Red Flags & Ending Relationships
Written by Lesley Coghill, LMSW-Macro 

Healthy relationships should feel safe, respectful, and fulfilling in our lives. A romantic partner often contributes to making our lives feel bigger – expanding our friends and family to include theirs or introducing us to fun new hobbies, interests, and experiences.  

If we feel our world shrinking around us as a result of a partner’s behavior, that is a red flag for isolation and control. This may include feeling isolated from friends and family, not being permitted to go out, work, or enjoy activities we used to enjoy.  

Know the 10 Signs of a Healthy Relationship. In a healthy relationship, we own and take responsibility for our words and actions. When we disagree, we lean into healthy conflict through communication, honesty, respect, and empathy. We feel like we can trust easily, there is a comfortable pace to the relationship, and we’re not feeling pressured. We have decision-making power, and independence, and feel like our views are valued. We have valuable friendships and family connections and do not feel isolated from others.  

Deciding to end a relationship is not easy. When do you know if you should end a relationship?  

  • Maybe it’s a new relationship or you’ve only had a few dates, but you’re just not feeling a connection, or something feels off. You are free to choose for yourself what sort of relationship you want and if it’s working for you or not. 
  • You may notice some of the 10 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship which may include possessiveness, manipulation, intimidation, and controlling behaviors. These behaviors can escalate and become a pattern of dating violence. 

How do we end a relationship respectfully? 

  • First, if your partner is perpetrating abusive behavior, you have every right to end the relationship in a way that feels safest for you. Sometimes, that may be waiting to leave until it feels safe or cutting ties to that person to keep yourself safe. Support is available through our 24-Hour Help Line at 1-800-848-5991 for those experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault. 
  • In a healthy relationship, endings should be handled with clear communication and respect.  
  • Share your feelings honestly and communicate that you want to end the relationship. Sometimes a clear reason helps the other person to find closure. 
  • Focus on using “I statements” that communicate your feelings and avoid casting blame. Speak with authenticity:  
  • For example, say: “I appreciate so much about you as a person. We have been struggling to communicate as a couple and I think it is best for us to remain friends.”  
  • Avoid disingenuous statements: “It’s not you, it’s me.” 
  • Speak about what you have appreciated about your relationship, what you have learned from the relationship, and that you wish this person all the best.  
  • Avoid “ghosting” your partner by not communicating clearly or just disappearing on them.  

Everyone deserves a safe and respectful relationship. We also have the responsibility to be that safe and respectful partner in our relationships, to accept change in relationships, to be honest with our feelings, to respect the boundaries of others, and to communicate in healthy ways.  

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