Wanting Different Things: Accepting When It’s Time To Move On

By Mary Elizabeth Dean|Updated August 2, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dawn Brown, LPC

In life, moving on is not always an easy feat. This is especially true for romantic or intimate relationships, particularly when those relationships have been built on closeness and shared feelings over a long period of time. However, if you and your partner want very different things out of life, then it might be time to acknowledge that moving on is the best course of action. Before moving on, it may help to think through how you should approach things and how you should go about making the necessary changes. Online therapy services can help you with this.

In all honesty, moving on from a relationship is rarely a smooth course. There is a possibility that you or the other person may get hurt; however, not moving on and remaining in incompatible relationships can generate even more hurt and pain in the long run. It's simply not worth it. When it's time to move on, it's time, and deciding what you want is the first step. From there, you can make changes for the better and improve your life immensely. If you feel like you need to walk away, but you don't know how to, this article will help you get started.

We all go through relationship losses throughout our lives. Although a breakup, separation, divorce, or dissolution can be a very difficult and painful experience, it is not impossible. If you are considering or preparing to end a relationship, (or are thinking, "my wife doesn't love me anymore" or even wondering about ways to get revenge on your ex) you are not alone, and you can get through this time with the right support. By considering the following steps and actions, you can make the transition much easier.

Decide What You Want

Most people generally believe that they know what they want. However, this belief isn't as straightforward as many people think. When it comes to relationships, it can sometimes be easier to know what you don't want than to recognize what you do want. Sometimes, people have to be able to learn, grow, explore, and make mistakes before they can truly learn what they want. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this; it's simply a natural part of being human. Never feel bad because you aren't 100-percent sure of what you want. That certainty requires time and life experience. You will get there, and you deserve to take time to figure it out.

Moving On Is Not Easy. But Accepting How Things Are Is The Best Way To Go

Making Changes for the Better

Allow yourself to imagine what your life might look like without this relationship as part of it. Would you be happier? Freer? Healthier? More balanced? Less stressed? If any of these apply, then ask yourself why. What about your current relationship is preventing you from having those feelings?

Bear in mind that human relationships are incredibly complex and varied, but many cultural norms present romantic relationships are monogamous, heterosexual, and often between partners of nearly the exact same age. Those might not be boxes that you want to check in order to be happy, and that doesn’t mean you are wrong. It just means that our society is evolving, and perhaps what’s considered average or typical hasn’t caught up to you yet.

Before you started dating your current partner, hopefully you developed a clear picture of your own non-negotiables in the relationship, even if you were just casually dating. You might have come into a relationship with strong feelings about faith traditions, pet ownership, health and wellness, travel and pastimes, finances, terms of endearment, personality traits, kids, marriage, priorities in the world, and more. Take the time now to reevaluate that list—or to make one, if you haven’t already—and see if any of your non-negotiables are falling by the wayside in this current relationship. If so, then you already have an idea of what needs to change in order for you to feel happier and more fulfilled.

If your non-negotiables are different than your partner’s in a way that cannot be reconciled, then it might be time to say goodbye. This doesn’t mean that either of you is “wrong,” but simply that you want different things. Everyone’s non-negotiables list is unique, and revisiting yours will leave you better prepared for a future relationship that is more rewarding. Being on the same page, even just being able to practice compromise, or understanding each other's commitment to specific goals are important. In many cases, suddenly it might not make sense to stay together if a lot is different in terms of life views.

Seeing The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

No matter who you are or what you may be going through, it's important to understand that there is, and always will be, a light at the end of the tunnel. Just because you have to move on from a relationship because you want different things or are unhappy doesn't mean that there won't be other relationships down the road. Be careful with the stories you tell yourself, and take any chance you can to remember and pay attention to what is important to you. Newsletter, posts, or another site can help you remember what story you want to be writing, and what name you want to give to yourself and even your parents or future generations.

You may feel sad or discouraged at this period in your life, but by moving on, you're allowing yourself to experience even better relationships that are healthier, more fulfilling, and conducive to your growth as an individual. Each relationship has the potential to shape you for the future as a stronger, wiser, better version of yourself.

Your current relationship may not have worked out, but you can still move forward. When you look back on this breakup, you will have a clearer understanding of why it happened and what you learned from it, but you don’t have to see those lessons right now. Let yourself feel what you feel and know that you deserve to pursue a more fulfilling relationship.

Moving On Is Not Easy. But Accepting How Things Are Is The Best Way To Go

Communicate With The Other Person

When you know in your heart of hearts that it's time to move on, you need to convey that to the other person in the relationship. This can be a challenging and hurtful experience, but it's very important. If they too have realized that the relationship has run its course, then the decision to part ways may be mutual. However, whether the decision is mutual or not, you should still expect some sadness or at least somberness. After all, you were in a relationship, and most people can't just part ways without any emotion.

When most people are told that a relationship has run its course, they will effectively move on, especially if the parties want different things out of life. However, there are some instances where people do not take these conversations very well. They can sometimes become angry, hysterical, or even violent. If you have concerns about how the other person might react when you tell them that it's time to move on, then you should communicate with them from a distance, whether over the phone or via email or text. Always look out for your safety, and if you ever feel threatened or in danger, contact local emergency services via 911 or a safety hotline like the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Other Solutions Post-Breakup

  • Find a new hobby. Sometimes, the best way to heal is to give it time. Investing time into a hobby is a great way to pass the time while you wait to feel better about the situation.
  • Lean on your loved ones. You will need a solid support system to get through this as easily as possible. Don't be afraid to reach out to a loved one when you need some extra support.
  • Write it down. When you are feeling down or doubtful, write your feelings down in a journal. Having an outlet where you can sound off these emotions will help you decompress and heal.
  • Reach out to impartial, but supportive third parties like a faith leader, mentor, or licensed therapist for guidance and advice.

Seeking Help

No matter how you got to this point, it is important to remember that you deserve love. If you are struggling with the decision to end a relationship or the fallout of your partner’s decision to end things, you are not alone. Breakups are sadly quite common, especially when one or both of you realize that you want different things in life and the time has come to move on. A recent study found that 36.5 percent of respondents had experienced a breakup in the last 20 months, and that 43 percent of breakups resulted in moderate feelings of distress or decline in life satisfaction. If you are experiencing those or other feelings, you are not alone! Talking with a mental health professional through an online service like BetterHelp can help you to process your situation objectively, without judgment.

The accessibility and privacy of online therapy make it a better fit than in-person therapy for individuals seeking help toward the end of or following the end of a relationship. And if a relationship has left you feeling broken-hearted or in need of recovery from abuse or manipulation, then it is particularly important for you to seek out support; whatever you discuss in your confidential sessions is between you and a caring licensed therapist. Help is available, and you don't even have to leave home or travel to an appointment. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"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."


Walking away from a relationship is never an easy thing to do. To ensure that your future will be fulfilling and healthy, though, it can sometimes be necessary. With the right support and knowledge, you can live your life free from unsuccessful relationships. Take the first step today.

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