When These 4 Things Start Happening In Your Relationship, It's Time To Break Up

Photo: Seth Doyle via unsplash
How To Know When To Break Up And Let Go Of Your Relationship
Love, Heartbreak

In a relationship, you don't often think about the signs you should break up and let go of your partner, especially when you love them so much.

But, when you do, you save yourself from an even more painful heartbreak. Knowing when to break up and cut your losses gives you more time to heal and find the love you truly deserve.

RELATED: 5 Clear Signs Your Relationship Is Over & It's Time To Break Up

"Should we break up?" you ask.

Based on my own experience plus decades of research by John M. Gottman, Ph.D., couples’ therapist extraordinaire, I can tell you.

Gottman outlined what he called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse which, when they appear in a couple's relationship, more often than not signal the beginnings of a breakup.

Even though breaking up with someone you love is painful and no one wants to go through that heartbreak, willingly, it may be for the best when your relationship starts falling apart.

Here are a few ways to know when to break up and let go of your relationship.

1. Criticism: your relationship lacks respect

When you and your partner lose respect for one another, your relationship is bound to fail. You may start criticizing one another with comments like, "You never help me" or "You always ignore me."

These sentences inflict pain because they tear a person down and don’t focus on what a person did. There is a huge difference between pointing out behavior that bothers you and attacking that individual personally.

Healthy couples also have disagreements, but they discuss them without demeaning one another. When you have so little respect for each other, your union is in real trouble.

2. Defensiveness: you start turning one another​

When defensiveness enters a relationship, couples quickly become defensive when addressing one another.

That type of exchange won’t help heal the situation or move a relationship to a better place. Each time you respond to hurtful comments with a counter-attack, your relationship will sail into even rougher water.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

Instead of a nasty exchange, a person in a healthy relationship will highlight feelings and point out behaviors without jumping into blaming the other person.

RELATED: 5 Undeniable Signs That It's Time To Break Up

3. Contempt: one or both of you feels superior to the other

When you feel that you are smarter or more important than your partner, you are more likely to mock them, put them down and dismiss their complaints and feelings. That’s a recipe for disaster.

For a healthy relationship to thrive, especially over the long haul, partners need to respect one another. They need to feel that they are better together than apart.

It is true that some years are more challenging than others, like when the kids are little or when there is a financial scare, but healthy relationships thrive when you both respect one another as true teammates.

4. Stonewalling: one or both of you turn away

When you voice a concern and your partner ignores you, walks out of the room or starts checking their cell phone, how does it feel?

Gottman calls this type of behavior "stonewalling" and it hurts. Research shows that after one partner stonewalls the other, both of their heart rates climb.

People think less clearly when their hearts are racing, so the words that follow this type of interaction are likely to be even less considerate.

There is a lot that couples therapists can do, but they can’t work magic. When respect exits a relationship, there may be no turning back from an imminent breakup.

Letting go of someone you love, no matter how painful, is the best thing for both of you.

RELATED: 7 Subtle Signs It’s Time For You To Move On

Janis Roszler, LMFT, RD, LD/N, CDE, FAND is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the 2008-2009 diabetes educator of the year, and the author of numerous books and articles on the impact diabetes has on romantic and sexual relationships.