Thinking About Leaving Your Partner? Here's How To Tell If It's Normal Doubt Or A Red Flag

A misunderstanding, a blowout fight, realizing your partner can't stand your favorite music — there are a lot of reasons you might have doubts about your relationship. Whether you believe in soulmates or not, there's often pressure to find "the one" and live happily ever after. This can make it especially scary to imagine yourself coupling up with the wrong person.

You might turn to astrological birth charts or personality tests to try to gauge your compatibility with your significant other, whether these tools are actually accurate or not. And chances are, you've wished you had a crystal ball that could reveal your future so you'd know if you should stay with a partner.

Without psychic powers, though, we're all left to our own devices, scanning for red flags and trying to tap into those gut feelings. So if you notice yourself feeling uncertain about the state of your relationship, how do you know when the feeling is normal relationship jitters or something more troubling? Here's the information you need to get to the bottom of those big questions.

Doubts don't always mean your relationship is doomed

You may have chosen your partner because you effortlessly clicked on the first date or have a blast bonding over a shared hobby, but even the happiest relationships aren't always smooth sailing. As Genesis Games, a relationship therapist, shared with Well+Good, doubts are likely to plague new relationships, long-distance partners, or people who have been betrayed in the past. However, question marks can pop up in any relationship. Games even adds, "Not having any doubts ever would be a huge red flag to me."

In some cases, doubts say more about our own personal troubles than they do about the relationship. For example, an insecure attachment style can manifest as doubting or seeing fault in a relationship, according to WebMD notes that relationship OCD can also trigger obsessive, and often negative, thoughts about relationships.

If doubts are creeping into your love life, consider if they're something new or if they've made an appearance in the majority of your relationships. If questioning your romantic partners feels like second nature, self-development work, as well as therapy with a professional, may offer a new perspective and help you learn healthier relationship scripts.

When to listen to your doubts — and when to stay

If you're thinking of leaving your partner just after an argument or other setback in the relationship, it's best to pause before making any final decisions. "Lashing out when we are in pain is coming from what is called the 'toddler brain' or fight or flight part of the brain," Evie Shafner, a marriage and family therapist, explained to Fatherly. "So we need to wait until we can access the discerning adult brain to ask ourselves if we really want to leave."

If you're still unsure after cooling off, take note of whether your basic needs in the relationship — like mutual trust and emotional safety — are getting met. Also, consider if the issue at hand is one you're comfortable living with indefinitely. According to The Gottman Institute, an institute that specializes in relationship research, 69% of relationship conflicts are "perpetual problems" that never go away. If your doubts stem from fundamental differences between you and your S.O. that you can't imagine yourself accepting in the future, it could be a sign of incompatibility.

Still, many relationship issues are solvable, as long as you and your partner discuss them and work together to overcome them. Though it may feel awkward at first, open up about your doubts. This can help you get direct answers to your questions, like whether your partner has similar relationship goals or if you're on the same page about commitment.