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7 Ways to Know That It’s Time to Let Go

Last week I let go of a relationship. Letting go wasn’t an easy decision to make but one that I needed to make for my own sanity and peace of mind.

The reason I let go of the relationship is that there was no balance in it.

I gave and gave and gave. And received very little in return.

Now, I’m a giver by nature so I don’t mind giving more than I receive. But all relationships need some balance and constant giving with little in return is exhausting.

Asking the other person to give more to the relationship produced few, noticeable changes. And so I reached a point where I decided it was best to let go and move on.

I imagine this is a common struggle. Knowing when to keep trying and when to let go of a relationship. And this is true whether the relationship is a romantic one or a friendship.

Obviously every relationship is different and there are few hard and fast rules. But here are some general rules that you can use to help you decide if it’s time to let go and move on. There rules are equally applicable to friendships as well as romantic relationships.

1. There’s no balance in the relationship.

I touched on this in my own situation. All relationships require some balance, some give and take. When one person is putting most of the energy into the relationship, doing whatever it takes to keep the relationship alive, and the other person isn’t doing their part, then that’s a strong sign that it’s time to let go.

2. You have little to nothing in common with the other person.

All relationships need some sort of basis in commonality, whether interests or values. Many relationships though form based on proximity, rather than actually having something in common with the other person. And then the relationship continues due to inertia. Other times, we start off having things in common with the other person but over time both people change and no longer have much in common. Either way, it may be time to evaluate whether to continue in the relationship.

3. You’re not a better person because of the relationship.

Relationships fulfill many different purposes in our lives. One of the most important purposes, in my opinion, is to help us grow, change and become better people. If the relationship doesn’t fill that purpose, then what purpose is it filling in your life?

4. You don’t look forward to spending time with the other person.

This may seem obvious but if you don’t look forward to spending time with the other person, then you need to seriously consider whether you want the relationship to continue. In such situations, the relationship has become an obligation rather than a true relationship.

5. You don’t feel good about yourself when you’re with the other person.

This normally happens when the other person is continually criticizing you or putting you down. On the one hand, constructive criticism that comes from a spirit of love and caring can help us see our flaws and grow as a person. However criticism that comes from a place of anger and judgment is belittling and hurtful and can even cross the line into abuse.

6. You can’t be yourself in the relationship.

If you can’t be yourself in the relationship, if you find you have to hide important aspects of yourself from the other person, then how can you truly be in a relationship with them?

7. You’re continually wondering whether or not it’s worth continuing in the relationship.

If that’s the case then maybe it’s time to stop the wondering and end the relationship once and for all. All that wondering is probably there for a very good reason!!!


The above list is by no means an exhaustive list of reasons that you may want to let go of a relationship. And I intentionally left off issues such as infidelity, alcohol or drug abuse, and physical abuse since each of those would be better covered in a separate blog post.

That being said, I do hope the above list gets you thinking about your current relationships and whether there are some that you need to let go of.

Please feel free to comment below. Have you ever let go of a relationship? If so, was it for one of the reasons listed above or for something else entirely?

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. A very useful set of guidelines!

    You made a key point, Ed, when you noted that the other person didn’t ( or, couldn’t) make the changes you needed to continue in the relationship. That is a very difficult thing to accept and move on from, especially if you really want the relationship to succeed.

    I had to do this with my partner of 12 years. I spent most of those years waiting for promised changes and refusing to accept that he wasn’t going to change. Believing in another person, being optimistic, being supportive – without a good set of limits, these attributes become prison walls. Nobody should have to wait 12 years to know for sure that it isn’t going to work.

    Thank you for writing an excellent post.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Adele! As a fellow coach, I know you understand the importance of believing in others, being optimistic, and being supportive. And as you also know, the other person still needs to be willing to step up and do their part!

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