How do you know with 100% certainty that it’s time to move on and break up for good? What’s the breaking point, the final straw, for relationships? If you’re questioning your relationship, considering a break up, or if you’re not sure if it’s time to file for divorce, read on to learn more about why people split up and how people know when it’s time to go.
People break up, get divorced, and end their relationships for a wide variety of reasons – from the mundane, to traumatic, to the downright bizarre. Sometimes it’s a gradual build-up of issues over time. In some cases, a major incident occurs that suddenly shakes up an otherwise stable (if not dysfunctional) relationship beyond repair.
The most common reasons couples break up
One study by researchers at the University of Denver’s Department of Psychology found that the following are the most common reasons couples gave for their divorces, from most common to least common:
- Lack of commitment
- Infidelity or extramarital affairs
- Too much conflict and arguing
- Getting married too young
- Financial problems
- Substance abuse
- Domestic violence
Health problems, lack of family support and religious differences were also found to be among the top 10 causes for marital splits reported in the study, published in the NIH’s National Library of Medicine. The most common reasons for relationships ending have remained consistent over the years.
Below, readers share their stories about the moment they knew that their relationship was over – it’s time to file for divorce, move out, and/or move on!
My partner’s best friend told me to ‘get out’
Friends of your significant other can be an issue in the relationship, or even provide some insight.
“I knew it was time to leave when my partner’s best friends repeatedly told me how much better I could do for myself than the person I was dating, who was their actual best friend,” said Jason Feldman. “If you’re dating someone and their closest friends are telling you to get out, that’s probably a good sign to exit the relationship.”
I caught him cheating
Sometimes the ultimate sign is a bit more dramatic. “It was time to go when I caught his ass cheating!” said Christina Mathison. Although that was the final straw for her, she said there were other issues in the relationship prior to that revealing incident, including dishonesty and miscommunication.
I felt ‘stuck’ in the relationship
That feeling of being “stuck” in a vicious cycle can also make people want to get out of a relationship.
“I knew it was time to leave when it was clear we were going to keep going round in circles – the repeated cycles of breakups and reunions – and by then I had made progress in my Al-Anon program and realized I didn’t want to engage anymore in that painful, upsetting cycle that kept me constantly off-balance. Staying ‘balanced’ is everything for those of us born under the sign of Libra, ‘the scales,’” John Andriote said.
My boyfriend wanted multiple sexual partners
Relationships may end when partners find they’re not sexually compatible, or that they’re not on the same page with their significant other regarding the status of the relationship or number of sexual partners.
“I left one boyfriend when he told me he needs to have multiple partners,” Elena Rivera said. Her ex is now polyamorous, which works for him and his partners. Polyamory and other less traditional relationship styles are best discussed early in the relationship to ensure that everyone agrees about the expectations and status of the relationship.
“I knew it was time to break it off when I found out he was more attracted to men than women,” said Gina Blake. In addition to discovering material on her then-fiancé’s computer, he’d made overtly sexual advances at men in front of her on several occasions.
“In my opinion, making passes at other people, regardless of gender, was extremely disrespectful to me and our relationship. Also, I felt like he was hiding his true self, and I didn’t even really know the person I was dating. If he prefers to be with a man, he needed to be honest about it with himself and others and go be with a man. I couldn’t be married to a man if I’m always wondering if he’d rather be with another guy than with me,” she added.
“I started dreading sleeping with him’
“I knew it was time to leave when I came home to him announcing a list of rules for me to follow moving forward, including a curfew!” said Veronika Schmidt*. “Also, I knew it was time to end another previous relationship when I started to dread sleeping with him,” she added.
My mother-in-law was overbearing
As the study revealed, family members can be the catalyst for divorces and splits as well.
Emily Learned said her ex’s mother would make intrusive, insulting comments. “She used to tell me [how to improve my appearance] including conditioning my hair and whitening my teeth.” In fact, there are entire reality shows devoted to the impact that overbearing parents and families can have on relationships, such as “The Family Chantal” and “I Love a Mama’s Boy” on TLC network, for example.
Sometimes, the decision to end the relationship is made for you. “My relationship was over when he moved across the country, changed his phone number, and moved in with another woman!” said Heather M.
We had different attitudes about money
Finances are among the top common causes of conflict and friction in many relationships.
“I decided to get a divorce the day my (often unemployed) husband screamed at me relentlessly about a necessary $9.00 purchase,” said Angela Bradley. “There were lots of issues and fights leading up to that moment, but that was when I knew I was done with the relationship. Most of the arguments revolved around the same two or three disagreements, which would never change… one of them being our very different attitudes around money and our abilities and drive to earn enough to live a comfortable life.”
My former boyfriends had disgusting habits
And then there’s just those inexplicably gross displays of sloppiness or poor hygiene that are such a huge turn-off, the relationship cannot survive it.
“My relationship was over when my then-boyfriend thought I wasn’t looking…and I saw him dig out a big juicy rubbery booger, spring it back and forth between his finger and thumb, and then … he ate it!” said Marjorie Dawson. He even tried to explain that he’d never done that before – but she was unconvinced and too disgusted to be with him for one more minute.
She added that another former boyfriend from many years ago raised her suspicions when he wouldn’t ever let her see where he lived, even after several weeks of dating. Dawson showed up unannounced at his apartment and was horrified by what she saw. She recalls a horrible stench emanating from his apartment, and he appeared to be a hoarder of many creepy oddities including jars of unidentified material that resembled human skin. That was the last time she ever saw him. “Where did I find these guys?” she wonders today.
Whatever your reason for divorcing or breaking up, ending a relationship is not easy, and it’s never the desired outcome.
* Some names have been changed for anonymity