“When both partners are noticing issues and are willing to engage in conversation, you have a solid foundation to move forward."

While a healthy romantic relationship can support good mental health, the stress caused by friction or issues within a relationship can really be a draw on our mood and well-being. 

Every relationship has rough patches, but if it’s causing too much stress too often, it may be time to reflect on whether the relationship is worth fighting for.

Ending a relationship is a big decision, and it can be hard to figure out if we’d be better off with or without our partner, particularly when others are invested in the outcome of our relationship (shared friends or especially children). 

This article provides a brief overview of some of the signs that your relationship has potential for being a positive aspect of your life and other signs that you may be better off no longer being in your current relationship. 

Signs that a relationship can be improved

When both partners are noticing issues and are willing to engage in conversation, you have a solid foundation to move forward. Below are a few signs that you might want to consider for staying together.

You can be vulnerable with your partner

  • If you trust your partner enough to be open with them, that’s something that’s both valuable to your mental health and demonstrates a trusting bond. 

You both work on the things you say you will

  • Talk is one thing, but actions speak louder than words. If you and your partner are both able to make changes after hearing each other out, then this is a good sign.

You can be yourself in the relationship

  • Your partner is someone you can be authentic with and gives you the space and encouragement to be yourself.

There are things you know you can do to improve

  • If you haven’t yet put in a solid effort to bring your best self to the relationship or applied reliable relationship strategies to do your part in developing and maintaining the relationship, it’s usually worth giving those a shot before throwing in the towel.  

You still care about your partner, even if the ‘spark’ has lessened

  • Relationships take work and maintaining a relationship may seem less exciting than starting one, but this doesn’t mean that those more romantic feelings can’t ever come back. Planning a romantic date, trying new things together, and exploring shared interests can help to rekindle things.

Despite ups and downs in the relationship, you still feel loved

  • When things aren’t going well in a relationship, it can feel like negative emotions such as anger or frustration define the relationship. However, if despite the rough patches and associated negative feelings, you still feel loved by your partner, then there is the distinct possibility that the relationship can be worked on and improved.

If these signs resonate with you, increased effort and commitment from both partners might allow you to keep your relationship as a meaningful and fulfilling part of your life. 

If you both want to work on things and are willing to make changes, but are having a hard time understanding each other, connecting with a couples therapist can really help. 

Couples therapists can offer professional, unbiased advice, guidance, and direction, and act as a mediator. Some guys worry that the therapist may take sides or judge, but they are trained not to do so.

Signs it could be time to move on

The prospect of breaking up with someone can raise a lot of concerns and negative thoughts. It’s common to worry about being happy while single or not finding someone else in the future, but being single can be a lot better than being stuck in an unhealthy relationship. 

Below are a few signs it may be time to move on. While one issue alone isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, the more concerns you identify with, the less likely it is that you will be able to restore a healthy relationship. 

There is a lack of shared perspectives

  • Most relationships have their foundation in shared values/principles/ideologies. Whether it’s religion, politics, or views on other key issues, if your fundamental perspectives are vastly different, the clash of values may be too much to overcome (especially if this issue was downplayed or hidden at the start).

You aren’t able to be your own person

  • Growing together in a relationship can be a beautiful thing, but if your partner does not support you having your own identity within the relationship, then it may be a signal to you that you’re better off without the relationship.

You feel disrespected

  • Mutual respect is essential for any healthy relationship, whether that be romantic or not. A lack of respect from your partner is a strong signal that the relationship is not a healthy place for you.

You don’t fully trust your partner

  • Trust in one another is also a core aspect of a healthy relationship. If your partner lacks honesty, it’s hard to have confidence in their commitment to a healthy relationship with you.

No emotional connection and/or desire for physical intimacy

  • Emotional and physical intimacy are critical aspects of a good romantic relationship, and without this, the relationship can feel empty.

Lack of compromise

  • Reciprocity (mutual compromise) is very important for a healthy relationship. If you’re finding your partner rarely, if ever, is willing to compromise in the relationship, it can end up making you feel disrespected, demeaned, or ignored, which is not good for your mental health.

You feel abused (emotional, physical, sexual) or manipulated

  • Though people don’t talk about it much, many men are victims of domestic abuse, in both heterosexual and queer relationships.
  • Emotional abuse can take many forms, such as your partner constantly needing to know where you are or who you’re with, checking your phone without permission, keeping you away from friends or family, preventing access to money, demeaning you, or threats of violence. 
  • Any form of abuse is an immediate signal that the relationship is not healthy and may be unsafe to continue. 
  • It’s important to know the signs of abuse and domestic violence and steps you can take.

Deciding whether or not you stay in a relationship is complicated. But the signs above can help guide you toward making the best decision for your own health and happiness.

Some guys find it helpful to write a list of pros and cons (you can use the signs above to get you thinking), or getting a second opinion by talking things through with a friend, or talking with a therapist.

Depending on what you decide is best, we have other tips and articles that can guide you through possible next steps. 

Next Steps: