In an ideal world, no one would have to suffer the pain of a break-up. Everyone would meet their match when they are ready for love, and they would proceed to be together forever.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. Heartbreak is an unavoidable part of modern dating, and not every relationship is meant to last. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing — there is a lot to be learned from every romantic experience, and just because it ends, doesn’t mean that the relationship wasn’t worthwhile.

That being said, there are many reasons why couples will feel pressure to stay and try to make it work, even when a partnership has become painful. Whatever your reason for staying in something that is no longer working, here are some signs it’s time to let go and move on to allow you both to find a happier relationship in the future.

You’re Different People Now

This is a very common experience for people in long-term relationships. Maybe you got together when you were young, and time has changed you both. Sometimes, couples grow together; other times, they grow apart. If you feel like you and your partner are completely different people who don’t share the love that you used to, it may be time to express gratitude for all the relationship brought to you, then move on with your life.

Your Needs Aren’t Being Met

Everyone has different needs in a relationship, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For example, you may need a partner who provides a lot of emotional support, or you may have a certain passion you want to share with them. If your partner isn’t meeting your needs, it’s important to talk to them about it. If they can’t fulfill those needs, it’s a clear sign that the relationship isn’t meant to be.

You’re Staying Out of Obligation

If you have been with your partner for years, you may feel that you “have to” stay in the relationship because you have put so much time into it, even if you don’t love them anymore.

The length of the relationship isn’t necessarily indicative of the success of a relationship. If both partners aren’t working on the relationship, more time isn’t going to fix anything, and you could be using that time to work on your relationship with yourself, or finding a partner who better meets your needs.

Your Partner is Emotionally Abusive

Many people stay in emotionally abusive relationships without realizing it. You may have a specific idea of what abuse is supposed to look like, and because you love and respect your partner, you can’t see their behavior for what it is. Abuse can also be much subtler than the media portrays it, particularly emotional abuse.

If you’re not sure whether or not your partner is abusive, ask yourself: are you “walking on eggshells” all the time? Do you fear being honest with your partner because of their reaction? Do you feel badly about yourself because of things your partner has said? Does your partner shut down and refuse to communicate with you? These are all indications that your partner may be emotionally abusive.

If there is still something to be salvaged in your relationship, it is possible to heal. As long as both partners are committed to prioritizing their significant other while still advocating for their needs, there is a chance breaking up isn’t inevitable. If you’re looking to improve your communication and access tools to improve the health of your relationship, contact us for couples therapy in Palatine.