Partner regularly threatening to break up with you? (14 things you can do)

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A relationship will always have its ups and downs, but to feel as if it’s on the brink of falling apart every time you disagree isn’t good for anyone.

What do you do if your partner has a habit of threatening to break up with you every time you get into an argument?

You want to be with them, but you’re wondering how deeply they actually feel about your relationship if they are always threatening to leave it.

Not only is it hurtful, but it’s difficult to feel secure and start imagining what your future could look like with someone who’s ready to take it away at any moment.

To know where to start in trying to make your relationship more stable, you need to try to work out your partner’s motives when they bring up the subject of a breakup. Is it because they genuinely don’t want to be with you anymore but are scared of going through with it? Are they saying it to be dramatic? Or are they just trying to play with your emotions so that they feel like they’re in control?

There could be any number of reasons for this behavior, but you need to try to get to the bottom of it to work out if it’s worth persevering and making your relationship work or if you’re better off without them.

Read on for some tips on what to do if you find yourself with a partner who keeps threatening to break up with you.

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1. Ask if they are doing it out of self-preservation.

The first method of defense is attack, and if your partner keeps threatening to break up with you, it might be because they are scared you’re going to break up with them first if they don’t.

Emotions can get out of control in an argument, and it can cause people to want to take back control by doing something extreme to end the conversation or be taken more seriously. In this case, being the one who threatens a breakup before you can.

Making big statements like this in the heat of the moment is usually something you’ll regret when you start to calm down and think rationally again. This is why your partner might never actually go through with their threat, but instead they keep repeating the same cycle and using it in every argument.

You’ll already know if your partner is the type of person to react defensively in an argument by lashing out. Hurting others before they hurt you isn’t a healthy way to communicate, and if this is happening in your relationship, you might benefit from having a conversation about how to better approach an argument and seeking the advice of a professional to help you understand each other.

2. Find a new way to communicate.

At what point does your partner usually start threatening to break up with you? Is it often at the end of a tense argument?

If it is, it might be a sign that they just don’t know what else to say rather than really wanting to break things off.

At the end of an argument, they’ve reached the point where they have nothing more to give. They say they’ll leave you if anything more is said simply because they don’t know how to move on from the argument in a different way.

This statement stops any retaliation toward them because the threat that they will walk out is there. Unfortunately, ending an argument abruptly like this doesn’t make the issues in your relationship go away and stops you from being able to work on them together.

If this is what’s happening for you, then you need to focus on finding a method of communication that works. Finding a way to express your feelings without getting into a fight will help you both feel heard and respected.

This is the key to a long-lasting relationship. Communicating in a respectful way and talking through your issues gives you the chance to understand each other better and grow as a team rather than growing further apart.

3. Find out if they’re stressed.

In a relationship, we often take out our emotions on our loved ones because they are the ones closest to us and understand us the most.

There are always times in life when stressful situations will get the better of us and we need our partner’s support to get through them.

If your partner is being particularly abrasive toward you and keeps threatening to break up, the reason for it might not have anything to do with you and everything to do with how they are feeling.

If your partner doesn’t know how to process and communicate their emotions, and they have been extra stressed recently, they could be taking out their frustrations on you and your relationship.

If you know their behavior is altered significantly when they become stressed, you can address the source of their angst and learn how to support your partner so you can overcome their obstacles together rather than having to deal with their frustrated anger. Understanding that the hurt they are putting onto you isn’t about you or your relationship will help you to see through their threats and not escalate the situation into something even worse.

This happening once in a while can be forgiven, as long as your partner learns from their mistakes and tries better next time. You’re there for each other in the good times and the bad, but you still deserve respect and for your partner to realize how lucky they are to have you by their side.

4. Give them some space.

When your partner keeps saying they’ll break up with you, it could be their way of trying to get some space from the argument.

When arguments get emotional, we can all say things we don’t mean because we’re motivated by how we feel and don’t think about what we’re saying first. If your partner struggles with confrontation, then telling you they’ll break up with you could be the only way they know to end the argument so they can have some space to gather their thoughts.

Try giving each other a little more space if the tension between you is rising. Letting each other process your emotions and work through your thoughts before speaking might not just stop your partner from getting to the point of threatening to break up with you, but it could help you understand each other better and cope with obstacles in your relationship in a much more productive and collaborative way.

5. Get them talking about their emotions.

For some people, the only option they see for stopping an argument is threatening to end the relationship. They don’t know how to process their emotions or articulate what they’re feeling, so the simplest option seems to be to remove themselves from the relationship entirely.

If you think this could be why your partner keeps threatening to break up with you, then you need to try to get them talking. They might have grown up being afraid or uncomfortable sharing their emotions, but it’s important to create a sense of safety and trust between you so you can both share how you feel and work through your emotions together.

If you are struggling to get through to them, or they are still finding it difficult to open up, try seeking help from a relationship expert who can guide you through how to better communicate with each other. Alternatively, they may benefit from some time with a trained therapist to address their reluctance to let their guard down.

6. Find out if they’re scared of commitment.

With the constant threat of your relationship ending hanging over your head, it must be hard to feel settled and trust that you’re in a committed relationship.

This could be exactly how your partner wants you to feel, never encouraging you to be too relaxed, because they aren’t comfortable with the idea of commitment.

Reminding you that they have the power to walk away and end your relationship at any moment could be their way of retaining the upper hand. They are making it clear that they aren’t ready to commit and that they don’t have to stay in this relationship.

Your relationship will never work if you’re not on the same page, and if your partner isn’t ready to commit then you should think about finding someone who is.

7. Think about if they are willing to compromise.

By saying they will break up with you every time you have a disagreement, you have to question whether your partner really is ready to be in a relationship and share their life with someone else.

Relationships take compromise. You must both be willing to admit and learn from your mistakes and apologize when you get things wrong. If every time something happens where you and your partner disagree it ends with you doing all the compromising so that they will stay with you, it’s not an equal relationship based on mutual respect.

Does your partner ever show a willingness to listen to your point of view if it’s different to theirs? Are they willing to change the way they approach things for your sake? Do you think they are capable of apologizing, or do they avoid admitting their fault in an argument and instead threaten to break up?

You can’t have a relationship with someone who isn’t willing to work on themselves. You should feel as though you’ve got the respect of your partner and that they are working just as hard at this relationship as you are.

8. Don’t be manipulated by them.

Don’t let yourself be manipulated by someone to stay in an unhealthy relationship.

If every time you disagree or want to do something your partner doesn’t like, they threaten to break up with you for it, they’re manipulating you. If they make you feel guilty for wanting to do something yourself or having a different opinion, they’re manipulating you then too.

Any time you do something that your partner doesn’t like and you are forced to choose between doing what you want and living with the threat of them walking out on you, they are trying to control you and holding you hostage emotionally.

They are using the love you have for them against you and forcing you to do what they want by giving you an ultimatum.

This isn’t for your own sake, it’s to satisfy their own need for control, and it’s a toxic relationship to be in.

It can be hard to tell when someone is using your own emotions against you, but if you’ve noticed a pattern of being made to feel guilty every time you want to do something your partner doesn’t like, or you are scared to express yourself in a way your partner doesn’t approve of in case they break up with you, then there is definitely something wrong.

If they are jealous over your attention and you find yourself seeing your friends and family less because it upsets your partner and leads to an argument, then this controlling behavior isolates you from your loved ones and fuels your partner’s need for you to be even more reliant on them.

Your love should be cherished by your partner, not used as a tool against you. If this sounds like a situation you’re in, then you need to beat them at their own game and leave for good.

9. Don’t let them deliberately hurt you.

No one wants to hear their partner suggest a breakup. It’s heartbreaking and scary and emotionally devastating to think that the person you love would even want to consider not being with you anymore.

If your partner knows how it makes you feel and yet keeps threatening it, then you have to wonder why they’d want to hurt you like that.

When we’re angry or upset, our emotions can get the better of us and stop us from thinking rationally. They could know exactly how upsetting you find it hearing them say they’ll break up with you, but in that moment, they want to make an impact and make you feel as bad as they do.

It’s a sadistic and manipulative approach to a relationship, and if this sounds like your partner, then they are someone to avoid. Hurt isn’t made better by more hurt, and no one really “wins” an argument if you love each other. You shouldn’t want to be making a bad situation worse, and if your partner is, then you can’t trust that they really want to make things better.

10. Get to know your partner’s background.

You might think that just because life seems good now, it shouldn’t matter how difficult someone’s past was because they can concentrate on their present.

This isn’t always the case. Difficult experiences from childhood or past relationships can be unexpectedly triggered in the present day.

If they’ll let you, try to learn about your partner’s past to understand the relationships they grew up around and were influenced by. Did people they love walk out on them or threaten to leave? Did they ever have the example of a healthy relationship with two adults working through their difficulties together rather than just giving up?

When you’ve never been around a supportive, loving relationship and you’re used to people leaving when times get tough, it can be difficult not to react in the same way when it’s a learned behavior. Be patient if your partner has had to endure experiences like these and see if they’re open to learning and growing with you rather than fighting against you.

11. Be patient with them.

Is this the first time your partner has been in a long-term or serious relationship?

If they keep threatening to break up with you, it could simply be because they don’t know how to act in the situations they come up against with you because they’ve never gotten this far in a relationship before.

Rather than learning not to escalate a disagreement into a fight or meet at a compromise, their go-to solution could be to call things off whenever your relationship hits a bump in the road.

They need time and guidance to understand how to work through hard times as a team and not just quit. They may have never learned to talk through an argument or make a sacrifice for someone they care about. Your partner may not realize that they can be forgiven if they mess up.

It will take patience, mostly on your part, but if they genuinely want to be with you, they’ll see that every relationship has its obstacles. It’s about how you work through them that counts.

12. Don’t ignore a non-negotiable.

Is there always one conversation that you and your partner can’t see eye to eye on and they threaten to break up over?

Perhaps you avoid the subject as much as you can so it doesn’t get to that point. But, never talking about something doesn’t make the issue go away; you’re just ignoring it until it surfaces again.

It might be that you disagree over getting married or having kids. Maybe you want to move somewhere you’ve always dreamed of living but your partner doesn’t like the idea. If they have a strong reaction every time, then you need to start listening to them. Their point of view could be non-negotiable.

You might think that over time they will change their mind and they will stay with you because they don’t really want things to end, but the reason you keep getting to a point where a breakup is on the table is because your partner is trying to tell you that whatever it is you’re asking of them is a hard no.

You need to ask yourself if you love them enough to do the compromising on your side, or if they’re right and you should call it quits.

13. Take them at their word.

If your partner keeps threatening to break up with you, have you ever considered that it might be the right thing for you both?

If they keep bringing it up, there must be at least part of them that is considering it as a serious option. If you confront them, they might say that they don’t mean it. However, if it’s something they keep repeating, maybe you should start taking what they are saying more seriously.

You don’t want to be in a relationship if you are unsure of where you stand and worry that it could fall apart at any moment. You can’t settle and feel secure with a partner who continuously threatens to leave you. If it’s something they always seem to say, it could be an insight into how they genuinely feel. They’re just scared to go through with it.

Think carefully about whether or not this relationship is right for you. If your partner keeps threatening to leave but never goes through with it, then you might have to be the bigger person and make the decision that’s best for both of you.

14. Ask whether you are being as supportive as you can.

If your partner keeps bringing up the idea of breaking up, it might be time to talk to them about how they’re feeling in your relationship and if you’re doing anything to make them upset.

You might not be taking what they say seriously when they threaten to break up with you because it happens too often or they never act on it; you think they’re just over-emotional or trying to hurt you. But have you actually considered that they could be unhappy in the relationship?

Have a conversation with your partner about how they feel. Take their thoughts and feelings seriously and understand if there are any areas where you could be a better partner to them.

Relationships take continuous work, and no one is ever perfect. There is always something to work on and room to adjust or compromise for the sake of each other’s happiness. Your partner may just need to feel that they are heard by you to feel more secure and stop questioning if they want to be with you.

In closing…

In order to figure out what to do if your partner is threatening to break up with you, you first need to work out why they keep doing it.

Don’t just assume that they don’t love you or want to be with you. It could have much more to do with the relationships they’ve been around in the past. They might need your support in getting used to a more serious relationship and communicating how they feel rather than abandoning things when that’s not really what they want.

Relationships take work from both sides, and you want to do your best to avoid situations where one or both of you feel pushed to the limit and see a breakup as the only option. If you really want to make this relationship work, then learning to communicate in a healthier way should be your top priority. It may also be worth visiting a therapist or relationship expert who can help you find your way if you’re struggling.

What you need to look out for is if there is a pattern to your partner’s behavior. Do they only ever seem to threaten a breakup when they want you to change? If you feel cornered into doing what they want because they say they’ll break up with you if you don’t, and they aren’t willing to come to a compromise or talk about how they feel, then this relationship isn’t a healthy one.

If your personal choices are being compromised because of what your partner wants to do, or if you’re feeling more isolated from your friends because you never get to socialize anymore, then your partner is controlling and you should leave.

They don’t really want to break up with you, but they’re using it as a threat because they know it will hurt you and manipulate you into doing what they want.

This isn’t love, no matter what they say. No one should be “controlled” in a relationship and if the sacrifices you’re making outweigh any of your partner’s sacrifices, then you need to take the final step for them. You should be the one to suggest breaking up this time, and be sure to follow through.

Still not sure what to do when your partner threatens to break up with you? This is a tricky situation, and one that can easily be made worse with the wrong approach. But Relationship Hero can guide the way and help you achieve the best outcome. Through regular sessions with a dedicated relationship expert (by yourself and/or as a couple), you’ll learn precisely how to create a healthier and more fulfilling relationship—one that can last a lifetime. Learn more about Relationship Hero and get the kind of tactical relationship advice and ongoing support you need.

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