37920142 - breakup of a couple with a sad man in the background and the girlfriend leaving him in the foreground

I received a question from a reader:

Dear Anita,

I’m in a 5-month relationship with my boyfriend. Things were great in the beginning but it’s been rocky the last couple of months. We’ve been arguing more and I don’t hear from him as often as I used to. I thought he was “The One” but now I’m not so sure. How do I know when to give up? Should I break up with him?

Dating is about taking the time to figure out if the person that you’re with is a good fit for you. Sometimes we believe so strongly that we have met our future partner – in the beginning of a relationship. But as time goes on, we can be plagued with doubts.

It takes time for patterns to develop, and at 5 months you’re around the point in your relationship where some of the infatuation fades and you can see your partner more realistically.

I commonly find that my clients stay in relationships longer than they should. A few questions you can answer to determine if you should stay or go:

1. Are you compromising your non-negotiables?

Do you find yourself rationalizing or justifying your boyfriend’s behaviors – or your own – that go against your non-negotiables? These can be things such as he wants to live in the suburbs but you don’t, or he doesn’t want to raise his children with a certain religion but you do. Whatever they are, if you find that you’re talking yourself out of your non-negotiables to keep your relationship, it’s not a good sign.

2. Are your needs being met?

If you’re considering breaking up, you’re unhappy to some degree. It’s difficult to feel fulfilled if your needs aren’t getting met. Think of what you find yourself complaining about or what brings you disappointment in your relationship – this can help you pinpoint your needs. For example, you want more communication but you’re not getting it – is this an important need for you?

3. Have you spoken up for what you want/need?

Some people think their partner should “just know” what they want. In the beginning of a relationship, you’re still learning about each other. It takes time to be so attuned to your partner that you can anticipate his needs, and 5 months may not be long enough for either of you to know what the other person wants. It’s better to speak up for what’s essential to you in a relationship.

4. Is there effort?

Relationships take work. They require conscious effort to not only consider your own needs, but also that of your partner’s. If your boyfriend isn’t demonstrating effort – or even if you find yourself without motivation – to make your relationship better, things probably won’t improve the longer you stay together.

5. Are you able to negotiate your differences?

Differences are inevitable. Are you and your boyfriend able to find win-win solutions to the things that you disagree on? Can you live with the differences if you can’t find mutually agreeable solutions? If not, you may have to find someone who is more naturally compatible with you.

Although there are no “one size fits all” answers, these questions can help guide you in making your decision of whether there is long-term success with your boyfriend.