Knowing when to break up with someone you love can be difficult. It is natural to occasionally wonder if a relationship is suitable. However, there can be signs a relationship is ready to end.

Many people in a committed, loving relationship consider breaking up occasionally. All relationships can experience rough patches, such as in marriages. While these patches often pass, sometimes a relationship may no longer be suitable.

Supportive and healthy relationships have positive health effects. Staying in a relationship when it is no longer working may negate these effects. Recognizing certain signs can help a person know it may be time to break up.

This article discusses how to know if it is time to break up and whether a relationship can be saved. It also discusses how to break up with someone and how to practice self-care afterward.

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Signs that it is time for someone to break up may include:

One person is doing all the sacrificing

Most relationships require sacrifices for the other person. These can be large or small, such as relocating for their partner or doing the housework on a given day.

However, if the sacrifice is always one-sided, it can create a sense that a person has less power within the relationship. Low levels of personal relationship power can negatively affect relationship quality.

There is a lack of trust

Lack of trust in a relationship can cause resentment, power imbalance, and conflict. If a person feels they cannot trust their partner or cannot build trust, the relationship may not be suitable for them.

Values are misaligned

People may not be a long-term match if their core values are misaligned. Having different life goals may mean a relationship is not viable over time. One example is wanting or not wanting to raise a family.

Individuals have grown apart

People’s personalities, interests, and values often evolve as they age. It can be natural for people to grow apart in a relationship as these aspects change. If so, the relationship may no longer be suitable.

Presence of physical or emotional abuse

Abuse can come in different forms in a relationship. Abuse is any pattern of behavior that a person uses to gain or maintain control over their partner.

Types of abuse include:

Help is available

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of domestic violence, call 911 or otherwise seek emergency help. Anyone who needs advice or support can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 via:

  • phone, at 800-799-7233
  • text, by texting START to 88788

Many other resources are available, including helplines, in-person support, and temporary housing. People can find local resources and others classified by demographics, such as support specifically for People of Color, here:

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Frequent fighting

If people in a relationship often argue with each other, it may indicate their relationship has deeper issues.

Disagreements are a natural part of a relationship. In marriages, for example, people may experience more conflict if they have stress from another source.

However, continual fighting can indicate relationship stress. This may be due to unresolved issues or indicate the relationship is no longer suitable for one or both people.

Someone is thinking about breaking up often

It is natural for people to occasionally wonder if their relationship is right for them. However, if someone constantly thinks about breaking up, it may be a sign that the relationship is no longer suitable.

Some relationships with these signs are salvageable. They do not necessarily mean a person has to end their relationship unless there is an indication of abuse.

There are several ways people may be able to avoid the need to break up.

Learn more about saving a struggling relationship.

Communicate honestly

Honest and open communication can help address problems in a relationship by:

  • listening to both sides of an argument
  • speaking without defensiveness
  • talking through issues from both sides
  • discussing areas for improvement

Rekindle connection

Every loving relationship began for certain reasons. It can help people to revisit the things that made them fall in love.

It may also help to prioritize each other over external commitments. Spending time together again can help improve a relationship.

Seek professional help

Some relationships may need professional help to succeed. Mental health professionals can offer new perspectives and help people communicate and improve their relationships.

Learn about online couples counseling.

If someone feels the need to break up with someone they love, the following tips may help.

Plan ahead

Preparing what to say in advance can help. This can include:

  • practicing what to say
  • writing out what to say
  • rehearsing in front of a mirror

Choose the place

It can help to pick the right spot, such as somewhere comfortable or private for both people. A public setting may be safer under some circumstances.

Be honest and clear

If a person’s partner asks why they are breaking up, it can help to be honest and give clear reasons. This may help them to have better future relationships.

Avoid saying hurtful things

It can help to avoid insults or saying hurtful things during a breakup.

Prepare for their reaction

It is natural for people to become upset or cry during a breakup. However, feeling bad or guilty can be an invalid reason to stay in a relationship.

Create distance

It may help to have space after a breakup. Taking a break from seeing or talking with each other can create distance.

It can be difficult for a person to break up with someone. There are several ways to cope after a breakup.

Allow time to grieve

Processing and dealing with a breakup takes time.

One older study from 2011 investigated the impact of breaking up. Researchers found that breakups can decrease a person’s life satisfaction and increase stress for a period of time.

Speak with a trusted person

Talking over feelings with friends, family, or even a counselor may help a person feel better post breakup.

Practice self-care

Self-care after a breakup can help a person process their feelings, such as:

  • listening to sad music
  • going for a run
  • writing in a journal

Healthy relationships may have rough patches. If people are concerned about their relationship, there are ways to get help and potentially save it.

However, some signs may indicate a relationship is no longer suitable. If so, people can break up in ways that minimize distress and help them move on.