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16 Universal Signs Your Relationship is Over According to Experts

In today’s modern technological world, there are a multitude of ways to meet someone. 

Whereas in the past, choices were limited to blind dates, being set up, or in person rendezvous, today the options seem endless. 

You can now meet someone on a variety of online dating platforms, whether it be Match, eHarmony, or Tinder

You can narrow the field down even further by choosing platforms geared specifically towards certain religions, age groups, and sexual orientations. 

If internet dating is not your thing, you can always sign up for a speed dating event, where you get several minutes to assess connections with multiple suitors. 

Dating has even ventured into the reality television world, as anyone can sign up for a chance at love with the Bachelor or Bachelorette

Whereas there are many types of ways to meet someone, most relationships tend to end the same way. 

The relationship doesn’t work out for whatever reason and both parties move on in opposite directions. 

There are conversations, heartbreak, fighting, and tears. 

It is the same movie over and over again, just with different characters each time.

Similarly, there is a general set of signs that can commonly predict the end of a relationship. 

These signs are universal and applicable to the majority relationships, regardless of age, culture, or sexual orientation. 

Following, are fifteen signs that can signal that a relationship is over.

Sign #1: Lack of Contact

No Contact In Relationship

Frequent contact is important for any relationship, especially in the beginning as it develops and grows. 

Whether you live with your partner or not, contact throughout the day should be the norm

A lack of contact can suggest that you are not your partner’s priority, or may indicate that they are spending their time elsewhere.

Excuses such as “I was busy”, or “I had no time” hold very little validity in this day and age. 

It only takes a few minutes to call, to type a text message, to send an email, or to stop by and say hello. 

If your cell phone has gone silent and you are wondering why your partner never calls, your relationship may be nearing the end.

Sign #2: You Are The Only One to Take Initiative

Woman Taking Initiative

Relationships should always be a two-way street, meaning that ideally, equal effort and investment should come from both parties

One partner should never be the one who does everything, whether it is planning the dates, initiating contact, or carrying the groceries in from the car. 

If the relationship is unbalanced, it is suggestive that one person cares more than the other person. 

A lack of initiative also shows a lack of effort and investment, both in your partner and in the relationship as a whole.

People tend to put time and exertion into the things that they care most about.

If your partner is not putting an appropriate amount of time or effort into your relationship, without remorse or good reason, you need to leave the one-way street and round the corner.

 Sign #3: Cheating

Cheating Sexting In Relationship

When two people enter into an exclusive relationship, they make a promise to be monogamous, while pledging that they will refrain from physical or emotional relationships with anyone else. 

This pact is built on trust and fueled on blind faith

Cheating can occur if there is a lack of investment or deep cracks in the relationship. 

Cheating is the sibling of lying and dishonesty, as individuals need deceit to keep their infidelity a secret from their partner. 

When a relationship is built on a faulty foundation of lying and duplicity, it cannot sustain anything built upon it thereafter. 

Sign #4: Lack of Trust

Couple Holding Hands

Trust is paramount to any relationship.

Individuals only allow themselves to fall when they have faith that their partner will be there to catch them. 

If a person lacks trust for their mate, they will be in a constant state of skepticism, leading to jealousy and possessiveness. 

A lack of trust may be warranted when a person has been unfaithful in the past, or can be unwarranted if a person has done nothing to incur the mistrust. 

Whether warranted or unwarranted, a lack of trust can result in jealousy and control. 

A person may try to dictate who their partner can socialize with, where they can go, or how long they can be out. 

When this occurs, the relationship has already ventured into abusive territory. 

The only way to save a relationship built on mistrust and possessiveness is through professional help and intervention.  Without it, you trust that the relationship is over.

Sign #4: There Is Abuse

Emotional Abuse In Relationship

Abuse is not acceptable in any relationship and results in dominance, power, control, and violence. 

There is always an aggressor and a victim in every abusive relationship, with a large power differential between them. 

Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual in nature, or can be a combination of all three. 

Abusive relationships can be difficult to leave, as victims commonly feel scared, threatened, and powerless against their aggressors. 

Aggressors in abusive relationships make their victims feel unloved and unwanted, while convincing them that they can do no better. 

Abuse has serious psychological and emotional consequences for all parties and should always be treated with professional intervention.

The bottom line is that where there is abuse, there is no relationship

Sign #5: Non-assertive Communication

Non Assertive Communication Couple In Relationship

There are several types of communication including, assertive, passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive. 


Assertive communication is the optimal way to converse and should be used in all relationships.

Assertive communication occurs when a person communicates openly and respectfully, while clearly asserting their wants and needs.


Passive communication ensues when an individual fails to assert themselves, making them a doormat who is taken advantage of. 


Aggressive communication is comprised of shouting, put-downs, and expletives and is designed to instill fear in others

Passive Aggressive

Passive-aggressive communication is when communication is overtly passive, but has aggressive undertones lying beneath it.

Unassertive communication spells trouble for any relationship, as it shows a lack of respect and polarizes partners

Unassertive communication promotes dominance and makes it difficult for couples to discuss and resolve issues. 

Any relationship that is built on unhealthy communication patterns has no true long-term potential. 

Sign #5: You Are Unhappy in the Relationship

Unhappy Couple

At the end of the day, we engage in relationships because they make us happy and enhance our life experiences. 

They enrich us, challenge us, and help us grow. 

Relationships provide comfort, support, and camaraderie when we need it most and fill our life with purpose and meaning. 

When relationships cause perpetual sadness, an excessive amount of crying, or elicits depressive symptoms, it signifies a problem. 

If you get no joy or satisfaction from your relationship, you need to question why you are still in it.

Sign #6: There’s A Physical Disconnect

Unhappy Couple In Relationship

Physical connection is extremely important to all relationships. 

Physical interaction allows a couple to show love and care for each other. 

Individuals can form a physical connection by:

  • Holding hands
  • Cuddling
  • Kissing
  • Through more passionate endeavors

Physical relations portray wanting, lust, and desire and satisfy the basic human need for closeness and touch

When there is a lack of physical intimacy, it is indicative of a problem. 

A lack of physical intimacy can make partners feel unattractive and self-conscious, thus negatively impacting their confidence and self-esteem. 

Physical intimacy is also related to vulnerability. 

If your partner is unwilling to be open and vulnerable, or rejects your physical advances, it may mean that they have already emotionally and physically left the relationship.

Sign #7: You Feel A Constant Annoyance

Annoyed Couple Fighting

It is a well-known principle that human beings are flawed and imperfect. 

Individuals have their own set of tendencies, quirks, and idiosyncrasies, which make them who they are. 

Some of these oddities may be interesting and unique, while others may be downright annoying. 

At the beginning of a relationship, people either fail to notice, ignore, or can quickly dismiss their partner’s annoying habits and tendencies.

However, as the relationship moves forward, these habits may begin to increasingly cause irritation

A person may become annoyed by the way their partner chews, hums in the shower, or haphazardly flings their clothes all over the floor.

If your patience is dwindling and you find your mate aversive and aggravating, it may be time to let them share their annoying traits with someone else.

Sign #8: The Bad Outweighs The Good

Couple Arguing Aggressively

In every relationship, you take the good with the bad. 

No relationship is ever smooth sailing and couples must learn how to navigate through the storms of life together

As time goes on, a person accumulates countless memories from the relationship. 

When recollecting the past, good memories should always be the ones that surface first

A person may remember when their mate surprised them with flowers at work, how hard the two of them laughed while playing Twister, or how utterly romantic New Year’s Eve was last year. 

It is foolish to say that a relationship will never encounter bad moments, resulting in some less than optimal memories. 

An individual may recall their first real fight with their partner, the disappointment they felt when their partner made a hurtful choice, or the sadness endured when their partner got Valentine’s Day all wrong. 

As the months and years go on, a couple accumulates an assortment of recollections. 

When reminiscing, if a flood of bad memories are the first ones to surface, this may be a storm not worth navigating.

Sign #9: Your relationship is more “I” than “We”

Selfish Boyfriend Driving

Relationships that stand the test of time are the ones where couples act as a team. 

“We” relationships

Couples that function as a “we” can be compared to synchronized swimmers; they are perfectly in sync and move together in tandem

These couples work together towards a common goal, communicate closely, and face challenges head on with each other. 

As they overcome obstacles, they are keenly aware of what is best for their partner and for the relationship itself. 

In addition, if they have to choose between themselves or the team, they will always sacrifice themselves for what is ultimately good for the team. 

“I” Relationships

In contrast, relationships that function as an “I” are never on the same page

Individuals tend to make decisions that will advance themselves rather than the relationship. 

They are comfortable sacrificing their partner’s wants and needs to ensure that they can attain their own. 

If your relationship functions as an “I” rather than a “we” and you are out of sync, it may be time to stop swimming and get out of the pool.

Sign #10: They are not “The One”

Soul Mates

When assessing the long term potential of a relationship, people often ask if the person is “the one.” 

Some individuals may answer immediately with certainty and conviction that they are in fact with “the one.” 

Others may be unsure and need more time to assess, while others not looking for commitment may be happy being with someone who is not “the one.” 

Knowing when a person is “the one” usually results from intuition and a feeling that one gets deep within their gut. 

Although eHarmony and Match.com, who rely heavily on calculations and compatibility profiles would likely differ, there is no scientific process to determine the identity of “the one.” 

When you take an honest and introspective look at your partner and your relationship, what does your gut tell you? 

If you are looking for long term commitment and know that your partner is not your forever, you need to go find “the one.’

Sign #11: Conflicts cannot be resolved

Some amount of fighting and disagreement in a relationship is healthy, as it shows hunger and passion. 

It shows that both parties care enough about something to fight for it. 

Couples in a healthy relationship know how to resolve conflict and can do so in a respectful manner

Other couples show a distinct lack of respect for each other during conflict and aim directly for their partners’ Achilles’ heel. 

These targeted attacks can wreak havoc on a person’s confidence and self-esteem

In addition to unproductive fighting, some fights may continuously reoccur or have no resolution

If you and your partner are fighting the same fights in an endless loop, protect your heart and your Achilles heel and walk away from the relationship.

Sign #12: Deal-Breakers

Relationship Deal Breakers

Sometimes, it does not matter how hard we want a relationship to work, as it is simply not in the stars. 

No matter how compatible a couple may be, certain “deal-breakers” can trigger an automatic breakup

For example, one partner may want to have a family someday, while the other person does not. 

An individual may have a drinking problem and be unwilling to stop, despite their partner’s pleas. 

A person may need to take a job opportunity in another country, while their mate may be unwilling to uproot and follow. 

Deal breakers place a couple at an important junction, where individuals can choose to go only one of two ways. 

They either decide to move forward together, or each go in opposite directions down a different path. 

If you are at a juncture with a deal breaker in hand, it may be time to follow the stars down your own path.

Sign #13: Professional help cannot resolve the issues

Young Couple At Counseling

Most of the time, couples are distinctly aware that problems exist in their relationship. 

These problems can be related to many different issues, such as:

  • Family
  • Religion
  • Career
  • Friendships
  • Personality traits

Although most couples know when there is a problem in the relationship, not everyone is always willing to do something about it. 

Furthermore, not every pair is willing to go the extra mile to seek help from couples counseling.

Although, couples counseling can be very successful for some, it does not always work for everyone. 

The success rate has to do with several factors including the couple’s presenting problems, the length of treatment, and a couple’s investment in the therapeutic process. 

If you and your partner have obtained professional help to no avail, despite your best efforts, the end may be inevitable. 

Sign #14: Failure to Notice When They Are Not Around

Girlfriend Reading Doesn't Realize Boyfriend Not Around

Most of the time, couples have a pretty good idea about the whereabouts of their partner. 

Whether their mate is in the other room, across town, or past state lines, people usually have a general knowledge of their partner’s approximate location and activity

Depending on the nature of a relationship and the personalities that comprise it, a person may either miss their mate the moment they leave, several hours later, or perhaps several days after their departure. 

The bottom line is that a person notices when their partner is gone, misses their presence, and eagerly anticipates their return. 

In contrast, other people may fail to notice when their partner has left, or they may find themselves actually enjoying the time when their partner is not there

If this applies to you, you will probably be happier if your partner goes away permanently.

Sign #15: Absence From Your Future Plans

Boyfriend Contemplating Future of Relationship

At a certain point in every relationship, one begins to consider the future. 

People begin to assess whether they can see their significant other in their life on a long-term basis, determine if their mate is a good fit with their family, and consider if this person can make them happy. 

Once a person can visualize the future, their mate becomes a recurrent, leading cast member in their dreams. 

Individuals may daydream about where they might live, careers they may have, or details about their wedding day. 

If the relationship goes south, a person may find themselves considering their future without their lead cast member

Perhaps they think about removing the cast member all together, re-assigning them to a less important role, or replacing them with a new lead. 

Whatever the case, if you cannot envision a future with your partner, the curtains need to close on this performance.

Sign #16: You Have Lost Yourself in the Relationship

Woman Reflecting Losing Herself in Relationship

The best relationships are those where you can be yourself without judgment

You feel safe in these relationships, knowing that you will be loved and accepted regardless of your imperfections and flaws. 

In other words, you can be yourself without exception or apology and do not have to change your thoughts, opinions, viewpoints, or goals to please someone else. 

You do not have to walk carefully on pieces of glass, so as not to trigger or upset someone else. 

You do not have to pretend to have certain interests or try to fit into places you do not. 

In a healthy relationship, people have a solid understanding of who they are and their role in the relationship. 

In an unhealthy relationship, people tend to lose themselves somewhere along the way. 

A person may start to pretend to be someone they are not, either for fear of rejection or in an attempt to please their partner at their own expense. 

They may pass up certain career opportunities, stop talking to family and friends, or move across the country. 

They may abandon their own hobbies and fully immerse themselves in the interests of their partner

In other words, they have changed who they are

If anyone does not fully accept you for who you are, they do not deserve to be in a relationship with you. 

If you feel that you have changed into someone you no longer recognize, it is time to leave the relationship to go find yourself. 

Wrapping Up Signs Your Relationship is Over

Regardless of the many ways that one can meet someone new these days, there is a set of universal signs that can predict the end of a relationship. 

Whether you have scored 100% on a compatibility profile, been set up with the “perfect” person, or swiped right on Tinder, these signs can always predict the end of a relationship.         

In our modern world, we find out about a breakup within minutes of its occurrence, either from a Facebook status change or from a tweet on Twitter. 

If you find that your relationship is over, take comfort in the fact that love can be found online, in person, or at singles events. 

Who knows, you may even be casted as the Bachelor or Bachelorette in the next season.

Photo of author

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS is a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Jersey, a Nationally Certified Counselor, an Approved Clinical Supervisor, and a mental health freelance writer. Tracy has fourteen years of clinical and supervisory experience in a variety of mental health settings and levels of care.

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