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It's difficult to admit that a relationship that started out great and with so much promise has turned into something bad. When we enter a relationship, we’re often wearing rose-colored glasses, focusing on all our partner’s good qualities and ignoring their faults. That’s why our family and friends are typically better at predicting the outcome of our relationships than we are.

Here are three signs that it might be time to end a relationship:

1. You don’t have personal freedom.

Relationships are not about controlling another person; they are about giving him or her complete freedom and seeing that each other’s decisions are aligned. Each person has unique needs and the best relationships are ones in which partners fulfill each other’s most important needs. If you find your partner is controlling how you spend money, who you hang out with, how you dress, or any other decisions, take it as a big red flag. People who seek to control their partners are insecure about their ability to meet their partner's needs. They fear that freedom will help their partner realize that life is better without the relationship. A secure partner is confident in their ability to meet the other’s needs; they know that if their partner leaves them for someone else, the relationship wasn’t meant to be. This news might be tough to take at first, but in the end, there’s a better match out there, and the relationship's ending opens the door for a more fulfilling union.

2. Your 80/20 ratio is off.

John Gottman, the renowned couples researcher, is famously able to predict divorce with 90 percent accuracy. How does he do it? By watching partners communicate with each other and coding their ratio of positive to negative exchanges. Couples should have at least 80 percent positive interactions. The other 20 percent, according to Gottman, may never get resolved; the arguments that are present at the start of a relationship are likely to remain salient all the way through. Instead of focusing on those sources of conflict, one's goal should be to enhance the 80 percent. Work on making the relationship as positive as possible, and let the rest go. If you find yourself in a relationship with a ratio slanted toward the negative, it may not be the healthiest. Try to make things work for a period of time, but recognize that expecting a partner to change is not the wisest strategy. If that's where you find yourself, it might be time to move on.

3. You wish you were home alone.

You’re in a bad relationship when you find yourself wishing, too often, that your partner wasn't around. You start to realize that life might be easier and happier without them. When you’re in each other’s presence, things are tense, arguments ensue, and you feel unhappy. Waking up each morning is dreadful, because they’re still there. Don’t stay in a relationship just because you think you won’t find anyone better; being on your own is better. It takes courage to admit that a relationship has turned sour, but you’d be surprised at how strong and happy you can be on your own.

Stepping Away

Life is too short to waste time on someone who is not right for you. Your well-being is intricately connected to your partner: When the relationship is great, you’re great. But when it’s not going well, it adversely affects you in a significant way. Every relationship experiences tough times, and it’s worth working on issues to see if things will improve. But when your happiness and well-being are affected for months or even years, or your partner is not helping to make things better — despite repeated requests — it may be time to go.

References

Gagné, F. M., & Lydon, J. E. (2004). Bias and Accuracy in Close Relationships: An Integrative Review. Personality And Social Psychology Review, 8(4), 322-338. doi:10.1207/s15327957pspr0804_1

Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. W. (1992). Marital processes predictive of later dissolution: Behavior, physiology, and health. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 63(2), 221-233. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.63.2.221

Holmes, J. G. (2004). The Benefits of Abstract Functional Analysis in Theory Construction: The Case of Interdependence Theory. Personality And Social Psychology Review, 8(2), 146-155. doi:10.1207/s15327957pspr0802_8

Kafetsios, K., & Nezlek, J. B. (2002). Attachment styles in everyday social interaction. European Journal Of Social Psychology, 32(5), 719-735. doi:10.1002/ejsp.130

MacDonald, T., & Ross, M. (1999). Assessing the Accuracy of Predictions about Dating Relationships: How and Why Do Lovers’ Predictions Differ from those Made by Observers? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25(11), 1417-1429.

Rusbult, C. E., Agnew, C. R., & Arriaga, X. B. (2012). The investment model of commitment processes. In P. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, E. T. Higgins, P. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, E. T. Higgins (Eds.) , Handbook of theories of social psychology, Vol. 2 (pp. 218-231). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd. doi:10.4135/9781446249222.n37

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