When to break up and end a long term relationship

By Paisley Gilmour
11 June, 2021
When to break up and end a long term relationship

It can be hard to know when to break up with someone and when to end a long-term relationship. Maybe they cheat on you, or you cheat on them, and that's just it. But deciding to break up can also be really bloody difficult sometimes. Especially if they haven't done anything particularly awful, and it's more that you're just not 100 per cent happy. And, even after you've tried everything to make it work, you can still have that feeling of uncertainty and doubt. So how are you meant to know when to break up from a long-term relationship?

Unless your relationship is actively unhealthy, people often feel guilty for wanting to end a relationship. So, these women explain how they knew when to break up with their long-term partners. Hopefully it will give you some comfort if you're going through the same thing.


When to break up and end a long term relationship


1."I needed a partner, not a child"

"When I looked at him one day and realised I liked it better when he wasn't there, because I wasn't stressed out about his mental and physical health, something he never took personal responsibility for. I needed a partner, not a child older than me. I needed someone I was attracted to, spiritually, sexually and emotionally and I just didn't feel that way about him anymore. He's not a bad guy, he just wouldn't and couldn't get his shit together. And after 4.5 years together, I just wasn't about resigning myself to being a caretaker at 24." 

2."My needs came last"

"When we were in the home buying process and all of my home needs and wants kept being superseded by [theirs]. I negotiated for a compromise over and over but was dismissed every time. I realised my needs, both in a home and in the overall relationship, came dead last. Things unraveled from there."

3."My gut said he wasn't it"

"I had been dating a really great guy for years, and over the course of some months realised he wasn’t who I pictured growing old with, and that’s all there was to it. We got along great, but we were still pretty young and I didn’t feel in my gut like he was it — there was something missing that I couldn’t put words to, even though we had by all accounts, a healthy and happy dynamic for the most part. It made the breakup so much worse because he didn’t understand why I felt this way. I wished I could’ve pointed to something he did, or something about him that showed me things were wrong, but I couldn’t. It sucks because nobody had ever told me that sometimes there isn’t necessarily a catalyst, or a specific thing that makes you realise things aren’t right, so I felt — and still feel — really guilty that I couldn’t give him a better explanation or some sense of closure. Sometimes it’s just not right."

4."I didn't miss him when I was away"

"I think on some level I always knew. But I was still young and worried about the idea of being single, so I stuck with it. Crunch time came when I went away for the summer and basically just didn’t miss him at all. Spent a lot of time reflecting on things away from everything familiar with a group of people I became very close friends with. Broke up with him on my return. I don’t regret it as such, and I firmly believe if I’d chosen a different path (aka not being with him or breaking up sooner) certain wonderful events in my life wouldn’t have then happened the way they did. But I do kinda look back and think... wtf was I thinking, y’know?"

5."It was all too serious"

"I broke up with my first real boyfriend because he made a comment about buying me a necklace for my 18th birthday. It was a semi-expensive (but very expensive for a 16 and 19-year-old) necklace that we saw window shopping. He said he would save up and buy it for my 18th. I remember stuttering something about how he was planning to go to university the next academic year. He responded that he was going to the local university because I will be doing A levels and he 'obviously' was going to stay around for me. The realisation that he was apparently basing such big life decisions around me and was so serious, and made me feel like I was going to throw up."

6."I didn't want to be with only him for the rest of my life"

"When he told me that he only wanted to be with me for the rest of his life, and I honestly felt sick and panicky at the thought of that. We were just too incompatible to continue to work on our relationship and move forward."

7."He saw me as his adversary"

"I was having an argument with my ex (I don't even remember what it was about now) and I said, 'It's not about winning, it's about us understanding each other and working it out'. And he just looked at me in utter disbelief and said, 'Of course it's about winning!' It really hit me why we struggled so often; I saw us as a team and he saw me as his adversary."

8."I didn't want his kids"

"When I had a thought that I wouldn’t want him to be the father of my 'future children'."

9."We weren't that close"

"When I accepted I no longer enjoyed our time together enough. I liked him as a person and friend still, but we weren't close friends and we weren't compatible to be close friends. That needs to exist in a relationship IMO. I remember one week I realised I contacted my best friend far more, and wanted to see her more than I wanted to see my ex. I'm sure he felt the same."

10."He became possessive"

"When we started college and I joined a student society, and he became very possessive because he didn't like me having a social life outside of my school and family. We lasted a little under a month after that because that's how long it took me to realise he really wasn't going to have a change of heart." 

11."I met someone else"

"I had known for a while but was denying it in order to keep everyone else happy. I didn't fully believe I could do better, but met someone who was what I thought to be so far 'out of my league'. [It] made me realise that nobody is out of anyone's 'league', that it isn't even a real thing, and that I could do better for my life in so many ways. I didn't cheat on him with this better person, but this other person did in a way help me realise my own self worth." 

12."I couldn't see a future together"

"My ex wanted to marry me, and I genuinely couldn't see a future together. Anytime it was brought up, it felt like I'd swallowed a stone. We argued like a cat and a raccoon over a lot, even the minor stuff, and there were too many incompatibilities and inconsistencies between us to envision longevity. I knew if I married him, it would be like us willingly shackling ourselves to anchors. Sounds harsh, but I couldn't see either of us being happy, or even close to it down the road."

13. "The relationship drained me"

"Personally, I wasn't happy anymore. The relationship drained me (financially and emotionally) and I always felt like this wasn't my whole 'potential of feeling love' anyway."

14. "When there's more bad moments than good"

When there's more bad than good moments and you are questioning your future together. I ended a relationship I knew I should have much sooner, and it was a relief and weight lifted off my shoulders when I finally ended it." 

15. "When you're walking on eggshells"

"When you look forward to getting away from them and you are walking on eggshells around them. If you are living together and home isn't a haven its time to make a change. If they they don't make you feel good thats no good." 

16. "When the main reason I'm not ending it is inconvenience"

"When circumstantial inconveniences (such as having to move, split items, decide who gets pets, etc) feel like the main reason I’m not doing ending it, that’s when it’s time."

17. "I knew early on but continued in the relationship"

"I always knew very early on. My trouble is that I believe all relationships need some work, so I continue in the relationship. My advice is to listen to your gut feelings. If during the first one to two months you have a gut feeling it’s not right for you - leave them. Also, the small things that will bother you in the beginning of a relationship will kill you at the end. It’s better to talk and fix it right away." 

18. "I had a really bad feeling"

"He cheated on me. Went through three incidents, but the last time he was begging me back for a fourth time I told him I would get back with him if he let me go through his Facebook messages. (I was never the type to invade privacy, but hey, I had a really bad feeling.) Plethora of messages from random girls in our area, some I personally knew from his school. That's when I told myself I needed to stop wasting my time with this guy. Hooray for trust issues in my 20s." 

Credit: Cosmopolitan