Should You Leave Someone That You Love?

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated July 9, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Deciding when to end a relationship can be the hardest part of leaving someone you still love. Whether you think it might be healthier to part ways or believe that the relationship is no longer serving you, it is possible to love someone and still decide to break up with someone. In the case of an unhealthy relationship, it may be the safest option. Although it can be hard, validating your emotions and thoughts through this time may be beneficial in helping you get through it.

If you need time to decide, consider having an honest conversation with yourself by asking a few key questions to determine the motive behind your desire. Allow yourself to take a break and dig deep to consider everything carefully. When you are ready to make a choice and have a face-to-face conversation with your partner, you may feel more confident that it is the right decision for you.

Questions to ask yourself before leaving a relationship

Consider the following questions when deciding whether to leave someone you did or still do, care deeply for.

Is this relationship fulfilling you?

In a healthy relationship, it's essential for both you and your partner to be mindful of each other's needs and desires, whether emotional or physical. Knowing whether your needs are fulfilled in your relationship can require you to dig deep and analyze your level of happiness and contentment. Consider if something is missing that feels like a dealbreaker to you. For example, some couples may feel that they have an unfulfilling relationship due to the following:

  • A lack of physical touch or sexual desire
  • A lack of loving words or language (Ex: saying "I love you")
  • A lack of thoughtful gestures
  • A difference in childrearing ideals or the desire for a family
  • A difference in core values or beliefs
  • A lack of time spent together, leading to a sense of disconnection
  • Feeling a growing need for emotional space from each other
  • Frequent arguments that cause pain and frustration

If you can point to specific things that need work in your relationship, consider whether those are things that may change. If you feel that the relationship can change, decide whether you're willing to wait the amount of time it may take for change to happen. These questions can be extremely difficult, but it may be beneficial to ask yourself: 

  • Do I want to try to make things work out?  
  • Can I commit to the time and effort it takes to fix things in my relationship? 
  • Can I admit to areas in my relationship where I may be contributing to difficulties? 
  • Do I believe my needs are something the person I love would be willing to adapt to? 
  • Do the positive aspects of my relationship outweigh the negatives for me? 

If you answered yes to these questions, it might be worth having a conversation about improving your relationship instead of ending things. If you're still unsure, discussing your concerns with a professional help, like a relationship therapist, may be helpful. 

Is there a future in this relationship?

Knowing whether you see a future with the person you love may help you decide whether you want to stay with them or consider breaking up with someone. Although it can be good to focus on the present, the present can also give clues about the future. For example, if you have been arguing with your partner every day for months, it may indicate that conflict could continue into the coming months.

Individual and interpersonal growth is often an aspect that couples value in a romantic relationship. Ask yourself if there are any goals that you and your best friend have together. Do you hope to get married someday? Do you want a family? Can you imagine yourself feeling happy growing old with this person? Seeing a future with your partner may indicate a desire for the relationship to continue.

Also, consider whether your goals for the future align with your partner's. For instance, if they want to become a parent but you don't ever want a family, you may realize that there are too many incompatibilities for the relationship to continue.

It's normal if you're unsure what you want in your future, but try to be honest and communicative with your partner about this fact. 

Am I afraid of being alone?

Sometimes, our own relationships are prolonged out of fear of the alternative: Being alone. If fear is the only factor keeping you in your relationship, it may be time to dig deeper into these concerns. You might take a break to process these fears and gain a different perspective.

Although it can feel scary to confront being alone, staying in a relationship that is unfulfilling or not right for you can damage your emotional well-being. If you abandon your needs to make the relationship work, it may cause more harm than good.

Being alone can be fulfilling. Even with a romantic partner, it is possible to feel lonely. Analyze your fears about being alone and discover the truth about what might be causing them. Are you afraid of your thoughts? Boredom? Being unloved? There may be an underlying cause to work on before leaving someone you love.

Being alone might also teach you more about yourself. When you're on your own, you could have more time to focus on your hobbies, interests, and desires outside your relationship. Growing awareness of your needs may even prepare you for future romantic relationships. Studies show that gaining self-love can improve interpersonal relationships.

Deciding to move on: What now?

You may feel that separating is the healthiest option for your personal growth and happiness. In this case, moving on can be a process that takes an emotional toll. However, it is possible to end things with someone you love. Studies show that those who choose to move on from a relationship that no longer serves them often find satisfaction and resolution.

Although it can feel freeing to make the best choice for your life satisfaction, the ending of a relationship can still cause heartache, grief, and hurt feelings. Moving away from the previous relationship cycle and starting a new course can be a significant transition. Consider reaching out for help from loved ones or a support group.

Seeking support

Turning to an online or in-person counselor for help can be a convenient way to process breaking up with someone you love. They may also be able to assist you with feelings of grief or sadness if you decide to leave the relationship.

If you're interested in knowing more about how therapy can help you, science has some answers. Research has found that one of the best ways to move on after a breakup is to talk about it with a friend or a professional. That's where therapy can come in. Online therapy is also an effective medium for this because research has shown that most types of talk therapy, depending on the issue being addressed, are just as effective online as traditional therapy.

Online therapy platforms such as BetterHelp may allow you to find support from anywhere you have a safe, reliable internet connection, such as your home. Studies show that many people feel more comfortable in their homes, which can be a benefit of online therapy for someone going through a difficult transition or facing a job opportunity that requires relocation.

Read below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors from those who have experienced similar issues.

Therapist reviews

"I started therapy with John in one of the most difficult moments of my life. At my lowest, John pulled me back up with his patience, kindness, and wise advice. I can't even picture what my life would have looked like had I not met him. John counseled me through a tough breakup, family issues, setting boundaries, self-esteem issues, crippling paranoia and anxiety, friendship issues, dealing with events from my past, and addressing questions regarding my faith that I've been too afraid to ask. John is very responsive, and always there to provide advice. I find him to be an excellent listener, a person who does not judge people but takes them as they are and tries to help them mend themselves. I find John to be very intelligent, well-read and a person who can see beyond cultural differences. He is a superb life coach, and a very supportive person all around. After working with him for 6 months, I saw changes in my life I never thought possible. I find myself having more moments of gratefulness and heart-warming laughs, I am getting so much better at saying "no" whenever I feel my limits being pushed, and I'm surprised at how I learned to enjoy my own company and like the things I do. I wholeheartedly believe John has been a blessing in my life. I would recommend him to anyone who needs guidance in their life. As I learned from John, things can get better, no matter how impossible it seems, and it is in our power to make them so." Read more on John Moore.

"Meeting with Jacquelyn has been wonderfully helpful throughout the ups and downs of 2020 and she has been very helpful in guiding and encouraging me to better myself during this difficult time, during which I have also been recovering from substance abuse and a recent breakup. I am doing a lot better than I have in a good while and she has definitely been a big part of that! Thanks!" Read more on Jacquelyn Golden Lane.


Deciding that you might need to leave someone you love can be complex. You might not know what to expect, and you don’t have to do it alone. Friends, family, or online therapy may be helpful support methods during this time. If your relationship is taking a toll on your mental health, consider taking the first step to seek professional help today. 
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