20 signs your relationship is probably over

 |  Relationships

It’s really quite easy to live day to day in a bad relationship because good people don’t like to think that other people — the people they love and are committed to — are anything but good too. But…

  1. If you need to ask permission to see your friends
  2. If you have to justify extending the length of your outings beyond a set curfew
  3. And endure repeated abusive phone calls if you’re just a tiny bit late
  4. If you need to explain why you bought yourself new underwear
  5. If you need to defend shaving your legs or cutting your hair
  6. If you have to put a PIN on your phone to get some privacy
  7. If the only ideas or plans that are acceptable are your partner’s
  8. If you work all day, parent all night, and still have to do ALL the housework, cook all the meals, wash all the clothes
  9. If you need to catch someone out in a lie to get the truth
  10. If you daren’t mention male friends or colleagues for fear of an argument
  11. If your idea of happiness is defined as not having an argument that day
  12. If your friends are rendered speechless at your partner’s behaviour (even if they’re too polite to say it’s dickish)
  13. If you feel like you’re losing your mind because you can’t keep track of the stories and spin
  14. If you are feel physically scared of a reaction to something, even if you’ve never been hit
  15. If everything is always “your fault” or “in your head”
  16. If you find yourself constantly making excuses for behaviour: your partner is tired, stressed, or they’ve had a hard day at work
  17. If you feel you need to make excuses to get out of sexual contact you don’t want
  18. Or feel the need to engage in sexual contact because it’s easier than saying no
  19. If you spend hours every week fantasising about leaving and trying to figure out if you can handle the finances on your own
  20. If you know in your gut that it is over, but are holding on for the sake of your family or children

…you probably need to leave.

It’s easy to normalise and justify each of the items in the list above as “just one-offs” and separate problems, each with their own little causes and ultimately, each with their own solutions. But they are not one-offs, they are pieces of a bigger puzzle. And you probably need to leave.

(Please don’t wait 12 years to do it.)

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

14 comments so far

  1. Raisa said:

    Good for you, Jem. :) You deserve to be happy! To be honest, I was a little skeeved out when your ex was magically all over your posts straight after it ended. I thought that was a red flag.

  2. Heather said:

    These, and so many other reasons, are why I left Mike. I tell myself I don’t post about it because it is nobody’s business, that I’m past it, that it doesn’t matter, but I know deep down that I’m still afraid of his wrath if he read it.

    • Jem said:

      I wasn’t going to post about it, because likewise I feel it’s none of anyone’s business and I don’t like airing my dirty laundry in public (so to speak) but when I was running on Tuesday – running to calm the million and one thoughts floating around my head, in part because of years of shitty abuse – I realised that by staying quiet I am doing nothing to help.

      I can’t bear to think of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of women who go through this every day and think that it’s OK, or “normal” (like I did, for so bloody long).

      One of the several things that helped me see that what was going on in my relationship was NOT OK was a blog post – this one: http://www.elizadolots.com/elizas-blog/domestic-abuse-is-not-always-voilent – and so I figured if in turn, my post helps just one woman realise something is not OK, then it’s worth it.

      I’m sorry to hear you went through it too :(

  3. Jenni said:

    This list..wow. It started off pretty terrifying and by the time I got to the end I couldn’t remember at what point my jaw literally dropped.

    I’m so glad you’re not in that situation anymore. So so glad.

  4. Audrey said:

    These are all SO TRUE. I see myself in several of them from my previous, merely eight year, relationship. So happy for you to be on the other side!

  5. Clem said:


    All of these things make me incredibly angry and upset on your behalf. I'm so, so happy you got out – for you and for your kids. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be to make such a huge change.

    I think it's so important to talk about this sort of thing because so many women have no idea that this type of behaviour is abuse! A lot of people think that if it's not physical, it's not abuse. I hope that this post will be able to help someone else.

    • Jem said:

      Well that’s it exactly – I had no idea! I left a toxic home environment (not my parent’s fault) for a toxic relationship, so it was normal to me. That’s my only “excuse” for taking so long to figure it out.

  6. S said:

    Thanks for writing this Jem. Excuse my short username but I’m a customer of yours (well, I bought a script fairly recently) so I hope you understand.

    Almost all the things you listed above are painfully familiar, the main difference, i suppose, being that I’m a fella. 15 years and counting here and not yet managed to get out, but I’m making progress. Last year was the first time that I used the ‘a’ word to describe (to myself) what I was having to put up with. That was a huge step. Even now I feel awful using it to describe him – he would be genuinely horrified to think he was an ‘a’-er (I can’t even type it).

    One thing’s for sure: I’m getting a clearer sense of how unacceptable it is and how I need to act or life will pass me by. To lose 15 years is bad. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose 30.

    What makes it difficult is that he doesn’t know he’s doing wrong. I see he has problems of his own, anger issues from long ago, mental health problems that he won’t acknowledge, and I feel crap not sticking by someone who I know inside out and who, yes, has his good points. But I can’t go on. I just desperately need to get out of this harmful and controlling environment. The trouble is it needs to be amicable (because the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about) so walking out isn’t an option. There are all sorts of ways he could potentially harm me if I do that. Not physically, but in many other ways. And then there are the practical obstacles.

    But I’m getting there. Starting to plan. Finding the odd person to confide in. Posts like the one you’ve made here help more than you realise. I’m sorry to hear you went through it, but I appreciate you sharing it.

    • Jem said:

      I totally understand where you’re coming from and a big part of me thinks that my ex didn’t do the vast majority of things he did deliberately, and I think it’s caused him genuine pain to realise what it’s done to me (or maybe I am naive – who knows!) I would have almost certainly left sooner had I thought that the manipulation was conscious and planned.

      I hope you find the strength to deal with your situation in a way that works for all concerned.