriate amount of effort.” ― Marie Land, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.
3. Your partner refuses to seek help for personal issues or problems within the relationship.
“It takes much caring and courage to be vulnerable enough to reach out for help. We all need it sometimes. If you’re consistently feeling miserable in the relationship and your partner is unwilling to accept help, whether it’s couples counseling or addressing an addiction that is damaging the relationship, it may be time to consider leaving.” ― John Amodeo, marriage and family therapist in San Francisco and author of Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships
4. You can’t stand kissing your partner.
“Yes, this feeling can come and go. Sometimes you like to kiss, other times you don’t even want your partner’s face anywhere near yours. But if your mouth is telling you that you really cannot stand to kiss your partner anymore and that feeling doesn’t change over time, it might be over.” ― Nelson
5. Your close friends have serious doubts about the relationship.
“Who is the person that sees your relationship most clearly? The research shows that your friends actually have more insight into the state of the relationship than you do, particularly female best friends. If they’re starting to express concerns, it can reveal underlying issues that you may not be aware of yourself.” ― Gary Lewandowski, professor of psychology at Monmouth University in New Jersey and co-creator of ScienceOfRelationships.com
6. Your partner isn’t reliable.
“I’ve been married 30 years, and here is why I have fought for my marriage during challenging times: My husband is trustworthy and reliable. A reason to leave is when the trust is irrevocably broken — by lies about money spent, adultery or repeated emotional and physical abuse. You deserve someone you can unfailingly count on. To me, reliability is the sexiest quality you can hope for — a quality that is essential in an intimate partnership, as we live in a shaky and inconsistent world.” ― Iris Krasnow, author of Surrendering to Marriage and The Secret Lives of Wives
7. You or your partner has had multiple affairs.
“Are you using infidelity as a ‘can opener’? Be fair. End your relationship now. Don’t make your partner responsible for your ambivalence.” ― Nelson
8. You’ve stopped making progress in other areas of your life because of the relationship.
“If your relationship has taken up so much emotional energy and attention that it has prevented you from moving forward with other goals such as a career, family and friendships, that’s a sign that your relationship may not be worth fighting for. Some sacrifice is fine but the cost should be minimal and not impact your progress in other areas for an extended period of time.” ― Land
9. Your partner routinely dismisses your concerns.
“It’s not an encouraging sign if your partner is unwilling or unable to hear your feelings, your hurt and pain and take it to heart. If your feelings and needs (for respect, kindness, communication) are coldly and consistently dismissed, if stonewalling and defensiveness are creating an impenetrable barrier, it may leave you feeling lonely, angry, or depressed, and maybe hopeless about the relationship.” ― Amodeo
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.