Whether you’ve been dating for years or have only been exclusive for a few months, there may come a point when you start questioning your relationship with your SO. The act of questioning your love for a particular person can be the first sign that you are considering ending it. This can be heartbreaking, yes, but sometimes it’s necessary. We understand ending a relationship is never easy, which may prolong your decision to do so, but it’s important to learn to be honest with yourself and the person you’re with.
Here are some questions to think about if your relationship isn’t turning out the way you had hoped.
1. What does my future look like with my partner?
It can be intimidating to think about the future, but usually if you’re with the right person, it’s a topic you’re both eager to discuss. College is a time for personal growth, trying new things and exploring the endless possibilities that await you in the real world. It only makes sense that people change as they get older or dedicate themselves to new paths. Healthy relationships involve individuals that are able to grow together. They support one another and encourage them to enjoy themselves, knowing at the end of the day their love is strong enough to last through it all. You shouldn’t feel like your partner is holding you back in any way.
Lindsey Allen, a senior at the University of New Haven, expresses the importance of discussing the future of your relationship. “If one of you wants to travel the world and the other would like to stay in his/her hometown forever, that's a serious conflict,” she says. “Determining whether you and your SO have the same goals in mind is a big step in figuring out whether or not the relationship will actually last.” It’s scary to admit you might be in a dead-end relationship, but thinking about the future is the first step to determining how to make your dreams a reality. You shouldn’t be with someone who makes you feel limited — end of story.
2. Are my needs being met?
This is a question that’s necessary at any point in a relationship. Dedicating your time and love to another person is a big commitment, so you should make sure you’re getting treated the way you deserve to be. This doesn’t mean your partner should change who they are for you — that’s never a good solution. It’s simply important to revisit how you and your SO are treating one another as the relationship grows. Are you still speaking kindly to each other? Do you feel supported and loved? Are you proud of the relationship you’re in?
People have different expectations when it comes to their relationships but desiring respect, trust and happiness should resonate with everyone. Hailey*, a senior at Emmanuel College, explains her experience when she realized the person she was with wasn’t enough for her. “It took me awhile to gain self-confidence,” she says. “But once I did, I realized my worth and realized I could be with someone who was actually what I wanted.” If you don’t feel appreciated in your relationship, then it’s not worth your time anymore. Being single is better than being with someone who doesn’t treat you right, no matter how many years you have been with them.
3. Am I still in love with my partner or just the idea of them?
Many couples seem to fall into a routine the longer they’ve been together. If being with someone feels more like a comforting habit than being in love, it’s time to reconsider. More importantly, if the only reason you’re still with someone is because the act of breaking up with them is too daunting, then you shouldn’t be with them. It’s not fair to yourself or your partner to stay in a relationship because you’re scared of being alone. Therefore, so many women express the importance of being happily single before you enter a relationship. The person you’re with should add to your already secure life — they shouldn’t feel like a crutch.
Megan Lambert, a junior at Emmanuel College, shares some insight into her recent breakup. “The decision was not at all easy. But I realized what I would miss out of the relationship wasn’t his personality but rather the idea of being in a relationship — and that wasn’t okay or fair to either of us.” It can be difficult to reflect on the current state of your relationship, especially after years of being with someone, but it’s how you know you’re truly where you want to be.
4. Why am I in this relationship?
This seems like an easy enough question to answer, right? It’s usually good to ask yourself this once the “honeymoon phase” is over. Love is blinding; this is true. But when it really comes down to it, you need to be able to answer this question honestly. Are you head over heels in love? Wonderful! Does your partner bring out the best in you? Even better.
Being honest with yourself can be extremely difficult because you might not always like the answer. Be sure to take a step back from your relationship and evaluate it. Hopefully this will leave you feeling even more appreciative for the person you’re with. On the contrary, if asking yourself this question reveals more heartache than you expected, talk it through with your partner. Being in a relationship means being able to confide in one another — about anything. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, then you should rethink where your relationship is headed.
5. Will I be happier without this person?
Happiness seems to be the ultimate goal in life. Who wouldn’t want to live blissfully every day? Many people find themselves seeking happiness through relationships. However, it’s important to remember the most vital relationship is the one you have with yourself. Chances are you’re with your SO because they make you happy. Ask yourself, is this still true? If you can see yourself living a happier life without your partner, then it’s time to end it.
Rachel Petty, a senior at James Madison University, agrees this question is a must-ask. “If the answer is yes [you’d be happier alone], it's clear that it's time to end the relationship. There's no reason to hold onto something if it's for comfort,” she says. “You have to do what's right for you and you only!” We couldn’t agree more. If you’re not with someone who adds positivity to your life, then why waste your time with them? All relationships go through ups and downs, but if the downs become a constant, you need to take action for the sake of your own happiness.
6. What does this relationship bring out in me?
Your partner should help to bring out the best in you. This can come from their love and support, which encourages you to be your ultimate self. They should make you happy, which helps you maintain a positive outlook and take on challenges knowing you have someone cheering you on. Your partner should make you feel comfortable with who you are and you should be excited to do the same for them.
Lindsey expresses the importance of being with someone who makes you feel good about yourself. “Does being with this person bring out the best in you or the worst? How do you feel when you're with them? If they make you feel stressed or unfulfilled, that's a key sign that things should end.” You shouldn’t have to consistently worry about what your partner will think of you. All relationships require compromise, yes, but you should never have to hide who you are to fulfill someone else’s expectations or ease their insecurities when it comes to trust. Be your true self, and the right person will love even your most difficult qualities.
7. Am I treated with respect/do I respect my partner?
Finally, one of the most important aspects of a relationship: respect. Being with someone you respect and admire is key to being in a healthy relationship. You should be proud of the person you’re with and the way you two interact. If you’re making excuses for who they are or hiding parts of your relationship from your friends, that’s not okay. You deserve to be respected, and you deserve to be with someone who you can respect too.
Knowing your self-worth is one of the greatest ways to ensure you’re being treated properly. If you have low expectations for yourself and don’t treat yourself with respect, chances are you won’t recognize when your partner is in the wrong. Be confident in what you desire, love who you are, and set an example of how you should be treated by treating yourself the same way. If you can’t respect yourself in the relationship you’re in, that’s also a sign it’s time to end it. And if you can’t treat your SO properly because you don’t respect who they are, a goodbye is definitely in your future.
Every relationship is unique in its own way. That’s what makes love such a beautiful thing. However, all healthy relationships tend to have the same qualities. You should be able to trust the person you’re with and show them off proudly. You should feel confident with who you are in your relationship and be able to recognize when you aren’t getting what you deserve. Be honest with yourself about what you need, what you want, and where your future is headed. Your answers will ultimately tell you what to do. Cheers!
*Name has been changed