What I’ve Learned from My Breakup: 12 Signs That the Relationship Won’t Work

I have a new theme song, and it’s called “Your Lips Are Movin” by Meghan Trainor.

Actually I have a lot of theme songs, but this is my current #1. It’s amazing what strength that heartbreak can bring out of a person. I am finally waking up and finding strength in my womanhood.

Right now I’m in the anger phase of my grief over the end of this relationship that I focused on for a year and a half. During that time I had a belief—a hope—that we’d spend the rest of our lives together. The good times were wonderful, and I hoped our love would grow deeper. But it did not. As much as I want to focus on positivity and be an inspiration to others, right now I need to work through my anger so that I can let it go.

Anger is a healthy emotion. It’s not one I’m used to expressing; I don’t like it. At the same time it can be empowering. At some point I had to wake up to the fact that this relationship was not working, and could not work no matter how hard I tried. Had I not said or done the wrong thing at the wrong time, I’d have done something else wrong at some other wrong time. Maybe at some point he’ll realize it’s not a good guy versus bad guy situation, that we’re both human, and maybe not. But right now he blames the end of this relationship on me. What can I do with that?

I’ll tell you what I won’t do with it. I refuse to lay down and die for it. I will not be someone else’s doormat. I will not accept full responsibility for the end of this relationship. It takes two. I know that I loved well and I loved deeply, and I expressed that as best as I could, which was pretty darn good 99% of the time, and if that’s not good enough for him, he’s free to move on. I am setting him free. Better yet, he has set me free.

If you’re currently in a relationship and you’re questioning whether or not it will work out, consider the following red flags. I learned these the hard way, through experience, which seems to be the only way I can learn. But now I know if I get into another relationship in which any of the following happens, I don’t have to spend a year and a half or however long hoping things will change. They won’t.

  1. After a few weeks of dating they suggest you move in together. Let’s be real. This person is not mentally stable, and neither are you. There’s a reason why they say “crazy in love” and “love is blind.” Sure, you may both be caught up in the excitement of the new stages of your infatuation, and you each may feel like you want to be together forever, but this is not the time to make decisions about your future together. It’s not fair for them to drag you into their fantasy world. Just have fun together and don’t buy into (or make) long-term promises!
  2. After a few months—and after initially suggesting you move in together—they change their mind and say you should not move in together. This is even worse than #1! And it’s highly likely that the entirety of your relationship will consist of them switching back and forth between wanting to live with (or marry) you and not living with you.
  3. When times get tough, they tell you, repeatedly, that they don’t see how the relationship will work. It’s true. The relationship will not work! Do not try to convince them that it’s worth fighting for, and do not fight for it! It’s not worth fighting for if you’re the only one fighting. Run fast!
  4. They claim to enjoy doing something and insist on doing it every time, but later come back and say they resent you for it. For example, they say they love to cook for you, and then later say they’re tired of cooking all the time. If they refuse your offer to cook, and you don’t ask them to cook for you, and they continue to do it and resent you for it, that is a red flag. There’s no way you can make this person happy. Only they can make them happy, and your actions do not control that for the better or worse. This is true for everyone, no matter who your partner is. We can only control our own actions.
  5. They ignore you. This includes blocking your number from their phone, turning off texting capability, not answering your calls, and saying they “need a break.” Your voice deserves to be heard, and do not accept any less. I’m not talking about bombarding them or blowing up their phone, but reasonable efforts to reach out and have a discussion with someone. You deserve to be with someone who can have a grown-up conversation with you.
  6. They blame you for problems in the relationship. No matter what you did, you did not singlehandedly cause all the problems in this relationship! This may seem like a no-brainer, and you may feel you already know this. But some people have an insidious way of manipulating others into feeling they are to blame. If you have the slightest doubt in your mind about something you may have done wrong, and they capitalize on it without admitting any of their wrongdoing, they’re manipulating you. That doesn’t mean never back down. But use your best judgment to determine if the “punishment” fits the “crime.” I use those words in quotes, because when things go wrong you may feel you’re being punished or that you’ve committed a crime, and if that’s the case, know that this relationship is not healthy for you.
  7. At some point you learn that this other person does not love himself. He cannot love anyone else if he cannot love himself. You can wait around hoping he’ll learn to love himself, but know that you’ll also be waiting for him to learn to love you too. And that could be a loooooong time. Like forever.
  8. At some point you figure out you need to learn to love yourself. You thought you loved yourself, but he doesn’t respect you, he refuses to communicate with you, he consistently breaks up with you, and you continue to accept it. At some point you’ve got to realize you’re not being treated well, and you deserve better. Love yourself. Stand up for yourself. Move on. Do what you need to do to make the best of your time here on this planet Earth. You do not have to live a life of pain and heartache.
  9. He never comes to your house. Is he not interested in your life? Does he not want to see how you live? The answer is no. This is a selfish person who does not deserve your love.
  10. Your partner has no friends, and is estranged from his family-of-origin. This person doesn’t like most people, including your friends. Obviously they cannot be in any kind of relationship, including platonic ones. What makes you think you’re any different? You may be in the beginning, but know that eventually you too will be on their blacklist.
  11. They have no interest in spending time with other people together as a couple. Not everyone has to be glued to each other’s sides and have all the same friends—in fact, independence is important–but it’s also important to be able to go out together sometimes and have mutual friends.
  12. Every holiday and special occasion becomes a crisis. You find yourself no longer looking forward to any holiday because you feel deep down that some disaster is pending. Why do you think you feel that way? What happened in the past? Maybe (as in my case) your partner cannot handle the stress, or maybe the two of you together cannot handle it. Whatever the case, you deserve to live a life of serenity and peace.

Now’s the time to enjoy your freedom. There’s no reason why you can’t do whatever the hell you want. All those things you’ve wanted to do but didn’t have time, or was too focused on your (hopefully former) partner, you can focus on those things now. Hike the Appalachian trail, go camping, take a trip, take an art class, join a writers’ group… anything!

If it weren’t for this heartbreaking situation, I wouldn’t be so focused on my personal goals. This is what it took to get me to spend my free time working on self-care, education, and career. Before this, I spent my free time planning when I’d see him next, what we’d do, when and how we’d move in together, how to improve the relationship. I’m learning so much about myself during this time, and for that I’m grateful.



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