How to Know When to End a Relationship

For many different reasons, relationships end. Regardless of the time and effort spent to make the relationship continue, one or both people remain unhappy. Along the way, one or both people observe signs that the end is near.

Growing Irritations

Whether it be a friendship or an intimate relationship, each person involved understands that the other has imperfections that are commonly accepted or overlooked. Over time, these minor irritations fester and become harder to ignore. At some point, the unpleasant personality traits or behaviors of another person become intolerable. The balance then shifts as good times take a backseat and occur less frequently than the situations that cause disappointment, hurt or anger.

Unacceptable New Revelations

People often hide an aspect of themselves or their past for fear of rejection. However, when these circumstances that could affect the future come to light, the revelation may cause destruction. Misrepresenting themselves, not disclosing a communicable disease, failure to mention a former criminal act or an association with people having questionable characters are all examples of situations that may cause the other person in the relationship to feel betrayed.

Differences in Expectations or Needs

People often come together after discovering mutual interests. As the relationship progresses, the individuals may find that they differ in terms of future goals, motivation levels, approaches to handling money, where to live or whether to have a family. Through communication, cooperation and compromise, couples may resolve conflicts. However, when one or both individuals refuse to compromise, the subject may become an obstacle and cause resentment that can bring unhappiness to both.

Changes in Perspective

Behaviors or traits initially viewed as commendable may in time become a disappointment. The motivated, hard-working traits of a successful person are often initially praise-worthy until that person spends less than the desired amount of time with a friend or significant other. Someone viewed as physically attractive can just as easily become someone who is considered self-absorbed or high maintenance.

Life Stress

Regardless of how people vow to support each other in times of crisis, when events actually occur, the stress may lead to relationship collapse. Financial devastation, the loss of a loved one, catastrophic illness or other continual stressors may cause arguments. One person may feel overly taxed in terms of providing support. They may begin feeling that the other is inadequate. Rather than helping each other through the stress, they participate in a fault-finding mission that leads to disappointment, hurt and separation.

Familiarity and Boredom

When relationships last for decades, the people involved may become so familiar with each other that they become bored. They fail to grow individually and may take advantage of each other. Or, one person may continue growing and reinventing themselves personally while the other remains unchanged. They then may feel trapped and feel the need to move forward.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "How to Know When to End a Relationship," in PsychologyDictionary.org, February 9, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/how-to-know-when-to-end-a-relationship/ (accessed March 19, 2019).
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