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41 Signs & Proper Ways to End a Long Term Relationship & What to Do Next

It’s never easy to end a long-term relationship. Here’s how you can be mature about it and minimize the damage as much as you can.

end a long-term relationship

Most things come to an end, and long-term relationships are not always exceptions. There’s no “good way” to end a relationship. The best you can do is try your best to minimize the damage as much as possible. But how do you do it?

If you’re the one who decided to end your long-term relationship, it is particularly hard. Come to think of it, long-term relationships are hard to come by and even harder to end. The memories you share, the plans, and all the other practical entanglements *your stuff, room keys, bank accounts, and even custody of kids* that you must untangle.

Not to mention that it’s been so long since you were last single. It’s going to be difficult for both parties to go back to their old lives without each other.

[Read: How to get over a long term relationship, move on & feel whole again]

Be sure it is what you want

Despite any misunderstanding or lost love you may have with your partner, keep in mind that you shared something precious. Something you thought of as big as life itself. [Read: How to know when to end a relationship – The subtle signs]

So before you end your long-term relationship, first be certain this is what you want and that your decision is final. And then, plan how to make a clean break.

The big signs it’s time to end a long-term relationship

It’s not always easy to make such a big decision. Your mind may tell you to let go, but your heart isn’t in it. So how do you know it’s time to end a long-term relationship and when to keep holding on?

Look for these signs to help you make your decision.

1. You have unmet needs

If you have unmet needs that your partner cannot help you with, it’s time you go separate ways. This can either be something missing in your sex life, financial problems, or a lack of respect and passion in your relationship.

These issues can be resolved through communication and therapy. However, it takes a lot of time and effort from both parties to get through it.

[Read: Love and affection – The magic spark in long-term relationships]

2. You can’t compromise on anything

Love is accepting each other’s differences, and in many situations, you and your partner must compromise.

If you find this difficult, it may be the reason you two cannot move forward. This is when you must decide whether to take a break to figure it out, get therapy, or end the relationship.

[Read: Complicated relationship: what it is & the best ways to fix it or get out of it]

3. You lost respect for one another

A relationship usually starts with rainbows and butterflies. But the more you learn about each other, the more flaws you’ll find.

Although some couples manage to keep that honeymoon phase going for many years after, some relationships start going south after the first couple of months. As a result, you’ll eventually start losing respect for each other.

Respect is a big deal in a relationship, whether it’s romantic or not. So if you and your partner fight a lot, and there’s no respect between you two, it’s time to end it.

[Read: High value woman: 20 traits that make men respect & be in awe of her]

4. You don’t miss them when you’re apart

When you’re away from your partner, do you miss them terribly or feel free and relieved? If you miss them and realize how much they mean to you, perfect! Let them know that and try to fix what went wrong between the two of you.

But if you don’t miss them at all, and even feel happier than when you were with them, chances are, you’ll be happier single than in a relationship.

[Read: Long distance relationship: 46 LDR tips to make it work & not screw up]

5. You feel more like a parent than a partner

Your partner should be your equal. You’re not supposed to baby them or do everything for them and make all decisions.

Being someone your partner can count on is one thing, but you are not there to replace a parent figure. They’re a grown-up and should be able to get a job and take care of themselves.

[Read: Immature men: 27 manchild signs & why you should stay away from him]

6. You no longer enjoy doing things together

Does spending time with your partner begin to feel like a chore? You do things together because you have to. You don’t find joy in being around them anymore. The two of you go to a friend’s party and act like a happy couple, only to go back to hating each other when you get home.

That is not the point of being in a relationship. You are not getting paid to stay with someone you clearly don’t like anymore. [Read: Should I break up with my girlfriend? When, why & 43 signs to do it right]

7. Your sex life has become stagnant

Sex isn’t everything in a relationship, but it’s a very important factor in deciding whether a couple should stay together.

Many people get together before they have sex, then later find out they’re sexually incompatible. Although it’s not something that you cannot work on, many couples struggle. And eventually, one or both partners may seek sexual pleasure from somewhere else.

[Read: The awkward signs you’re having bad sex with your lover]

8. Your arguments are no longer productive

Another sign that you should end your long-term relationship is when you realize your arguments are no longer productive.

You don’t even know why you’re fighting, but you fight every day over the same issues. Maybe you don’t have the energy or need to resolve those issues anymore. Deep down, you know this is over, but you’re just not ready to admit it.

[Read: 42 red flags & signs it’s time to end your relationship & move on for good]

9. You’ve tried changing the relationship before

It’s not like you’re not trying to keep your partner. You’ve gone to therapy, taken advice from many sources, and let your partner have it their way.

But the more effort you put out, the more you realize it’s not going to work. You cannot go back to the way things were at the beginning. That’s when you know it’s already over whether you like it or not.

10. You don’t love them anymore

How do you define love? Love can be so many different things, so how are you sure that you don’t love them anymore? Well, you just know.

When you love someone, you don’t tolerate them. You accept them for who they are and don’t wish for them to change. But because of love, you both will try to change and be better for each other. Love should be a positive thing, not the toxic back and forth, fighting and getting back together.

If your relationship is more about who is right and who is wrong, then it’s not love.

[Read: How to break up with someone who loves you & not hurt them more]

11. There was betrayal in the past

When one partner cheats, it changes everything. No matter how many therapy sessions you sit through, no many how many promises you make, your relationship is never going to be the same.

You’ll find it very hard to trust your cheating partner again. And when there’s no trust in a relationship, it’s only heading towards destruction.

[Read: Why does love hurt when it goes bad? The truth you need to hear]

Why you should end the relationship as smoothly as possible

The rougher the breakup:

1. The longer it takes to move on

There may still be loose ends needing to be tied up or closure needed. When you break up in the heat of the moment, you say things out of anger or spite, and may even regret them later.

2. The more damage there is

In a rough breakup, everybody’s dignity, self-esteem, and overall mental and emotional well-being go through the ringer. A rough breakup can be physically and emotionally violent and scarring.

3. The higher the costs, especially if you are married

Think: two cars, two places, custody battles, lawyers, and many more. [Read: How to break up with someone you love the right way]

You owe it to your partner, yourself, and your long-term relationship, to make a clean break. Preserving both your dignity and respect for each other.

Why you’re afraid to end a long-term relationship

So now you know that it has to end, but you’re afraid to call the shot. Let’s find out why this is normal.

1. You’ve grown comfortable with your partner’s familiarity

It’s because you’ve grown comfortable with your partner’s familiarity. After all, you’ve spent so much time together and learned everything about each other. As soon as the idea of breakup springs to your mind, you’ll start thinking about all the good times. What if you’ll never have that again?

No matter how many memories you have with this person, just keep reminding yourself why you wanted to end things in the first place. People grow apart; it’s completely normal.

[Read: Should I break up with my girlfriend? When, why & 43 signs to do It right]

2. You don’t like the idea of being single

When you’re in a long-term relationship, the idea of starting over alone can be daunting. Especially when you two are quite co-dependent. You just don’t remember how to be on your own.

Well, just use this as an opportunity to find yourself again. There are so many things you can do after the break up to not feel lonely. Like going out with friends, learning a new language, starting a new hobby, going travelling alone. Eventually, when you’re ready, you can go on dates again.

[Read: Why do I feel so alone? 14 truths that can heal & change your life]

3. You don’t want to deal with the heartbreak so you’re waiting for someone else to come along

This is usually what happens in a movie, right? The main character is in a toxic relationship until they meet someone who helps them leave the toxic partner. Unfortunately, reality isn’t that easy.

This is the choice you have to make for yourself. That’s the only way you learn and grow. If you wait for someone to come get you, you won’t get a chance to figure yourself out. Chances are you’ll end up in the same relationship with a different person.

[Read: 42 secrets to be happy being single & lessons singledom can teach]

4. You’re scared you won’t find anyone better

What if no one else will tolerate you the way your partner does? What if no one else will accept your flaws?

Well, it’s time to stop asking yourself those questions, and start asking yourself, what if you deserve better? Someone else will love you more, if not as much. But why do you need someone else to be happy?

When you realize that you are all you need, that’s how you know you’re ready to be in a healthy relationship. Someone will realize your worth and love you like you deserve to be loved.

[Read: Rebound relationship: 42 signs & rules and how to have fun in one]

5. Time spent with someone you don’t see a future with is time wasted

So you fear that you wasted all that time with the person for nothing. But you must learn that the past is past. You cannot undo it, but you can change the future.

Now you’re left with two choices: to stay in the same relationship with someone you no longer want, or give yourself a chance to go on a new path and meet new people.

If you think your past was already wasted, why waste your future, too?

How NOT to end a long-term relationship

Do not try to end your relationship in the following ways. It’ll do more damage and cause more drama than there already is.

1. Beginning an affair

Research shows that when the affair is uncovered, both partners can experience mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide. There can also be an increase in emotional and physical violence in the relationship.

[Read: The 7 stages of emotional affairs & the games it plays on your mind]

2. Ghosting them

Ghosting makes a person feel disrespected, less worthy, and even disposable. If you don’t want someone to ghost you, why do it to another? Besides, if you choose to ghost someone instead of having mature communication, it says more about you than it does about them.

[Read: Why you shouldn’t ghost someone and 5 situations when it’s okay]

3. Intentionally making your partner’s life terrible

In no circumstance should you put your partner through hell. Nobody deserves such treatment. No matter how terrible your partner is to you, you have the option to leave, so be the bigger person and walk away.

[Read: The early signs of an abusive relationship that reveal a dark side]

4. Avoiding talking about the relationship

Just because you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t mean the problems will magically disappear. In fact, the more you ignore them, the worse they get.

The proper way to end a long-term relationship

The biggest mistakes you make when ending a long-term relationship are: not telling your partner why you’re breaking up with them, not understanding why you want to break up in the first place, not talking things out, and not considering there might still be a second chance for you both.

While being in a relationship can take a lot of work and commitment, getting out of a relationship takes as much out of you for a shorter period of time — even more. There’s the stress and burden of hurting your partner and yourself. As well as telling both your families you have gone your separate ways. [Read: 14 valid reasons to break up with someone that you love]

Making that clean break matters to you both. So without further ado, here are the essential steps you need to take to end a long-term relationship the right way.

1. You have to be certain

There’s nothing worse than breaking up with your partner, leaving them utterly devastated, and coming back around after a few days to say, “Ta-da! I’m here, I changed my mind.”

The point is, if you’re going to end it, be VERY SURE. If there’s an ounce of doubt or a glimmer of hope that your relationship can still run its course, then inspect that doubt, or maybe even hold onto that hope. Make sure you are ending the relationship for the right reasons. In the end, it’s going to be worth it for both of you.

2. You have to be calm

Always be in the right frame of mind if you decide to end a long-term relationship. Never decide or break up with your partner in the midst of an argument or any stressful situation. Being calm and collected allows you to express yourself better as well as listen to what your partner has to say.

[Read: How to break up with someone who loves you & not hurt them more]

3. Your partner has to be calm

While putting off the announcement for long is not a good idea, you still need to choose the right timing. A time when your partner is calm and in the right state of mind too. If they are stressed about something else, had a particularly rough day, or are not feeling well, then try to hold off on making the breakup announcement.

If you throw into the mix your break-up at a moment of high stress, then your partner will be a hundred times more devastated, and that is still an understatement. [Read: 15 of the worst things you can say during a breakup]

4. Avoid doing it over text

At least have the courage and decency to break up in person. Never break up via a DM or a text, or even announce you’re breaking up with your partner on your social media account.

No, no, no. You owe it at least to your long-term relationship to make an effort to talk to your partner face to face. It’s a sign of decency and maturity. And you care enough about your partner to look them straight in the eye and break the news. 

5. Avoid unnecessary publicity

Never EVER tell anyone, such as your friends or family, that you’re going to break up with your partner BEFORE you actually end the relationship with them. Chances are, the grapevine is one fast vessel for such hot gossip, and your partner may know of the news even before you could talk to them.

Again, don’t break up on social media, such as commenting on your partner’s post that you’re breaking up with them. Also avoid breaking up in a public place where there is high traffic.

6. Choosing the right venue

Choose the right place to end your long-term relationship. Make it a safe and private place, such as a far-off booth in a restaurant. However, if you’re worried about violence, make sure to have a friend nearby or do it in a more public place.

Just make sure neither of you feels unsafe or overexposed. The key is being considerate of your partner’s feelings. [Read: How to successfully break up with an obsessive lover]

7. Be the bigger person

Chances are, there will be a lot of tears. And anger. Whether or not your partner behaves badly, remember they may be hurting.

So take the high road: be honest, kind, and considerate. Don’t fight fire with fire and always act with good conscience, even if that’s the last thing you do for your soon-to-be-ex partner.

8. Remain respectful and honest

Be generous enough to answer any questions your partner may have about your reasons for breaking up with them. Remember to be honest, but avoid blaming or criticizing. Choose constructive, positive words making your partner better listen and understand your reasons, even if they hurt.

[Read: How to break up when he doesn’t want to: the step-by-step guide]

9. Don’t look back

After breaking up with them, you may feel bad and wonder how they are. You may even be tempted to ask how they are. Fight the urge to keep in touch, at least right after the breakup. Most of all, don’t hop in bed with them after breaking up. Break up sex leads to disaster, after you’ve ultimately decided to cut ties with the person. [Read: Can you be friends with an ex after a break up?]

What to do after ending a long-term relationship

After ending your long-term relationship, you may find yourself overwhelmed with a mix of emotions: anger, confusion, sadness, remorse, relief, fear, and joy. However, rest assured time really does heal.

1. Focus on yourself

Take things a day at a time, and allow your ex-partner time and space as well. Don’t initiate any further contact as this may make things worse for both of you. Try focusing on yourself and putting yourself first from now on.

Think about that thing you always wanted to do but couldn’t do when you were in a relationship. Do it now! Spend time with your family and friends. Pick up where you left off in the book you’ve been dying to read again, find a hobby, and continue to do the things making you happy. Keep growing as an individual. [Read: The small ways to deal with big changes in your life]

2. Take yourself out on a date

Why not take yourself on a date? Buy a movie ticket, visit a museum, or go on a solo picnic. It’s actually very fun to do things by yourself. You can choose the time and place and dress however you like. No more worrying about dressing to impress.

[Read: 30 secrets to get over someone you love fast & not give a damn anymore]

3. Allow yourself to mourn

But of course, losing someone you’ve been with for such a long time isn’t easy. You won’t forget about them overnight. You’ll find yourself in all the stages of a breakup and may even revisit some of the stages more than once. Let yourself mourn and don’t rush the process. The pain won’t last forever.

[Read: How to stop caring about someone: 23 ways to move on from the pain]

4. Surround yourself with friends and family

Make sure to surround yourself with your support circles like your family and friends. Who needs a romantic partner when there are so many people who love you endlessly and unconditionally?

5. Avoid talking to them so soon

As for your ex, delete their contact details to keep from getting in touch with them. Unfriend them from social media to avoid post-breakup drama. Do not text them on special occasions. Let them know beforehand to avoid any further hurt feelings.

Ending a long-term relationship is like closing a big chapter in your life and throwing it away.

[Read: 9 year love: the pain of ending a long term relationship]

6. Forgive your ex and yourself

No matter how the relationship ended, only hold on to the good parts. If you want to move on, you need to forgive even when you cannot forget. So, whatever your partner did or you did, put it in the past and only look focus on the future.

[Read: How to forgive and forget: 24 thoughts to decide on the right step]

7. Change your routine

If you follow the same routine as when you were in a relationship, you won’t be able to forget about your ex. Now it’s time to start a new chapter. Come up with a new routine for yourself. You’ll feel a lot better and heal a lot faster, too.

8. Seek professional help if necessary

There’s nothing wrong with going to therapy after ending a long-term relationship. In fact, it should be normalized. The right therapist will help you figure out what to do next and understand your feelings a lot better.

[Read: Relationship therapy: 25 clues to know if it’ll help your romance]

9. Let yourself find love again naturally

Don’t rush into another relationship or start hooking up with people *if it’s not your thing*. Let yourself heal completely, and then love will come to you. This time, you’ll be wiser and know better than to fall into the same relationship.

[Read: How to fall in love again after a break up]

Take to heart the lessons you learned, personal growth, and the time you have to once again rediscover yourself all on your own. Make this a positive time in your life and use this to be a better partner in your future relationships.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...