Moving on can be challenging in romantic or intimate relationships, as they're often built on closeness and shared feelings over long periods. However, if you and your partner want different things that conflict with staying together, it might be time to acknowledge that moving on is the wisest course of action. Before moving on, it may help to consider what you want, how you'd like to approach things, and how to make any necessary changes. This guide explores the topic of moving on and touches on resources like online therapy that might help you cope with and eventually accept the situation you’re facing.
Is It Time To Move On?
How To Decide What You Want
Many people generally believe they know what they want, but this belief might not be so straightforward. In relationships, it can sometimes be easier to see what you don't want than to recognize what you do want. You may need to learn, grow, explore, and make mistakes at times before you know what you want. There's nothing wrong with this; it's a natural part of being human.
It's okay to not be 100% sure about what you want. That certainty often takes time and life experience – you can get there, and you deserve enough time to figure it out.
Considering what you want can help you identify if it's time to move on from your relationship or if you should try sticking it out. Knowing if you both want different things may make this transition easier. If this process is challenging, speaking with a therapist might help.
Thinking Things Through
Deciding if it's time to move on might be easier if you imagine what your life might look like without this relationship. Would you be happier? Freer? Healthier? More balanced? Less stressed? If any of these apply, consider why – what about your current relationship prevents you from having those feelings?
Remember, human relationships are complex and varied, but many cultural norms present for romantic relationships are monogamous, heterosexual, and often between partners of nearly the same age. It's okay if those norms aren't what you want or need to be happy – you don't have to do what's considered average or typical.
If you developed a clear picture of your non-negotiables in a relationship before you started dating your partner, you might also want to consider these. For example, did you begin your relationship with strong feelings about faith, traditions, pet ownership, health, wellness, travel, pastimes, finances, personality traits, kids, marriage, or overall priorities? You may benefit from reevaluating that list or making one if you haven't already.
This process might help you decide if your non-negotiables fall by the wayside in this current relationship. If so, this might give you direction as you consider what needs to change for you to feel happier and more fulfilled.
If your non-negotiables are different from your partner’s needs in a way you cannot reconcile, perhaps it's time to say goodbye. This doesn't mean either of you is "wrong," simply that you want different things. Everyone's non-negotiables list is personal and revisiting yours might leave you more prepared for a future relationship that's a healthier match.
Seeing The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
No matter who you are or what you may be going through, understand that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you need to move on from a relationship because you want different things or are unhappy, it doesn't mean there won't be other relationships down the road.
You may feel sad or discouraged if it's time to move on but focusing on what you want can allow you to experience healthier, more fulfilling relationships that are conducive to your growth. Plus, your partner will have the potential for this as well.
Communicate With The Other Person
When you know in your heart that it's time to move on, it's likely time to convey that to the other person in the relationship. This can be a challenging and painful experience. If your partner has also concluded that the relationship has run its course, the decision to part ways may be mutual. However, whether the decision is mutual or not, you may still experience some sadness or somberness. This is normal.
Often, when a person is told a relationship has run its course, they can begin to move on, especially if the parties want different things out of life. However, there are some instances where people do not take these conversations as well. They may become angry or extremely emotional.
If you have concerns about how the other person might react when you tell them it's time for you to move on, consider communicating with them from a distance. This might mean talking on the phone, via email, or texting.
What To Do Post-Breakup
After a breakup, you might want to occupy your time as you adjust to not being with your former partner. These steps may make this time in your life easier:
- Find a new hobby: Investing time into a hobby can help pass the time while you wait to heal and feel more peace about the situation.
- Lean on your loved ones: A solid support system might help you navigate post-breakup emotions. Don't be afraid to reach out to a loved one when you need extra support.
- Write it down: Having an outlet to explore your emotions may help you decompress and heal. Try writing your feelings in a journal.
- Talk to a therapist: Therapy provides an unbiased, helpful party you can talk to and turn to for support. Your therapist can help you process your emotions and heal from a breakup. With online therapy, it's often easier to find time for your sessions without interrupting your schedule.
Online Therapy With BetterHelp
Knowing when it’s time to move on can be difficult to determine, particularly when your emotions are involved. Talking with a mental health professional through an online service like BetterHelp may give you more clarity. You can process your situation objectively, without judgment. At BetterHelp, you’ll be matched with a licensed therapist based on your needs and preferences. You can schedule appointments via in-app messaging, video calls, or phone calls on your time from the comfort of your home.
Online therapy can be a viable tool for managing different kinds of mental health concerns and disorders. One study found that an online-based therapeutic intervention successfully reduced participants’ symptoms of anxiety and depression. Further, researchers concluded that the online intervention was just as effective as traditional, face-to-face sessions.
Below, you'll find reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar situations.
"I really enjoyed my sessions with Dr. Anstadt. He helped me see how one issue was affecting multiple aspects of my life. He has greatly improve[d] my relationships with the people I'm closest to and even the way I approach work. I have seen a huge difference in my relationships already, and I have several tools to help me manage the issues I started seeking therapy for. I cannot express how thankful I am to Dr. I Anstadt!"
"Pamela has helped me become the person who I wanted to be after my breakup. She helped me see the light in the dark, and showed me that who I am is enough."
Regardless of where your current relationship is, you deserve a healthy relationship that brings mutual satisfaction. If you're struggling with the decision to end a relationship or the fallout of your partner's decision to end things, you're not alone. One study found that 36.5% experienced a breakup of respondents had experienced a breakup in the last 20 months and that 43% of separations resulted in moderate distress or a decline in life satisfaction. You can cope with the distress you’re experiencing in online therapy, which can be a beneficial tool as you try to move forward in life and your romantic relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do You Know When It's Time To Move On?
Even when a relationship isn’t going well, we often want to cling to it. However, not knowing when to let go is dangerous, especially if the relationship is harming your physical or emotional well-being. It's difficult to move on, but here are a few signs that it may be time.
- Every good memory you have of the person is in the past. You are trying to stick with them in hopes of reclaiming positive feelings and experiences that have fallen away. If everything in the relationship that is good is only in the past, it may be time to move on.
- You know it's time to move on when it's a one-sided relationship. When you feel like you put in all the effort and get nothing in return, then it's time for you to look somewhere else. You shouldn't be the person who has to initiate all conversations, go up to see them, and put in every effort while the other person doesn't seem to have any interest.
- It may be time to move on if the relationship is no longer passionate. Natural human sexuality indicates that most sexual behavior decreases over time, but your sex life and sexual desire for a person should not change dramatically in a short period. See a sex therapist if there's another sexual health reason for the lack of sex.
- You are always making excuses for this person. They can be downright mean and selfish, but you keep rationalizing why they said something unkind or did something hurtful. If you always feel like have to excuse their behavior and words, then you deserve to move on and be happier without them.
- No amount of effort to fix the problems has helped. You may have gone to couples or sex therapist and got nowhere. Maybe you asked them to change, but they turned around and demanded you change. Perhaps you tried to get your partner to explore their sexuality with you and try new things, and that didn't work out.
These are just a few reasons to move on. If your mental, physical, and sexual health feel drained by a partner, then maybe you should call it quits.
How Do You Accept A Relationship Is Over?
The end of a relationship often comes with feelings of sadness, anger, and even grief. Even if one or both of you saw a breakup coming, you may still find it difficult to accept at times. Here are some ways to help.
- First, remember that your grief is valid. Allow yourself some time to cry or healthily process your emotions. You deserve to talk about it and find peace.
- With that said, do your best to take a break from places that can remind you of the relationship. Maybe take a breather from social media. Social media can feed negative emotions following a breakup, especially if you were active on each other’s accounts.
- Feel free to get out and have fun on your own—with friends, with casual dates, or just with yourself. Do something that makes you happy and allows you to feel free.
- Don't be afraid to talk to someone about how you feel in the relationship. It can be very helpful to speak with close friends or family, a faith leader or mentor, or a licensed therapist about how you feel.
- Avoid anything that triggers sadness over your relationship. You can take time to get used to those triggers later on, but there’s no need to torture yourself by reminding yourself of the relationship while it’s still fresh.
- If you do have moments of weakness or doubt over the breakup, realize that's okay. You are allowed to have negative emotions and question yourself from time to time, no matter how strong you are. It doesn’t mean you were wrong in ending things, either.
How Do You Know When A Partner Has Moved On?
When a romantic partner has moved on, some signs are clearer than others:
- Lack of contact. Someone who keeps bothering you after you've broken up has not moved on yet, but someone who doesn't bother you may have.
- Ease of casual conversation. Following an amicable or mutual breakup, an ex may still talk to you as a friend or colleague, but they feel comfortable around you.
- A new strong relationship. After a breakup, some people pursue a “rebound” relationship that may seem quick or flighty to avoid processing complex feelings about the breakup. However, if an ex enters a relationship that seems more serious and long-term, then they have likely moved on.
How Do You Move On While Still In A Relationship?
Even if you haven’t ended things yet, you may be able to tell that a romantic relationship is not going to persist much longer. You might still have feelings for your partner while realizing that things aren’t working out, and you might want to prepare yourself for moving on. These are healthy feelings that will help you cope with the changes ahead. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare:
- Distance yourself from your partner slowly. If you live with them, this can be a bit more difficult to do. If you do still love them, the absence may make you grow fonder, but if you don't, then you may find it much easier to end things off.
- Save up some money. Even if you don't live with your partner, having some extra money to keep yourself independent is a good idea.
- If you don't feel intimate, don't express intimacy. Avoid expressions of sex, love, or anything similar. Remember that they have no right to expect sex or other romantic expressions from you.
- Seek out a therapist. A mental health professional can help you with moving on from a relationship, and if you have any remaining sexual desire for this person, a sex therapist can help you move on.
What Are The Signs Your Relationship Is Over?
The end of a romantic relationship often has several indicators:
- You find yourselves focusing on the negative with one another. Positivity is in the past.
- You don't talk as much with each other. Conversations are bland, and they may feel forced.
- You used to have a good sex life, but now you don't. Physical intimacy and sexual desire may have decreased, and the passion just isn't there.
- The relationship only persists out of a financial or societal obligation or exists via nostalgia.
- You've tried fixing the relationship with the help of a licensed therapist, and it did not work.
Can You Fall Back In Love?
It is certainly possible to fall back in love sometime after the end of a relationship, especially if it ended mutually or due to circumstances beyond your control, like graduating from school or moving away for a job. Being apart gives each party opportunities to grow as individuals, to forgive if needed, and to remember what they loved about each other. If you are considering getting back together with someone or find yourself falling back in love, it is often a good idea to talk the relationship through with a neutral party first, like a close friend or a therapist.
How Do You Let Go Of Someone You Love?
Letting go of someone you love can be a challenge. Maybe you love them, and they don't love you back, or perhaps the relationship is just toxic. Either way, moving on can be difficult. Here are a few ways to do so.
- Get it over with. Block them on all social media and cut off all contact. Ghosting sounds cold, but it's sometimes necessary for your mental health, especially if someone has treated you unkindly, and you can tell them beforehand if you feel bad about ghosting.
- Seek out support. Moving on from a relationship can take over your thoughts and mess with your self-esteem. Practicing mindfulness or working with a licensed therapist can help you to stay in the present and avoid letting certain thoughts or habits take over your mind.
- Learn your triggers. Avoid places that remind you of this person. If you used to frequent a specific coffee shop together, perhaps get your coffee from somewhere else for a while.
- Embrace the advantages of solo living. While searching for a rebound may not be the best move, you should try to live your best life without them around. Feel free to date around as you figure out what you truly want.
- Trust your instincts. You can’t make someone change their mind about you or the value of your relationship, but you can keep them from having any control over how you feel. A romantic partnership shouldn’t feel one-sided or unsafe. If you have felt stretched too thin, underappreciated, or disrespected, you have the right to leave. You deserve love, not dismissal or disregard.
Do Guys Hurt After A Breakup?
It’s a common stereotype that men, especially straight men, don’t feel or show emotions during or after a breakup—or worse, that they only react to manipulate the feelings of an ex. However, this is a misconception that minimizes and often stigmatizes men’s feelings. If you are ending a relationship with a man, he will likely have an emotional response, whether he shows it or not.
Societal stigmas have discouraged men from crying or showing emotions other than anger and confidence. An unfortunate consequence of these stigmas is that many men feel they have nowhere to turn when they do experience emotional upheaval—that their loved ones won’t listen or will reject them for perceptions of being weak or “unmanly.”
Please know that many guys do hurt after a relationship ends, and if a guy you know has broken up with their significant other, you can make a difference by being there for them, offering a listening ear, and providing a safe place for them to process their emotions without judgment. A man going through these complicated emotions within the context of society’s stereotypes may also benefit from one-on-one talk therapy with a mental health professional.
What To Do If They’re Not Texting?
Text messaging has made relationships much more complicated. Many of us expect instant replies, but we also want to give the benefit of the doubt. Try to remind yourself that if someone hasn't texted you back, they might be busy at work, charging their phone, spending time with family, sleeping, or just unable to reply at the moment.
If your partner doesn't text you back, don't spam them with multiple messages, and don’t assume they’re doing the worst. Instead, send a follow-up text a day later. If they still aren't replying, they may have ghosted your messages. Ghosting can hurt, but in the end, it is a good thing to know that someone’s communication skills were not a good fit. You deserve a healthy relationship with someone who doesn’t ghost you.
Does Moving On Mean Finding Someone New?
Moving on from a relationship means that the person you were in a relationship with is no longer in the forefront of your mind, and you're not letting the relationship control your choices.
Some people may think that when a person is in a new relationship, that means they've moved on. However, that's not always the case. You may be in a “rebound” relationship—quickly matching up with someone else to clear your mind of the relationship that just ended—or dating someone because of how similar they are to your previous partner. You do not need to find someone new to move on. You might prefer to remain single, for a short time or a longer period, and that is perfectly fine.
How Do You Know When You Don't Love Someone Anymore?
When you don't love someone anymore, the signs can differ quite a bit, but there are some common signs, such as:
- You just feel distant from that person. You might not answer them right away, or you feel bored or disconnected from conversations with them.
- If you receive important news—good or bad—you don’t want to talk about it with them right away.
- You don't feel any sexual arousal or a drive for sex from them. A person's sexual drive can change over time, but if it's dipped significantly, it may be a reason for you to question your relationship, or at least see a sex therapist for any sexual health questions.
- You aren't as intimate as you used to be. The chemistry just isn't there anymore, and when you two are together, you're not interested in each other’s lives and thoughts.
- You are fighting more and making less of an effort to fix any disagreements you may have.
- You feel like you're only in the relationship for finances, children, or something else external.
What Is A Toxic Relationship?
A toxic relationship is emotionally and physically draining. The three main aspects of a toxic relationship include the following:
- Insecurity. The toxic person may be easily jealous in the relationship, or they may have unrelated insecurity they put on their partner, like criticizing a partner’s appearance because they are insecure about their own appearance.
- Self-centeredness. The toxic person makes everything about them. Your feelings may be disregarded or deemphasized, and the toxic person never apologizes.
- Control. The toxic person will attempt to be dominant and control the other person’s actions. Whether it shows up in taking charge of finances or dictating what other friendships are allowed, control is always a toxic trait. “Gaslighting,” or manipulating the thoughts of a partner, is also a form of control.
Some signs of a toxic relationship can be caused by both parties. For example, if the two of you are keeping a relationship “scorecard” by rehashing old grievances in arguments, that's toxic. If either of you makes fun of the other in ways that are hurtful or backhanded, especially with regard to someone’s identity or passions, the relationship may be toxic.
What Are Good Reasons To End A Relationship?
There are many good reasons to end a relationship. Here are a few:
- Your partner lies consistently. Just about everyone has lied at some point, and sometimes gentle “white lies,” like telling a partner their hair looks great even if it objectively doesn’t, can defend feelings within a relationship. However, if your partner keeps things from you or doesn’t tell the truth when it matters, then that dishonesty can be a dealbreaker.
- If your sex life together is not meeting one partner’s needs and one of you remains unsatisfied, then you may need to reevaluate it together or call the relationship quits. It might also be that your sexual identities are incompatible (for example, if one of you is asexual), or that one of you is experiencing a sexual disorder; these differences are no one’s fault, and healthy conversation and professional support can go a long way toward finding a solution. However, if one person is not committed to making a necessary change, then the incompatibility might be too severe for the relationship to endure.
- Your life goals conflict. In a healthy relationship, partners can achieve a goal together, or their goals can exist in harmony. However, if you have markedly different life goals, this can be a bit of a problem. Don’t let your partner’s goals keep you from pursuing yours as well; if you cannot find a way to pursue them together, then you may have to pursue them separately.
- There's no emotional intimacy in the relationship. If all passion and chemistry seem to have vanished, and efforts on both your parts make no difference, then maybe it’s time to move on.
- Any form of abuse (physical, emotional, financial, neglect) is an immediate reason to end things.
- Any efforts to improve the relationship are only made by one party. If you are alone in trying to save the relationship, then your energy may be better spent on your own.
When Should You Give Up On A Relationship?
Many goals in life require the mantra of “never giving up,” and that’s for good reason; many people achieve their dreams through persistence and hard work. However, romantic relationships are different because the people in them may have different goals. If you and your partner have tried your hardest to make your relationship work—through constructive means like individual or couples therapy, a trial separation, and finding different ways to show your feelings—then it might be time to let the relationship go. This unfortunate conclusion is particularly true if you have made every effort and your partner has not. Giving up on a relationship is not a failure; it is simply the recognition that you are not receiving what you need and deserve in a relationship with this person.
How Do You Know If Your Ex Will Come Back?
If you've had a breakup, it can sometimes be temporary. Sometimes, your ex just needs space and will eventually make amends. Here are some positive indicators that you haven’t said goodbye forever:
- Your breakup was amicable. There was no big fight, and both parties agreed to it. You might have broken up due to circumstances beyond your control, like one partner moving away.
- You remain in contact with each other via texting, calls, emails, or social media.
- They haven't erased any photos of you off their social media. They may not have even described themselves as single yet.
- They're still talking about you with mutual friends.
If you and your ex have one or more of these indicators, and you’re interested in rekindling the relationship, then you might want to reach out, after a bit of time has passed, to see if the feeling is mutual.
How Do You Know If Your Ex Is Still In Love With You?
Even after a bitter breakup, romantic feelings can remain. Here are some ways to tell if an ex might still be in love with you.
- They maintain contact through text messages or social media, asking how you're doing.
- They are still mentioning you positively to their friends and family.
- They keep trying to “hook up” with you. The desire for continuing a sexual relationship can often just be lust, but sometimes it's a sign of love, too.
- Your ex begins a “rebound” relationship with someone who looks or acts just like you. They may even try to make you jealous of this new relationship.
These are just a few signs. Keep in mind that the first two are usually benign, but pressures to “hook up” or attempts to make you jealous are not necessarily indicators of an emotionally healthy partner. If you think that your ex is still in love with you and you're interested, you may want to rekindle the relationship. However, if you have no interest, you may want to keep your distance.
Can Love Fade Away And Then Come Back?
Just as you can reconnect with an old friend, or rediscover old hobbies you've abandoned, your love for someone can come back even after fading away. Sometimes, this is due to the adage that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”—in other words, being apart from someone allows you to see their positive qualities or your feelings for them more clearly. Other times, it may be because you've forgiven someone for a transgression and still retain good memories from your time together.
Keep in mind that feelings of attraction can return even for someone who was a negative or destructive influence in your life. If this is the case for you, try to give yourself space to think things through before reconnecting with that person. An objective person like a therapist can be invaluable in processing this situation.
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