We’ve all been there. You and your honey have been together forever and a day. You’ve even mentally designed the ideal wedding, kitchen island counter-top, and the kids’ grammar school graduation.

But lately, the relationship is hitting the skids and getting through an average day feels like wading through knee-deep Mississippi mud. You thought you’d found the One, but recently you're second guessing yourself. 

How can you tell when your relationship has gone on too long? I’ve outlined four sure-fire ways to knowing  when it’s time to hit the road.

You want different things from life. Or you are at different points in life. 

Many say relationships are all about work and compromise. And you know what? You can expect negotiation.... to a point. It is A-OK to negotiate on the color of the dining room wall, which movie to see on Friday night, or who’s going to fold the laundry. But it’s a whole different ball game when it comes to more significant matters such as: a home in the suburbs or condo in the city, children or no children, the “when” of marriage and children, or how money should be spent or saved.

If you and your partner are on opposite sides of the spectrum on these topics or the timing of these issues, you will probably be unhappy if you stay together.

I emphasize timing because often both partners can want similar things but have very different time frames for them. For example, she might be thinking she wants to be in a relationship that leads to marriage in the next 18 months while he's thinking he wants to be in a relationship that leads to marriage in five years.

Don’t let the fear of possibly being single prevent you from hashing these matters out early on. It’s a proven fact that relationships have higher success rate with couples who share similar values and goals.

Make sure the odds are in your favor.

You find yourselves arguing over the same heated topics.  

You can love someone and still not be suitable life partners. If you’ve broken up and rekindled the romance 9 times and you’re still having the same gut-wrenching, insomnia-inducing fights, OR slightly different versions of the same problem AND! you have exhausted therapy and every self-help book, CD, and relationship seminar under the God-given sun…it’s probably best to end the relationship.

Seriously. 

You must be exhausted.

Promising each other that “you will work on it” and actually taking action by changing behavior and demeanor are two different things. One is empty words; the other is true commitment and growth.

You don’t trust them. You can’t place your finger on it but something seems off with them.  

Suspicious. Suspect. Does the fear of being alone or the pain of a potentially unsettling reality cause you to dismiss your gut instinct?  “I’m sure it’s fine,” you tell yourself. “I’m just overreacting, again.”

Your intuitions are the most effective radar system you have. Your intuition will tell you something is wrong long before it can be intellectualized or articulated.

Don’t brush off an intense gut reaction. Be willing to investigate. Pay it some attention.

Is it really an overreaction or are you afraid of what may be on the other side of the suspicion?

One of the best things about being in a relationship is that you have someone you can fully trust in. Do you trust them with your emotions? When you’re upset, do they acknowledge your emotional state and respond to it with concern and thoughtfulness?  Or is there a shrug of apathy? Do you trust them to be mindful and honor finances, material belongings and your shared loyalty?  Or are you possessed by curiosity and driven to check his snail mail, email, Facebook and Twitter accounts?

Your self-esteem is under attack. 

You want to be with a partner who knows you're not perfect but treats you like you are. Being in love should enhance your sense of openness and receptivity. It should plug you into an electric current of bright energy and acceptance. Are you feeling MORE self-conscious because of the way he treats or doesn’t treat you? You don’t need to be in a relationship so much that you need to sacrifice your sense of self.

In the end, the relationship you have with yourself is more crucial than the relationship you have with him.

Any and all of the above scenarios have the ability to hold you back. Your extended participation in them is an indication you are ignoring your needs. Consequently, you freeze in the face of fear and the unknown of singledom.  We tell ourselves it’s not that bad or that things will get better INSTEAD OF making a painful but positive change.

If you want sleepless nights, pounding headaches, shallow breaths, loneliness and limitation, then you will continue to accept the above.

But you have a choice.

Extinguish what is holding you back.

Yup. You’re that powerful.

Love is waiting for you.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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