You’re searching for ways to know when to give up on a relationship – and you’re not alone. These ideas are inspired by a reader who is unhappy about how her boyfriend treats her.

When to Give Up on a RelationshipThe Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted… But Chose to Ignore is a fantastic book that explains all those relationship warning signs you saw but chose to ignore. It offers tales of dating disaster along with advice on how to handle similar situations in your own relationship. Once you’re aware of some of the red flags, you’re in a better position to decide when to give up on a relationship. You’ll also learn how to evaluate what you’re okay with, what you’re so not okay with, and, hopefully, gain a better understanding of what kind of man, and relationship, will work best for you.

Here’s what my reader’s question about giving up on her boyfriend: “I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost 4 years, and everything has changed,” says Beauty on How to Leave a Man You Love – But Can’t Live With. “He no longer spends any time with me, he is always on his phone and is never home, he comes home at midnight every night. I have been through so much with him and every time I leave I find myself going back to him. My boyfriend cheats, stays on his phone late hours, comes home whenever he wants. No matter how much I express how I feel, nothing changes. How do I know when to give up on a relationship? I just need to find to strength to leave but it’s so hard.”

When to Give Up on a Relationship

The problem with offering tips on when it’s time to give up on a relationship is that I don’t know if you’re in a six month love affair or a 26 year marriage. Maybe your relationship is over, or maybe you just need a reality check. Every relationship is different, every couple is unique, and every woman has her own tipping point.

I hope you find a few things to think about in the questions below.  I can’t tell you when to give up on a relationship, but I can show you that you’re not alone. You might also see your boyfriend or husband differently, which may help you make this difficult decision.

Are you bored with your relationship?

This is NOT a good reason to give up, especially if you’re married with children! All relationships go through ups and downs. We fall in love and we’re intoxicated with the passion, chemistry, and sweet kisses. We expect our whole relationship to be as exciting as it was in the beginning.

Relationships can’t be continually passionate and exciting. It’s hard to be with the same man for years, to live with him, raise kids with him, figure out finances and elderly parents and retirement. Being bored isn’t when you give up on a relationship…it’s when you start digging in and remembering why you fell in love in the first place.

May you renew your love for your husband. May you find ways to reconnect and rebuild your relationship, and my you find peace and joy with him.

Is your relationship damaged beyond repair?

On Does He Love You? 7 Signs Your Marriage is Over, a reader said that she tried for years to forgive her husband’s affair. She doesn’t trust him because he doesn’t let her look at his phone and calls her paranoid. She also believes he’s cheating with someone new, even though he tells her she’s “nuts.” For her, this is when to give up on a relationship: she doesn’t trust him. His behavior doesn’t inspire love, communication, or respect.

What is “unrepairable damage” to you? It’s different for every woman. If your boyfriend is mistreating or abusing you, then you need to give up on your relationship. If you or he has damaged or destroyed the trust, love, fidelity, respect, or hope in your relationship, then maybe it’s time to let go.

I pray you find wisdom and strength to make a good decision about your relationship. Take time to think. Don’t rush into an impulse decision.

How does your partner feel about giving up on your relationship?

Saving a relationship is much easier when both partners are on board. If your boyfriend isn’t willing to talk to you, listen to you, or change, then he’s already given up on the relationship. You can’t create a strong, healthy relationship by yourself.

Here are a few signs your partner has already given up on your relationship:

Giving Up on a Relationship

When to Give Up on a Relationship

  • He is physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually abusive
  • He is selfish and refuses to listen to your perspective
  • He refuses to accept responsibility for any problems
  • He doesn’t talk about how he feels or what he thinks
  • He refuses to go to couples counseling, workshops, or retreats
  • He doesn’t care about working on your relationship
  • He criticizes you and makes you feel like dirt
  • He ignores you

If you recognize your partner in that list of negative qualities, read 5 Stages of Leaving an Abusive Relationship.

I pray that you find freedom. May you untangle yourself emotionally, spiritually, and physically from your relationship. I pray that you find God’s grace and Jesus’ love. You are loved! You are valuable, unique, and precious. Your life has so much potential. If you want to be the woman God created you to be, you need to lift your heart and bow your head. Give Him your heart.

Why are you wondering when to give up on a relationship?

Write down your reasons for questioning your relationship, either in the comments section below or in your own private journal or diary. Don’t just talk about your relationship with your friends and family. Take time to express yourself in writing, because it’ll help you decide what to do. Writing can help you sort through your emotions and clarify your thoughts about giving up on your relationship.

A related question: How have you tried to save your relationship? There are so many resources available: marriage therapy, individual counseling, relationship retreats, relationship and self-help books, pastoral counseling, even marriage encounter weekends. What have you tried? The more ways you try to save your relationship, the more confident you’ll be in any decision about when to give up on a relationship.

when to give up on a relationship

Giving up on a relationship

I imagine you’re still struggling with this decision, because it’s huge! Read How to Know When to End a Relationship for more thoughts.

Believe in yourself. Trust God. Know that all things are working together for your good, and you will make the right decision. You are smart, strong, brave, and beautiful.

I welcome your thoughts on when to give up on a relationship, but I can’t offer advice. You may find that writing brings you clarity and insight, though, so I encourage you to share your experience.


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12 thoughts on “When to Give Up on a Relationship”

  1. Hi Laurie,

    I’m Shay and my boyfriend and I have been dating for 6 years. He is 36 and I am 32. My boyfriend is one of those people who just gets comfortable with how life is at the moment. He constantly says he wants to improve things like get a better job and buy a house and he knows that he should figure out what he wants in our relationship like marriage and kids. He never makes a decision though. How I feel is different, I’m very strong willed and take risks and I am motivated. I want to tell him shit or get off the pot, you know? Im at the point in my life where I want to get married. I feel like I’m in a constant loop. Every year is the same there is no change there is no moving forward. I don’t feel like I’m in a relationship. I feel like I have a roommate with benefits. I get bitter seeing my friends get married and buy houses and have kids and it hurts because I want those things. I’ve tried talking to him about it but he always says that he doesn’t know what he wants and he uses excuses like “I don’t have the money for a ring or I need to make more money before we get married.” It’s almost like when it comes to making hard decisions he just doesn’t make them. I can get over the hurt and bitterness for short periods of time but it always comes back. I’ve thought about leaving him but I love him too much to give up. I also have a daughter from a previous relationship she is 13. I also stay with my boyfriend because of her. I’m financially stable with him and leaving would throw me back into struggling and I can’t do that to my daughter. She would also be hurt if I left him. They aren’t close but he’s been in her life for a while and is there more than her own father. I don’t know what to do. But I’m tired of being unhappy. It’s effecting my weight and my health.

    1. Similar situation here- dating someone without ambition or motivation. Says a lot of things they want to do or like to do…but haven’t rolled that rock forward..

  2. I hope someone will help because I’m very confused. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 9 years. I’m 24 and hes 27. Hes really smart and good looking and very sweet and funny, but he hasn’t had a stable job in 2 years. Hes worked here and there, but now hes been unemployed for 6 months now. He wants a fitness career and become a sponsored athlete, and he was studying to become a real estate agent be has has stopped studying. I’m the one working right now at a full time job and I help pay the bills. He claims to have some savings which he uses to help pay bills too. I’ll ask him when is he getting a job and says soon. The way things are going right now, I just feel stuck. I want to be there for him and support him, but at the same time I just dont want to be at the gym every day for long hours. I workout too but that’s not what I want to do for my life. I’ve tried to push him and have done pep talks, but I dont know, he just hasn’t looked for a job. He also says he just doesnt want any old job, he wants a good job who pays good money. I honestly do not know what to do, to stay and support him, or leave and maybe that will push him to try harder. His mom and sister are also living with us until they can get their life together, but I’ve had problems with his mom and sister and I’m just about ready to leave because I can not stand his sister. I’m just a very confused person. I love him, I do. I just dont know I’m I’m making the right decision by staying with him and seeing where things might go or If i should just leave and maybe that will push him to work harder. Please give advice.

  3. My boyfriend and i have been together for a few years off and on…he’s never physically cheated on me but i have caught him
    talking to other girls online. When i forgave him this last time he hasn’t done anything since, which is great but now my problem
    with him is he has no ambition or goals. He thinks he knows what he wants but he never tries to go forward with anything or he is to lazy to
    even try. All he keeps saying is he wants to “invent” something but doesn’t even realize the kind of process and work that it takes. I told him i would support him in anything he chooses to do but hes 19 going on 20 and still doesn’t have a clue.. i know people don’t usually know their careers at a young age but at least go to college or something..the longer you wait the more time it takes. So i am stuck in the middle of
    do i stay with him and be understanding? or move on and continue my career goals. I love him a lot but with his and i’s past and now this. i am not sure if holding on to something like this is even worth it but letting go will be so hard.

  4. Is it ok to give up on him when he isn’t ambitious. I read your blog on what to do with an unambiguous partner coupled with is, I’m even more confused. I have broken up with him a few times but we end up coming back together again

  5. Hi. I’ve been in a loveless marriage for many years now. We have been married for 32 years and our boys are grown up. Now, we seem to have nothing to say to each other. I just resent him for his comments he makes about my housekeeping ( or lack thereof) and financial irresponsibility. We can’t seem to discuss issues- he always ends up yelling at me and nothing ever gets resolved. I had an affair several years ago, just because I wanted to see if I needed to look outside the marriage to feel better about myself, but that wasn’t the case. The affair was a huge mistake and he has no idea it ever happened. Now, I find that I feel very alone and cannot imagine the rest of my life with him. Our oldest son lives at home and he has buddied up with him and we do nothing much together. Sex? Haven’t had that with him for about 8 years. I was ill, but now I am better. That didn’t change anything. I am bored out of my mind. I am in therapy and I talk with my therapist every week. Still, nothing is getting better and I’m envisioning a life without him,. I’m very scared and I don’t want to be alone. I also don’t want to be the “bad one” who broke up the family. I am so confused and alone. What should I do ?

  6. My husband and I have a complicated relationship. We met, he moved in right away, but within 2 months I came home to him gone. He went back to his ex because she was causing troubles for both of us. He was then deported, sent back to his country. We decided to talk, I visited once and he convinced me to move. So I put my life on hold, and moved to another country (not driving distance). After getting married things started coming out. New year’s eve wasn’t even two weeks of being married and he left me home alone knowing I knew noone (I found out he went out with his mistress) he came back next day. It then went he would disappear for days, weekends and even weeks and I wouldn’t know when he would be back or when I would hear from him. Before we married he told me he was hanging out with friends and/or hunting which I found out was a lie. As well, he had his mistress talk to me and tell me yes he hangs around her boyfriend and I need to trust him and not worry. They had this story where her bf was his friend, but it turned out she had no bf. As well, at one point I was so sick I was on the verge of needing a blood transfusion and I told him how sick I was but he was gone for about 2 weeks and refused to come home (said he was working but I knew different). I also found out a time before this, two weeks before our marriage, when I was sick in the hospital for a week his mistress was staying with him in the apartment my employer was paying for me. After a year of being there, dealing with the secret calls, disappearing and lies I came home (employment and immigration reasons) the day I flew home,not even 3 hours, she was in our place (this point we were renting from a family friend who took pictures and sent to me). He lied for several months. He then turned to another ex just to get $ sent to him because I wasn’t sending enough. I haven’t seen him in about a year. And I believe he isn’t talking to this mistress anymore. He wants to work things out. But I’m so badly hurt, angry and no trust that I don’t see a future because I keep saying he’ll do it again. What is the likelihood that he would change? He accuses me of having an affair and I didn’t nor would I. He accuses me of not loving him and abandoning him. But I feel he abandoned me from day one.

    1. Run, run as fast as you can. This guy is too immature for a real relationship. He will never make you happy. He sounds like a huge liar, he will never change. He will go from person to person always using them, maybe for all of his life. I do believe there are people who should never be tied down to one person.

      You are too good for him, find someone who will make you feel good not someone who brings you down and is a constant source of unhappinsss.

  7. Dear Gracie,

    Thank you for being here; takes a lot of courage and strength to write about how difficult it is to know when to give up on a relationship.

    I am sorry for your loss. The end of a marriage is a painful and difficult loss to accept, especially when you have children. You are grieving not just the loss of her husband, but of your hopes and dreams of a life together.

    I think it’s normal to feel depressed that your husband has left. I believe you will get through this, though – and you will feel strong and whole once again. You will move forward, you will find life and light, and you will be happy and even experience joy again! It just takes time to process your grief and heal from this loss in your life.

    May you find a strong support network to help you through this, and may your faith grow even stronger as you move through these days. May you reach the other side before you know it – and I suspect you will! One day you’ll realize that it’s already noon and you haven’t thought about your husband or any feelings of depression since yesterday. Slowly, slowly you will heal and move forward.

    And maybe you’ll even be glad for this new season of your life. Maybe you’ll see the blessings in the pain, the fruit after the bitterness has passed.

    You inspired me to write this article:

    How to Live Without the Man You Love

    Take good care of yourself, for you are worth caring for.


  8. hi Laurie,

    Your post has given me strength. I am finding it so difficult to let go of my marriage. I took my vows and believed in them so much.
    We have two boys , it’s been 8 months apart because things were wrong and abusive.
    He moved back with his parents who have convinced him to stay with him and he will have their house and land.
    I hoped he would love me more but he doesn’t.
    I’m very very depressed as my marriage was everything to me.
    I cannot cope that it is over & just want to be the other side where I can feel positive about life again. Every day is a struggle.

  9. Dear Tiffany,

    Maybe it’s too soon to decide if you should give up on your relationship. It sounds like you and your boyfriend are still dealing with your problems — and it really does take time to sort through trust issues in a relationship.

    Do you think your boyfriend will change? Will he be able to trust you?

    What steps is your boyfriend taking to rebuild his trust in you?

    It sounds like he struggles with insecurity and anxiety…would you have gotten back together with him if he didn’t beg and promise to trust you in the future?

    And finally…what do you think you should do? You know your boyfriend, your relationship, and your self better than anyone. What advice would you give yourself?

  10. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4 years. A year ago there was the incident that a male friend of mine has done something intimate to me which I’ve rejected. But my boyfriend was furious and thought I betrayed him. But he soon accepted my explanation about which my friend was just playing and he stayed. But he has never forgotten this incident. He always thinks that friend is up to something and I have a special relationship with him. In other words, he doesn’t trust me. And recently he argued with me because of that male friend again and I broke up with him. But I don’t want to because I’ve still got feelings for him and he soon begged me and promised to trust me in the future. I’m struggling because this isn’t the first time he did something like that. I don’t know whether to trust him to be better in the future or let go at once. Articles online suggested that if one needs to depend on hope in the future to stay in a relationship, he or she should better not to. He apologized for many times and kept contacting me. I really don’t know what to do.