People reason with themselves and others when it comes to staying in a relationship. It may have been magical and perfect when you first got together. But over time, things started to fall apart. You may be making excuses for yourself, or your partner at this point, but the bottom line is; you know the relationship isn’t where it once was. On top of that, it isn’t anywhere near where it should be in order to be healthy.

Accepting the fact that a relationship is truly over can be extremely difficult. The fear of loneliness tends to make us stick around much longer than we should. Others often stay together for security, or financial reasons. Even couples who are still technically married may list themselves as ‘separated.’

Unfortunately, sticking around in a relationship when you know it’s over isn’t healthy or fulfilling for either party. So, when can you be absolutely sure the relationship should be severed? Asking yourself the right questions to come to that conclusion is important. Let’s take a look at a few telltale signs that it’s time for your relationship to come to an end.

There is No Communication

Almost every piece of advice you’ll hear about a relationship goes back to communication being the key to success. A lack of healthy communication can also be the downfall for many couples. It’s important not to confuse ‘talking’ with actual communication. When things are uncomfortable, or you’re trying to fill up space, you may actually find yourself talking more than you usually would.

Deep down, however, you’ll know the difference between true communication and just ‘small talk.’ You shouldn’t feel as though you have to talk with your partner just to avoid any awkward silences. If you’re not expressing yourselves to one another, there is a serious problem. Communication without connection is toxic to a relationship, and if both of you cannot find a way to make a change with one another, the relationship can’t last.

You Fight Constantly

This may seem a bit obvious, but if you find yourself going from fight to fight, something is seriously wrong. Every couple argues, and some couples can even come back stronger from an argument when things are resolved. However, a string of connected arguments is never healthy. You may start to notice that somehow, all of your arguments will start to become connected. You or your partner might bring up something that you fought about weeks ago, etc. Disagreements may be normal in a relationship, but when they become your only form of communication, it’s time to move on.

You Want it to End

We typically want to find some specific reason for our relationships to come to an end. Ironically enough, if you find yourself searching for that reason, it’s likely that you’ve already made your choice. You wouldn’t be looking for a way out if you didn’t want one, even if that’s difficult to admit to yourself.

Sometimes, there is no solid proof needed, or no ‘final straw’ that needs to end a relationship. You don’t need permission to call things off, and you don’t need to feel guilty about it if the time is right. Sometimes, after you’ve exhausted all other options, the best thing you can do is think about what you really want. More often than not, you’ll already know the answer when it comes to how to handle your relationship.

Written by Kin Leung, MFT, providing couples therapy Burlingame