In many ways, dysfunctional relationships can be more difficult to end than healthy relationships.
If you’ve been with your partner for a long time, you’ll likely have trouble calling it quits—and even if you do manage to get out, you might find yourself heading back for more.
But how do you know when to end a relationship for good? It’s true that relationships require work, and if you’re dedicated to your partner, you can fix many of the communication issues that result in dysfunction. However, if you notice many of the signs below, you may want to consider ending the relationship once and for all.
1. You regularly deal with threats.
If every conflict ends with, “I’ll move out,” it’s obviously a bad sign. This shows that one (or, more typically, both) partners can’t think of a way to resolve conflict other than with an ultimatum. The threat is a show of power and a simple way to throw the discussion off course.
In other words, they don’t want to negotiate or make compromises, and that’s extremely bad news for the relationship.
2. Many of your fights result from jealousy.
Jealousy occurs in healthy relationships, but at some point, it can overshadow just about everything else. This often occurs when the jealousy comes from feelings of ownership; the jealous person feels entitled to their partner’s time.
This can cause conflicts that seem to come out of nowhere. One partner might decide to go out with friends; this can prompt serious feelings of resentment from the jealous partner. The jealousy also creates a sort of feedback loop so that every new incident is more dramatic than the last. Unfortunately, a clean break is often the simplest and healthiest solution.
3. You don’t have any fights at all.
Some couples don’t fight, but that’s rarely a good thing. While it’s certainly possible for two people to communicate effectively through every single problem, it’s extremely rare, and it actually isn’t something to strive for.
Most partners will occasionally disagree, and conflicts are an inevitable part of spending a lot of time with another human being. Often, a couple doesn’t fight because one partner can’t effectively present their problems. It’s a recipe for disaster, as this type of relationship is ultimately very unfulfilling.
4. Grudges come up in arguments and in your day-to-day life.
Some couples use grudges to change the goalposts in every conflict. That’s problematic, as the grudges create deep negative feelings for both partners—and they prevent conflicts from resolving in a healthy way.
Grudges often start as small issues that aren’t addressed early. In fact, you might never bring up your grudges to your partner, but the negative feelings you associate with those grudges can influence arguments, turning minor quibbles into all-out wars.
5. You’re focused on who “wins” each conflict.
In a relationship, fights aren’t about who wins or loses—they’re about communicating with your partner and resolving the conflict in a healthy way.
Sometimes, that means that one person apologizes, but the other person must accept the apology and create open channels of communication to prevent similar conflicts from happening in the future.