7 signs your relationship simply isn’t working (and it’s time to move on)

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Sometimes love feels like a puzzle where the pieces just won’t fit, no matter how hard you try. 

I’ve been there, pouring my energy into a relationship that never seemed to click. 

My ex wasn’t a bad person, but we were like oil and water — no matter how much we stirred, we always separated in the end. 

The truth? Some signs can’t be ignored, and realizing them may just be your first step to finding a relationship that genuinely enriches your life. 

In this article, I’ll share 7 signs that indicate your relationship might not be working and why it could be time to move on.

1) Constant arguments

We’ve all heard that a little bit of conflict is normal — even healthy — in a relationship. It’s through disagreements that we learn more about our partner, and indeed, ourselves. 

But there’s a huge difference between constructive conflict and incessant arguing

In my relationship with my ex, it felt like we were always on edge, waiting for the next argument to erupt. Arguments turned from being isolated incidents into an everyday routine.

These constant disputes aren’t just mentally exhausting; they also chip away at the emotional foundation of your relationship

The air grows thick with tension, making even simple conversations feel like navigating a minefield.

You might think, as I did, that this ongoing friction is just a phase. But the reality is, if neither of you can find a way to resolve conflicts in a healthy, respectful manner, then maybe you’re not as compatible as you once thought. 

In a thriving relationship, communication should be a bridge, not a barrier. When arguments become the norm, it might be a sign that the bridge is collapsing, and it could be time to move on.

2) Lack of trust

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. Without it, you’re building on shaky ground. 

I learned this lesson the hard way when I sensed my ex’s jealousy over my love for Latin dancing. 

I felt his discomfort each time I went out dancing, even though there was nothing for him to worry about. Eventually, I gave it up to ease his insecurities, but at the cost of losing a piece of myself.

Lack of trust manifests in various other ways; it’s not just the big, glaring issues but also the subtle, insidious ones. 

Perhaps your partner feels the need to scroll through your text messages or insists on tracking your location. These behaviors indicate a fundamental mistrust that taints the relationship. 

If you find yourself modifying your behavior or like me, giving up things you love to appease your partner’s insecurities, it’s a glaring red flag. 

Trust is a two-way street, and it’s unfair for one person to carry the burden of always proving themselves. 

3) Emotional or physical abuse

First and foremost, let me say that I’m grateful I never had to endure abuse in my relationship with my ex. 

However, I’ve known people who weren’t so fortunate, and it’s heart-wrenching to see. There is absolutely no room for emotional or physical abuse in a relationship that aims to be happy and loving.

Abuse isn’t always as overt as a raised hand or a shouted insult; it can be as subtle as manipulative comments that erode your self-esteem over time. 

Regardless of its form, abuse is a violation of personal boundaries and human dignity.

The thing about abuse is that it’s not just damaging to the victim; it’s a sign of deep-rooted issues within the perpetrator. 

Sometimes, it’s easier to justify or ignore these actions, especially when you love the person causing the harm. But love should never be the reason to tolerate mistreatment.

If you find yourself in an abusive situation, seek help immediately. And remember, there is no “learning curve” or “adjustment period” for abuse; it’s a deal-breaker, full stop. 

Your emotional and physical well-being should always be your priority. If your relationship threatens either, it’s a sign — loud and clear — that it’s time to move on.

4) No shared goals or values

It’s funny how you can be so close to someone and yet realize that your paths are headed in completely opposite directions. 

My ex was content with climbing the corporate ladder, and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. 

But for me, my dreams were a bit different. I longed for a life of freedom, unshackled by a 9-to-5 job or tied to a specific location. 

The tricky thing about love is that it can make you overlook these differences, at least for a while. But sooner or later, they catch up with you. 

You start to realize that for both of you to pursue your individual dreams, something’s got to give. One of you will have to make a sacrifice, and that almost always leads to resentment or unhappiness down the line.

This isn’t about one person’s goals being better or more “right” than the other’s. It’s about compatibility in the long term. 

So if you find that your core values and aspirations are misaligned, it might be an uncomfortable truth to face, but it’s also a clear sign that it’s time to reevaluate the relationship.

5) Lack of communication

Let’s get something straight — communication is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned. 

However, the willingness to learn is where the rubber meets the road. If your partner isn’t putting in the effort to communicate, or worse, flat-out refuses to, you’re in for a rocky ride.

Sure, no one comes into a relationship as a perfect communicator. I get it, talking about feelings or tough issues isn’t easy. But it’s essential for a healthy relationship. 

You should both be able to express your thoughts, your worries, and even your dreams without fear of judgment or rejection.

When one person clams up or shuts down, the relationship suffers. You’re left guessing what they’re thinking, or why they acted a certain way. 

The end result? Frustration, misunderstandings, and more arguments than necessary.

I’ll say it plainly: a relationship can’t be happy or healthy without good communication. If your conversations are more like monologues, or worse, a game of 20 questions, your communication styles don’t seem to be compatible.

6) Lack of support

Disagreements are a part of life. It’s entirely normal to have differing opinions or even values from your partner. 

But when the day is done, your partner should be your biggest cheerleader, not your most vocal critic.

Think about it: the world is tough enough as it is. Your relationship should be a safe haven where you both find encouragement and validation, not another battlefield where you have to defend your choices or yourself. 

It was hard for me to admit, but I noticed my ex wasn’t genuinely supportive of my ambitions and even some small things that brought me joy.

If you don’t have each other’s backs, what’s the point? A relationship isn’t just about companionship; it’s about teamwork and mutual upliftment. 

If you aren’t able to give each other that, it sounds like you don’t agree with their fundamental values and goals. And as you can’t change who a person is, it’s likely you’re not a good match. 

7) You feel like you can’t be yourself

In a healthy, loving relationship, you should feel free to be yourself — your truest, most authentic self. 

But what happens when you feel like you have to wear a mask around the person you love?

I remember constantly feeling on edge, concerned about saying or doing the wrong thing that might displease my ex. 

Part of this reason were the constant arguments that I mentioned above — I became scared of setting off the next one. 

But also, I realized I felt like I needed to be someone else in order to make him like me.

I found myself constantly worrying that I didn’t look good enough, or act classy enough, or any one of 146 different versions of “not enough”.

And let me tell you, it’s exhausting. The strain of keeping up a facade is a burden no one should bear, especially in a relationship that’s supposed to bring joy and comfort.

When you can’t be yourself in your own relationship, it feels as though you’re a guest in your own life. The person who should be most excited about who you genuinely are — flaws and all — becomes the person you’re most afraid to be yourself around. 

It’s incredibly liberating to be accepted for who you are. If you’re hiding your true self, you’re not only doing a disservice to your partner but also, most crucially, to yourself. 

Love yourself enough to choose a better future

Sometimes love isn’t enough to sustain a relationship, and that’s okay. What’s important is recognizing when it’s time to move on, as difficult as that decision may be. 

From constant arguments to a lack of support, these signs are your soul’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. 

Trust that you deserve more. As painful as my own experience was, it taught me invaluable lessons about what I truly need in a relationship

And the most crucial lesson of all? Loving yourself means knowing when to walk away, so you can open the door to a love that truly nourishes your soul.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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