12 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Relationship

12 Signs Your Relationship is Over

Relationships move through patches. Sometimes they coast along beautifully. Sometimes they splutter. Sometimes they gasp for breath on a cold stone floor. And sometimes they couldn’t even be bothered doing that.  

So how do you know whether it’s time to leave or time to fight harder to hold on? How do you know the difference between a bad patch and a permanent stagnation?

Knowing whether or not to call it quits isn’t always easy but if you pay attention the clues will be there. There are plenty. Here are 12:

  1. You’re getting the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ chat.

    This can be heartbreaking, I know, but don’t fight it. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if it’s you or your partner. If this is what you’re hearing, it means the combination of both of you just doesn’t work anymore. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either of you. What it means is that he or she can’t – or won’t – love you the way you deserve to be loved. Hanging on to that sort of relationship is such a waste of you. And as for that one-way love thing – you’re just too good for it. Let it go so something better can find you.

  2. Oh the disappointment.

    When you come home to be surprised by a candlelit room, a dozen roses and him or her preparing your favourite meal, you’re disappointed because you have your favourite mag in one hand, your favourite ‘takeaway for one’ in the other and, well, when you imagined tonight – it didn’t look like candles and roses and favourite home-made dinners. Nup. Nothing like that at all.

  3. When there’s no ‘us’ in future.

    When you think of your future, it doesn’t involve a picture of you-know-who at all. Instead, you’re jumping out of parachutes on your own and planning a trip to Italy with friends to learn how to cook pizza and how to say, ‘Buongiorno’ the way the locals do.

  4. The perfect Saturday night. It just looks different.

    Your perfect Saturday night is snuggling up on the couch, eating takeaway and watch a movie. By yourself.

  5. What would you do if …

    If this was the last day of your life, who would you want to be spending it with? Okay. Time’s up. The answer’s ‘him’ or ‘her’. If you’re still wondering whether or not your partner makes it on to your top five list of ‘maybes’, it’s probably time to move on. 

  6. Two types of days. Or not.

    There used to be two types of days – days with your partner and days without. Days ‘with’ were the very best days of all. Not anymore.

  7. ‘That’ talk.

    Talk about the future – holidays, Christmas, having kids, growing old together – leaves you cold, though probably not as cold as the tumbleweeds that roll past in the silent void that follow every time there’s talk about the future – ‘Babe I’ve been thinking – you love kids, I love kids – do you think six would be too many? (At which point you’re wondering if by ‘kids’, he means with someone other than you – to which you would give your greatest blessing and, when the time came, an appropriate gift of a stuffed dog or a little yellow onesie.)

  8. What if …

    If something happened like, say, a nuclear holocaust, and every man or woman on the planet except yours was taken out, how would you feel about spending the rest of your life together? Relieved? Grateful? Devastated? Do you weep quietly? Howl like a fisherman’s widow/er at how damn unlucky you turned out to be? Feel too distressed at the end of online shopping to feel else anything at all? Pay attention.

  9. You’re not ‘you’ anymore.

    Are people telling you that you’ve changed? Lost your spark? Don’t seem happy any more? What’s telling is that you secretly know exactly what they mean because you’ve been thinking the same thing for a while.

  10. Body talk.

    You might be working hard to ignore the problem but your body won’t lie. It’s an annoying fact of being human that your body knows what’s going on often before the rest of you is ready to wise up. Are you having more than your usual share of headaches, muscle aches, back aches? Has your appetite changed? Is your sleep disturbed? They can all be signs that you’re off balance, and not just because of a dodgy pair of heels. What’s going on?

  11. List it.

    You make two lists: ‘Reasons to Stay’ and ‘Reasons to Leave’. When the ‘Reasons to Stay’ list ends up longer you’re disappointed, until you quickly decide that ‘our eyes aren’t the same colour’ is a completely legit reason to leave.

  12. And this.

    The things you used to love about your partner have become annoying, or nothing to you at all.

Ending a relationship is hard, even if you’re the one ending it. Listen to the clues. Giving up is very different to knowing when to walk away. Relationships are never a smooth road and periodically will require a fight of warrior daring to keep it together – even the good ones. 

The most important thing is knowing the difference between having a relationship that’s worth fighting for, even if you get tired of the fight for a while, and knowing when there’s nothing left to fight for at all. There will always be a corner of you that will know the answer.

20 Comments

Hannah V

I’m hoping someone can provide insight on mine and my bf’s relationship. We’ve been together almost 5 years, I feel like we’re in a healthy relationship but we do have our issues like everyone else. I struggle with anxiety and sometimes I think that might be taking a toll on our relationship and him, we’ve been emotionally disconnected for some time now and we talk about it openly often which most of the time leads into an argument of us going back & fourth telling each other what the other person does and how it makes us feel and finally we talk about the things we need to do to improve our communication, but we never really find the “solution” to our emotional disconnection which I feel like is the first step to tackle before communication. We love each other and want to make it work, so how do we go about getting that emotional connection strong again?

A little bit of background – I brought this up to him last night after sharing a video about emotional disconnection that I felt was very eye-opening and thought he’d have some insight to share and we could have an open conversation, but that didn’t happen. He didn’t say much about it besides “we’ve known this, but don’t know what to do about it” He said there’s no point in talking about it because it always leads to an argument.

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Della

So my think is fear. I’ve been married ten years and committed supported mostly all about his family. I have my dream and business ventures that he has never tried to support. I always put it aside because that’s what he suggested timing wasn’t or isn’t rigjt because he have to help his family. We bought a 3 family home that was to be turn into real estate property after five years of living there and upgradings. He moved all and I mean from his parents to all his siblings their kids and aunts and uncles. I have express to him how I feel about this and it’s like I’ve become a roommate who’s there for everyone. And I’m tired and done. It’s time for my kids and are to grow and to focus on my business. How do I live without someone who have told me over and over that I can’t make it without them but yet ten years with them no growth. Im afriad my kids will see me as wrong for breaking their home apart my family loves who they see on the outside. What how how can I break from this fear and bondage? I feel it and I know it’s time for me to walk walk away for my self and for my children. How do I go back to him for the fourth time and mean it and not be full of fear.

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Tee

I was in a relationship for 3 years. This guy was like everything to me and my kids. We dis everything together. Well I helped him mentally physically and spiritually to reach different levels in life and one day after I moved in with him for a short time until I closed on my house he dropped the ball and told me he didn’t want to be with me any more….I was floored broken felt used and on top of it all he bought a new car got a promotion at work I was like omg… now he doesn’t talk to me at all. He come in maybe say hello and thats it. He’s 57years old and acts like a child. I had a heart to heart talk with him and he told me he doesn’t know who he is or even how to be a man. I asked him why do you only be in relationships 3 to 5yrs and then you leave.. I have given this man everything because he led me to believe we would have a future together.

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Helen

My husband is seeing a woman and talking to her when he takes the dogs for a walk, he comes home and rushes out with the dogs. He said he was not seeing anyone. I went out with him one afternoon and this woman came along with her dog and was smiling at him in a funny way her head turned side ways and said hi there he just stud there. I did not like the way she was looking at him I was going to say something to her but did not I wish I did now. We have been fighting over this for a view days now and not getting any there. Now he says ” I am not talking to any woman”, but when he looks away he has that look in his eyes that says different. When I see her again I am going to let her know I am his wife but I don,t think it will make any difference. I don,t know what to do about this any more he is sixty four and she is younger than him. My son is up set about this and dose not want us to split up, but I do not want to stay with him if he is seeing this other woman

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Maica

My husband said He is not growing with me. ???? theb He left me. Please Enlighten me

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MK

Girl I feel all of this comment.. exactly how I feel except I’m not relying on him already I can make my own money even though it is hard as a woman. I just feel like he lacks aspiration and has for a few years now and has depression and I’m worried he will always just be satisfied/complacent/subjected with the bare minimum. I get that it is a pandemic now and everything is so different and I think a lot of people are now wondering what to do in life and having many doubts.

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Alice

I love him but I’m scared of missing out on everything. We’ve been together since freshman year of high school and now I’m in college. I feel like we’re growing apart but I don’t know what to do. I just don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering what I missed out on.

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candice

Dunno if anyone looks here anymore. My situation is ugghhh … bleak??? I finally came to terms w/ fact tht I shldnt expect my man to change who he is for me but yet know I’m not willing to accept nor live the rest of my life with the superficial love he has for me. This is so hard for me tho!! I don’t wanna have conflict, or hurt him an more than anything I’m stuck with this feeling like I “have” to tough it out. Im so torn & my mental health is not good anymore. Being emotionally neglected has taken a hard toll on me an I don’t even feel like me anymore.. I literally feel trapped

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Tanya B

I married at the age of 56 years old to a man who I’ve known since childhood. We dated for a year and a half. On our wedding night he changed. We’ve been married for 4 years and have never been on a date, we do nothing at all together. All he does is sits in the house and drinks about 6 beers a day and smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. I’m in a marriage by myself. We haven’t had sex in 3 years because he stinks of smoke. We don’t talk,or spend time together ever. I think it’s time to end this.

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Tam S

Have you ever read “Pigs in Heaven” by Barbara Kingsolver? It would be a great novel for you right now. It is the sequel to “The Bean Trees” which is less relevant to your situation but also a great book – and hoenstly i would recommend reading it first. They are both page turners. Anyways, i strongly recommend reading them. Best of luck.

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Amomdè

Well i been with my man for 11 yrs. 3 kids no ring , I’m 33 hes 40yrs. Old yes. both of us always had love but financially on life support. I love him but I’m starting to feel like i want more but i know he does as well, but i just want him to get his self together finacially right and chase the bag and go jard for his family. I feel like I’m growing apart i want to live my life and i feel he’s holding me back by not allowing me to grow as a women. I’m not perfect i just wish he would stop trying to keep me at his pace i want to be free to do what i want and love. Everybody deserve to be happy even if it’s not with that peraon you may be with now. I love him but i want more than just me standing by his side and he don’t want me be great. That’s how i feel, i just want him to understand i want to move on and love on me because I’m being so co depended. I don’t want to depend on no one that i feel can’t lead, so i become stagnate and lost to and that’s not fair for my health and mental. When i die i die alone ane everything i done in my life I’m taking that with me but leaving memories of my presents.

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candice

Oh wow u took words out of my mouth. I’m so ready to live my own life. Mine expects me to have no life outside of him & I’m so over it. I’ve gotten to the point I’m awkward when I am around ppl cuz its foreign to me now & I was always a social butterfly. Time for a change

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carrie l

I have all of these with no surprise but yet i leave constantly and feel better and always feel better and like a weight has been lifted. But then I always take him back mainly out of guilt and promises of change and working on making things better. But the hard core truth is ive out grown him. Yes not saying it to be cruel or hurtful but that is me being totally honest with myself in a very long time. I want to be happy. Tired of the long hours of argueing over the same issues. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Im tired of being the grown up in every situation. And as long as you say what they want to hear it makes everything okay. Well if that was how life worked wed all be selfish spoiled children which is what i feel i married. If i wanted to marry a kid i would have. Bottom line at the end of the day when its all said and done im content being alone i dont need a man to make me feel whole. And its sad that he does need me or any woman to feel like he can exist . I cant worry about that I have to concentrate on what i need which i havnt done in a long time due to putting everyone elses needs first.

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Heather H

Hi Carrie I,
I can completely understand where you are coming from.
To take the initiative and responsibility of being the one to stand up and say okay I’m not growing within this relationship, I need to move forward and in order to do that I need to leave the man takes guts.
Sometimes when we baby the men in our lives too much they do turn into children and you’re right, some days it feels like you have married a child but in a way over time that child like behaviour has been nurtured by you caring for them.
To leave and then to return again out of guilt serves no purpose for you, your future or his future either. So it’s best when you finally make that decision to go through with it, leave and stay left. Once each of you grow individually to be the best you can be then perhaps you can come back together; but until then, time alone is what would serve you best, as it will me as hard as it is.
Take care and know that you’re not alone other people are going through the same arduous journey.

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Megan B

I feel selfish I need to know if I’m just bailing cause of our eleven year difference or cause I’m growing out of him..one month into getting clean i got with him…we now have a four year old..but I won’t have anymore..help

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Eva

i believe we all know these things. but, to have someone else write them and place ’em out here for us to find with the help of the universe. makes these words sound so much more doable. you should write about courage and the stress that will follow during our bold move out of our comfortable modes of complacency. I really liked the article; it hit Home. Thanks.

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Hey Sigmund

Thanks Eva. I’m pleased the article found its way to you! Here are some articles that might be interesting for you:
. Living Brave: How to Make the Right Moment Right Now https://www.heysigmund.com/shame-why-its-not-the-enemy-and-how-to-stop-it-getting-in-the-way/
. Letting Go: How to Master the Art https://www.heysigmund.com/letting-go-how-to-master-the-art/
. And this one is about what happens to your body when you end a relationship that you’ve outgrown (if you’re at that point, which you might not be) – it explains why breakups feel so awful https://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/
You’re absolutely right about the courage and stress that comes when we stretch beyond our comfort zones, but it’s there that the growth and the great things happen.

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Jaime

any articles on how to choose between the 10 year relationship with your child’s father (that is pretty much just being roommates) to choosing to pursue someone else?!

Reply

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How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare
Separation anxiety has an important job to do - it’s designed to keep children safe by driving them to stay close to their important adults. Gosh it can feel brutal sometimes though.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person there will be anxiety unless there are two things: attachment with another trusted, loving adult; and a felt sense of you holding on, even when you aren't beside them. Putting these in place will help soften anxiety.

As long as children are are in the loving care of a trusted adult, there's no need to avoid separation. We'll need to remind ourselves of this so we can hold on to ourselves when our own anxiety is rising in response to theirs. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it's more than an adult being present. It needs an adult who, through their strong, warm, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for that child, and their joy in doing so. This can be helped along by showing that you trust the adult to love that child big in our absence. 'I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.'

To help your young one feel held on to by you, even in absence, let them know you'll be thinking of them and can't wait to see them. Bolster this by giving them something of yours to hold while you're gone - a scarf, a note - anything that will be felt as 'you'.

They know you are the one who makes sure their world is safe, so they’ll be looking to you for signs of safety: 'Do you think we'll be okay if we aren't together?' First, validate: 'You really want to stay with me, don't you. I wish I could stay with you too! It's hard being away from your special people isn't it.' Then, be their brave. Let it be big enough to wrap around them so they can rest in the safety and strength of it: 'I know you can do this, love. We can do hard things can't we.'

Part of growing up brave is learning that the presence of anxiety doesn't always mean something is wrong. Sometimes it means they are on the edge of brave - and being away from you for a while counts as brave.
Even the most loving, emotionally available adult might feel frustration, anger, helplessness or distress in response to a child’s big feelings. This is how it’s meant to work. 

Their distress (fight/flight) will raise distress in us. The purpose is to move us to protect or support or them, but of course it doesn’t always work this way. When their big feelings recruit ours it can drive us more to fight (anger, blame), or to flee (avoid, ignore, separate them from us) which can steal our capacity to support them. It will happen to all of us from time to time. 

Kids and teens can’t learn to manage big feelings on their own until they’ve done it plenty of times with a calm, loving adult. This is where co-regulation comes in. It helps build the vital neural pathways between big feelings and calm. They can’t build those pathways on their own. 

It’s like driving a car. We can tell them how to drive as much as we like, but ‘talking about’ won’t mean they’re ready to hit the road by themselves. Instead we sit with them in the front seat for hours, driving ‘with’ until they can do it on their own. Feelings are the same. We feel ‘with’, over and over, until they can do it on their own. 

What can help is pausing for a moment to see the behaviour for what it is - a call for support. It’s NOT bad behaviour or bad parenting. It’s not that.

Our own feelings can give us a clue to what our children are feeling. It’s a normal, healthy, adaptive way for them to share an emotional load they weren’t meant to carry on their own. Self-regulation makes space for us to hold those feelings with them until those big feelings ease. 

Self-regulation can happen in micro moments. First, see the feelings or behaviour for what it is - a call for support. Then breathe. This will calm your nervous system, so you can calm theirs. In the same way we will catch their distress, they will also catch ours - but they can also catch our calm. Breathe, validate, and be ‘with’. And you don’t need to do more than that.
When things feel hard or the world feels big, children will be looking to their important adults for signs of safety. They will be asking, ‘Do you think I'm safe?' 'Do you think I can do this?' With everything in us, we have to send the message, ‘Yes! Yes love, this is hard and you are safe. You can do hard things.'

Even if we believe they are up to the challenge, it can be difficult to communicate this with absolute confidence. We love them, and when they're distressed, we're going to feel it. Inadvertently, we can align with their fear and send signals of danger, especially through nonverbals. 

What they need is for us to align with their 'brave' - that part of them that wants to do hard things and has the courage to do them. It might be small but it will be there. Like a muscle, courage strengthens with use - little by little, but the potential is always there.

First, let them feel you inside their world, not outside of it. This lets their anxious brain know that support is here - that you see what they see and you get it. This happens through validation. It doesn't mean you agree. It means that you see what they see, and feel what they feel. Meet the intensity of their emotion, so they can feel you with them. It can come off as insincere if your nonverbals are overly calm in the face of their distress. (Think a zen-like low, monotone voice and neutral face - both can be read as threat by an anxious brain). Try:

'This is big for you isn't it!' 
'It's awful having to do things you haven't done before. What you are feeling makes so much sense. I'd feel the same!

Once they really feel you there with them, then they can trust what comes next, which is your felt belief that they will be safe, and that they can do hard things. 

Even if things don't go to plan, you know they will cope. This can be hard, especially because it is so easy to 'catch' their anxiety. When it feels like anxiety is drawing you both in, take a moment, breathe, and ask, 'Do I believe in them, or their anxiety?' Let your answer guide you, because you know your young one was built for big, beautiful things. It's in them. Anxiety is part of their move towards brave, not the end of it.

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