One really common question that I get often is, “how do I know when I should break up with someone?” or it’s variation, “I really love this person but how do I know if something is a deal breaker?” or more harrowing, “Should I get a divorce?”
Without a well-rounded perspective on what your relationship is really like, whether you should stay or go is my best guess— and you deserve better than that.
Frankly, whether to dump them or lean in and try harder to make things work is one of the most difficult decisions that anyone ever has to make, so if you’re going through this, I don’t envy you.
Here are seven important questions to ask yourself when you’re considering whether break up or make up and try to improve your relationship:
1. Are your long-term goals and values compatible?
Do your life goals mesh?
Do you have similar values?
If you want to travel the world and don’t particularly love children, but your partner wants the white picket fence and 2.5 kids, that’s a pretty large chasm to bridge between the two of you. Same goes for religion, politics and anything else you feel really strongly about.
2. Are they honest and faithful?
Honesty and respect are key for a successful long-term relationship. If you’re struggling with serious dishonesty from your partner about big things (not silly white lies meant to spare your feelings), you’ve got a real problem on your hands.
If your relationship rests on a bedrock of honesty, you’ve got much more to work with. A warning, wide-reaching dishonesty isn’t likely to get better over time, so if you’re hoping that they’ll turn it around, I’ve got some bad news for you….
3. Are you excited about this person?
When you strip away all of the arguments, disagreements and minor problems, are you still generally excited about being with them?
If you met them today, would you be interested in dating your partner?
It’s really important for both people to feel like they’re getting a great deal when it comes to their mate— and if you’re still thrilled to be with them, it’ll be much easier to work though problems as time wears on than if you settle.
4. Are they interested in personal growth?
As the months turn into years together, you’ll both grow and change.
However, if you’re interested in personal growth but they aren’t, it’s likely that you’ll soon outpace them and then feel dragged down as the time wears on. Consider whether they have goals, drive and a life purpose that matches yours.
5. Do they make you feel appreciated, happy and good about yourself?
Does the other person appreciate you?
Do they bring you down or up?
Are they insulting or respectful to you?
You should be able to say with confidence that as a whole, they are a positive addition to your life.
6. How’s the communication?
Do you feel safe when expressing your needs, wants and feelings?
Can you disagree in a way that helps you both grow or do you rip each other to shreds?
Positive communication only becomes more important as your relationship continues.
7. Are you happy more often than you’re sad?
If you’re crying more often than you’re smiling, and it’s not the one-off rough patch, it’s a big red flag that things aren’t quite right with your relationship. It sounds obvious, but it’s truly surprising how often people ignore their own happiness when trying to make a decision about whether to break up.
While it’s normal to have garden-variety disagreements and the occasional rough patch with someone, it is not normal to argue every night and cry all the time.
If you’re constantly trying to “fix things” or you feel like you’re going through hell to maintain your relationship, consider whether it’s really worth it.
How did your relationship compare to this list? What made you decide to break up in the past?