letting go

Letting go: How to know when it’s time to end a relationship

An unhealthy relationship can scar you emotionally, lower your self-esteem, stunt your progress and take an immense toll on your wellbeing.

In a healthy relationship, one doesn’t undermine or demean their partner just to prove a point or win an argument. Nor does a partner use manipulation to dominate their relationship. However, this is not the case when you are in an unhealthy relationship. An unhealthy relationship can take a variety of forms. When your partner prioritises emotional control over everything else, including respect and trust, it is a clear sign your relationship is headed downhill. A common thread running across all unhealthy relationships is some form of abuse—physical, psychological, financial, sexual or social. Such a partner can make you feel inadequate, unworthy and miserable. Every interaction feels wrong and brims with negative energy.

The indicators of a rift between you and your partner could be subtle, and to identify them, you need to pay close attention to your interactions with them. For instance, does your partner constantly keep a check on you or violate your privacy and personal space? Do they accuse you of talking to people you ‘shouldn’t’ or tell you what you can and cannot wear? Do they belittle you privately and publicly? All such behavioural patterns are warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, which should be dealt with immediately.

An unhealthy relationship can scar you emotionally, lower your self-esteem, stunt your progress and take an immense toll on your wellbeing. A study titled Stable negative social exchanges and health found that “negative social exchanges with family, friends, and neighbours are known to be an important source of stress in daily life, and chronic stress is theorized to have especially potent impacts on health.”

If you are worried about being in such a relationship and wondering what to do next, here are some signs to help you identify if it’s time to call it quits.

Controlling and manipulative behaviour

A healthy relationship is all about making decisions together, and not for each other. Partners who like to be in control of the relationship express this need by being manipulative. They use a whole arsenal of manipulation tools to dominate their partner. Such type of controlling behaviour stems from a deep sense of insecurity and low self-esteem. A toxic partner may attempt to control or diminish your worth to uplift themselves. For example, they may monitor your day-to-day routine and be overly invested in your social life on the pretext of caring about you. They may purposely make your family and friends uncomfortable in your presence and later blame them for playing spoilsport. When such situations occur over and over again, they reach the point of them seeming intentional. If you notice such signs in your relationship, consider it a major deal-breaker.

Toxic communication

Have you come across a situation when you ask your partner to do something and they agree, but do it half-heartedly? And when you point that out, they complain and make you feel guilty about asking them. Unhealthy communication patterns are characterised by drastic mood swings, unexpected emotional outbursts and inconsistent responses. Such a partner may react to a situation affirmatively one day and explode in the same situation the next day. People who exhibit such behaviour struggle to communicate their feelings clearly. They expect you to read their mind and know what they are going through. They may deliberately start an argument with you or seem to be in constant conflict with your thoughts and ideas. The phrase ‘addicted to drama’ is relevant here.

Patterns of disrespect

A pattern of disrespect is a vital sign of an unhealthy relationship that more often than not goes unnoticed. Picture this. You spend hours cooking dinner for your friends and family, but your partner says the food tastes awful. How will that make you feel? Angry, demotivated, and isolated, right? Constantly blowing your mistakes out of proportion, humiliating, criticising, making fun of you in front of others, or discounting your achievements are all examples of disrespect. When your partner constantly criticises and belittles you, it sets a negative tone in your relationship. People who demean their partners mostly do it to feel better about themselves. Bringing up traumatic events from your past, shaming you for previous relationships, or criticising your hobbies, interests and jobs count as disrespect. If your partner responds to your needs with sarcasm, disgust or arrogance, it’s time to move on.


It is common for people in relationships to make mistakes that can hurt or upset their partners. But when your partner does something wrong and lies about it, the chances of your relationship turning sour are high. Secrets and lies lead to a breach of trust and can cause lasting damage to your relationship. Dishonesty is more than telling a lie and includes making ambiguous statements, telling half-truths, manipulating information through exaggeration, or withholding feelings or information that is important to one partner. A toxic partner will not apologise for the painful situations they put you in. Instead, they constantly find ways to make you feel responsible for their actions.

Resentment and holding grudges

Holding on to grudges can lead to resentment, which in turn takes a toll on a relationship. When your partner brings up past issues that you both have already gone over and over again, it usually means they are not ready to move on. Holding on to grudges can ignite feelings of anger and bitterness in your relationship and erode trust and openness. Once you have mutually resolved an issue, it is an unhealthy habit to bring up the same argument again and again, with the intent of embarrassing your partner. So, if your partner often holds grudges they can’t let go of, it can lead to the end of your relationship.

Constant feeling of fear and anxiety

Are you afraid, stressed or apprehensive around your partner? Do you worry about how your partner will react when you tell them something? If yes, then most likely you are in an unhealthy relationship. You may never be able to predict their mood, and you will have to be careful about what you say or do around them. If you frequently try to mould your actions to avoid upsetting your partner, it is not worth your time. If your partner threatens you in any way, it’s a clear sign that you need to end things. Such behaviour can include blackmail, threats of physical harm or suicide, or other intimidating remarks, with the motive of backing you into a corner and preventing you from leaving the relationship.




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