These are some signs you should not break up.
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14 Signs You Should Keep Trying To Make Your Relationship Work

Even if things seem really tough right now.

by Lindsay E. Mack
Originally Published: 

What's the difference between a relationship-ending disaster and a routine rough patch? These distinctions will vary a bit for every couple. But in general, there are some signs you shouldn't break up, even if things seem really bad at the moment. Sometimes, when you're in a strong relationship that can weather the storm, it'll make you both happier in the long run to stick things out.

First, a caveat: If there are any signs of abuse in the relationship, and you feel afraid, controlled, or isolated, then ending things is likely the best option. Is this an intimidating prospect? The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or via online chat. Surrounding yourself with supportive people is also crucial to getting out if need be.

That said, even clearly healthy relationships will have some speed bumps along the way. Learning how and when to deal with these issues — even if they're huge points of contention — is crucial for any long-term relationship. In general, though, a strong relationship will be able to withstand routine difficulties. Of course, trying to figure out whether your relationship is solid when you're in the middle of a conflict can make your head spin. To help, review these signs you should not break up, and see whether they apply to your current situation.


You express gratitude for one another


An attitude of gratitude is the basis for most strong relationships. Research shows that expressing gratitude for one another has major impacts on the overall strength of your partnership. “Gratitude is important, and expressing [it] helps your partner know what it is about them that you appreciate, respect, [and] value,” Nicole Richardson, LPC-S, LMFT-S, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper. “It is important even to yourself [that] you consider and focus on what you admire about your partner.” I mean, have you ever resented someone for being too thankful and appreciative of your efforts? Of course not.


You both speak your mind

In order to thrive, relationships have to exist in reality. That means you deal with difficult truths as they arise. “Freedom to openly communicate means that problems can be solved and worked through,” Richardson says. “Happy couples that stay together have conflict… Being able to speak your mind to your partner is just as important on good days as it is on the bad days.” Everything from political leanings to hot dog condiment preferences is fair game.


You celebrate one another’s wins

How do you and your significant other react when things go right in life? Offering enthusiastic support for your partner when they get a promotion, finish graduate school, or even survive a difficult dentist appointment is important, according to 2004 research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Couples who celebrate each other’s wins are more satisfied in their relationship,” Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper. “Doing so shows that your partner validates you, believes in you and what you are capable of, supports you, and will continue to encourage you.” Sharing in one another's triumphs tends to produce happier relationships overall.


Your sense of humor is similar

Laughter can help defuse even the most emotional conflicts, and according to Chlipala, laughing with your partner can increase intimacy. “Having a similar sense of humor is helpful because it allows you to join on something that can add joy or levity to a situation,” explains Richardson. “That isn't to say you have think all the same things are funny. It can be hurtful if one person gets offended by the other person's sense of humor.” So careful with those seemingly harmless jokes. But if you can laugh about almost anything, then your relationship will be much more pleasant and grounding.


You communicate well


Sure, it's said in pretty much every relationship article ever. But couples who have good communication skills — who are open, honest, and respectful — tend to last. “Communication is probably the most important part of any relationship,” notes Richardson. “Even our pets communicate with us, though they do it nonverbally. Communication is about being heard, seen, and valued. There are times the communication lifts us up and makes us feel giddy, and there are times when it makes us uncomfortable; both are equally important to the health and longevity of the relationship.” Communicating openly with your partner, and not expecting them to be a mind-reader, is a fantastic sign. Sometimes you have to spell it all out, and that's OK.


Your social media use is respectful

Destiny's Child said it best: "You know I'm not gon' diss you on the internet / 'Cause my mama taught me better than that." Using social media respectfully, and refraining from blasting your dirty laundry all over Facebook, is the sign of a strong relationship. “The Golden Rule is totally applicable here,” offers Richardson. “If you wouldn't want your partner to post something hurtful or embarrassing about you, then it's not a good idea for you to do it either.” Sure, those argumentative, public posts between couples are entertaining for the rest of the internet, but they can be pretty destructive for the couples themselves. Disagreeing privately is more respectful, and a sign that you both truly value each other and your relationship.


You share similar goals in life

Are you and your partner on the same page about marriage, kids, and where to live? Great. Sharing basic life goals and values is the foundation of a lasting relationship. It means you're both pulling together in the same direction. “Not all goals need to be shared, but they need to be symbiotic,” explains Richardson. “For example, if one partner dreams of staying at home one day with the kids, and the other partner is cool with that, great. If not, it's something that needs to get looked at and explored further. Think about how you want to live and [whether] each of your goals support that into the future.”


You accept each other as-is

In general, people in a healthy relationship accept one another as they are. It's a good sign if, say, you don't expect your freewheeling, artsy partner to straighten up and get a CPA license one day. “It is disrespectful to tell someone they need to change in order to suit you,” says Richardson. “There can be habits you can ask for (like putting clothes away), but expecting someone to adopt your worldview or change their appearance to make you happy is unfair. If you truly love someone, you have to love their smooth parts as well as their rough edges. Don't forget you have flaws too, and you want to be loved as you are.”


You have fun with each other

Don't underestimate the importance of joy in a relationship. “Fun and playfulness are cornerstones of friendship and flirting,” notes Richardson. “It's really important to just focus on the things that aren't perfect in relationships as well as life. Every problem cannot be solved in one conversation. It's OK to set things aside sometimes and enjoy life.” After all, who wants to be super serious all the time? That's bound to get boring.


You're empathetic to one another

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Sometimes your partner wants a patient listener instead of someone to offer advice. In these cases, being empathetic with your partner's struggles is the sign of a strong partnership. “You and your partner are growing and changing with every day and life experience,” Richardson says. “Being curious, asking questions, [and] imagining what it is like in your partner's shoes is a vital part of connection, as it allows you to know and understand your partner on a much deeper level.” You can listen without trying to “fix” anything, simply letting them know you’re there no matter what.


You have your own friends and lives

Making your entire life revolve around your SO can be draining. Instead, maintaining your friends and hobbies outside the relationship is healthy. “You had a full life before you met your partner, as did they,” Richardson tells Romper. “It's important to nurture yourself by maintaining friendships, engaging in meaningful hobbies, and developing your skills in order to be the best you you can be. We have to love ourselves well to be loved well.” It's important for your own mental stability, plus it gives you something new to talk about with your partner.


They are your go-to person

People in strong relationships know they can lean on each other. “Your partner is the first one you turn to with good or bad news, hopes and fears,” relationship expert Susan Winter tells Romper. “They are your rock, your best friend, and you know they have your back. They are your best ally and greatest advocate.”


You can’t imagine life without them

One of the major signs you should not break up is if it’s hard to picture your life without them. There will always be ups and downs in a long-term relationship, but you know it’s worth it if you see them as your future. “Thoughts of a future without your partner [will] feel empty and bleak,” explains Winter. “Having this particular person in your life makes everything better, from the most mundane chores to the greatest life challenges.”


They know you better than anyone else

Strong, lasting relationships are also friendships — best friendships. And your best friend will know you to your core. “Times when you feel lost or confused, they know how to ground you and help you find the center of yourself again,” explains Winter. “They know you inside out and can speak to you in a way that kickstarts a positive mindset.”

Even when your relationship is going through challenges, these signs all point toward your ability to work through it together. Don’t be afraid to take the time and space you need to process, then see if you can talk through things with your partner and come out stronger on the other side.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit


Barton, A.W., Futris, T.G. and Nielsen, R.B. (2015), Linking financial distress to marital quality: The intermediary roles of demand/withdraw and spousal gratitude expressions. Pers Relationship, 22: 536-549.

Gable, S., Reis, H., Impett, E., & Asher, E. (2004). What Do You Do When Things Go Right? The Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Benefits of Sharing Positive Events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87 (2), 228-245 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.87.2.228


Nicole Richardson, LPC-S, LMFT-S, licensed marriage and family therapist

Susan Winter, relationship expert and author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache

Anita Chlipala, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love

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