Every relationship has its problems. Even the happiest couples will hit a few bumps in the road. But there are some issues that are more like giant summits than small stumbling blocks.

It hurts when you feel like things have soured in your relationship and it can be difficult to know whether to work it out or call it a day.

Whether you’ve stopped having sex, or you can’t seem to stop fighting, there are some signs that you just can’t ignore.

Here are eight signs your relationship isn’t working, what you can do to try and fix it, and when you know it’s time to just throw in the towel and break up.

1. You’re always fighting.

All couples fight. It’s normal to argue occasionally, and it’s actually a sign of a healthy relationship if you do it the right way. Fighting becomes a problem when it becomes overly critical, disrespectful, and more than you can emotionally handle.

Studies have shown that a healthy relationship needs at least five positive interactions for every negative one. If you’re always putting each other down, or your arguments erupt into screaming matches at the smallest things, or you spend your time tip-toeing between blow-ups, your relationship has turned toxic.

Is it possible to recover from all the conflict and keep your relationship?

What You Can Do

If you’re fighting all the time, it may be time to seek counseling to help discuss your issues in a healthy way. A couple’s counselor acts as an objective mediator, and they can help you work better together without blowing up into a storm of who’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ You can also learn about anger management, how to de-escalate an argument, and how to communicate anger without being contemptuous.

When to Break Up

If your fights ever escalate to the point of physical or emotional abuse, it’s time to get out of the relationship. If your partner shoves, hits, or grabs you, or if they gaslight you by telling you that you’re imagining abusive behavior, you need to leave. Even if you just can’t stop arguing, despite seeking counseling, it’s time to consider ending it. Some relationships are toxic beyond repair and just not worth fighting about.

2. There’s no intimacy.

It’s perfectly normal for the passion to slow down in any relationship. The honeymoon doesn’t last forever, and outside stress like an exhausting job and small children all have an expected impact on your sex life.

But there’s a difference between sexual ups and downs, and have no desire at all for each other. If there’s no longer any chemistry, or the thought of touching your partner repulses you, that’s a major sign that something is wrong.

What You Can Do

Have an honest conversation with your partner — they may be feeling the same way. If you’re busy with work or family, it can be helpful to make a commitment together to enjoy more physical intimacy. Set a date each week in the calendar and stick to it. You can also make an effort to be more affectionate in your daily life — an unexpected kiss or a playful squeeze can make your partner feel desired and appreciated.

When to Break Up

If your lack of sex life has become a constant source of conflict or contempt, or if your partner doesn’t want to discuss the issue or make any changes, it’s time to consider ending the relationship. While sex isn’t the most crucial thing in a long-term relationship, it is an important way to feel connected and loved. You need to be honest with yourself about whether you want to be in a relationship without any affection or physical intimacy.

3. There’s no trust.

As you move through all the highs and lows of life, you need to be able to rely on your partner. You cannot have a healthy, lasting relationship without trust, so how do you build an unshakeable bond, or repair it if it’s been broken?

What You Can Do

Trust can be difficult to build, especially if you or your partner has done something to violate that trust. Some people are simply untrusting and may be projecting their insecurities or past experiences of betrayal on to the other person. In these cases, it’s best to seek counseling to work on these trust issues.

You can also take steps within your relationship. Aim to build trust incrementally by keeping your word on small promises — simply being there when you say you’ll be there can be a huge step.

You can also try practicing authentic vulnerability by opening up to your partner as the truest version of yourself. When you share things that are personal or painful, you’ll begin to form a bond. Be honest when you’ve done something wrong, and be willing to forgive when you are wrong. At the end of the day, you’ve got to have each other’s backs.

When to Break Up

The harsh truth is that if there’s no trust in your relationship, it’s probably not going to work out. It takes time and effort to build trust, and if you or your partner doesn’t want to work on it, you need to end the relationship. It’s important to feel safe inside your relationship — you deserve someone you can count on.

4. Jealousy is getting the better of you.

We all experience jealous feelings throughout our lives, but the key is to manage your jealousy so it doesn’t become a drain on your relationship.

Even though a little jealousy is normal, it can quickly become unhealthy if your partner becomes possessive or controlling because of it.

The question is, how do you turn things around?

What You Can Do

Jealousy is usually caused by deep-seated insecurity, so a jealous partner needs to address their insecurities and stop projecting them on to the other person. If you or your partner is having trouble with this, consider seeking professional counseling.

When to Break Up

It’s not okay if your partner cannot control their jealousy and they refuse to make changes or seek help. If they’re always snooping through your phone, stalking your location, lashing out, or being aggressive or controlling in any way, you should end the relationship.

5. You don’t spend much time together.

Spending quality time together is one of the most important parts of a relationship. This is your special time to laugh and listen, and have meaningful conversations (beyond a passing ‘How was your day?’).

If you find yourself spending less and less time together, or avoiding planning activities together, this can be a problem.

What You Can Do

Commit to spending time together. Pick a day of the week to be your date night and don’t cancel for anything less than an emergency. Some couples stave off boredom by doing something new and exciting together, like a weekend trip to a different city or checking out that new gin bar. For others, simply snuggling up on the couch with a movie is their perfect idea of a date night.

When to Break Up

If you’re making plans with everyone except your partner, and it’s clear you just don’t enjoy being around them anymore, it’s time to move on.

6. You have issues with change.

Change and growth are part of sharing a life together, but it can also become a source of contention.

On one end, accepting your partner for who they are is part of a loving relationship. If you or your partner are constantly trying to change or control each other, this is a problem.

On the other end, some people need to make changes but refuse to seek help for either personal issues or problems within the relationship. You can help your partner make changes, but how do you know when to stop trying if they won’t accept help?

What You Can Do

Accept your partner for who they are, and stop pressuring them to change. Let the little things slide and celebrate all the things you love about them instead. If there are deeper issues, like personal addiction or relationship problems, seek out a counselor for professional help.

When to Break Up

If the relationship has turned toxic and you or your partner are completely averse to healthy change, even after honest discussions and professional counseling, it’s time to get out.

7. Your emotional needs aren’t being met.

When your partner isn’t fulfilling your emotional needs, this can lead to feelings of loneliness or resentment, which are poison to any relationship.

It’s crucial that you’re both on the same page about your needs (like communication, kindness and respect) and are willing to listen to each other without being dismissive or defensive.

What You Can Do

Have a frank discussion with your partner. Good communication is essential in every relationship, and you need to be clear about your emotional needs. Give your partner the opportunity to make changes before completely dismissing the relationship. It’s also possible you may need to look within yourself to make changes.

When to Break Up

If you’ve discussed it with your partner and they make no effort to change or continuously dismiss your concerns, there’s no reason to wait around. For your sake, end the relationship.

8. You’re thinking about cheating, or you already have.

Fantasizing is normal in any relationship — but the occasional daydream is not the same as persistent fantasizing that begins to negatively affect your relationship.

If your eyes are wandering too much, or if you’ve already had an emotional or physical affair, this is a major sign that your relationship isn’t going to work.

What You Can Do

Make an effort to refocus your attention on your partner. Remind yourself why you’re with them and all the things you love about them, and channel your fantasies back to them. If you’ve already cheated, emotionally or physically, you’ll need to have an honest conversation with your partner about breaking up.

When to Break Up

If you’re at the point of constant fantasizing or having an affair, you’ve probably already checked out of your relationship emotionally. When you already know you want someone else, it’s time to come clean with your partner and end the relationship.

It’s important to remember that every relationship is different, and what may be a dealbreaker for one couple might be something another couple is willing to work through.

Aside from physical or abusive behavior (which is automatic grounds for ending a relationship), many issues can be worked through with time, dedication, and professional help.

If you’ve put in the work and things haven’t improved, or your partner is unwilling to change, or even if you’re simply no longer happy — it’s time to put yourself first and move on.

[Featured photo by Shanique Wright]


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