Is your relationship teetering on the edge? One of the hardest things to know is whether to stay or leave. Some stay too long; others bounce from one relationship to another the minute things are not peachy keen. So how do you determine if it’s time to let go?
First of all, make an honest assessment of your relationship. Because change is difficult for most of us, watch out for denial. Even when things are pretty bad, some choose to stay out of fear of the unknown. “Will I find a better partner? Can I financially swing it on my own? Will I be alone and miserable? Will the kids be okay?” These thoughts might bang around in your head, but it’s important to get beyond your fears and take a realistic look at what you have. Here are some things to ponder:
Do your repeatedly fight over the same things with no resolution?:
Partners in a good relationship are able to communicate and resolve conflict in a satisfactory way. They may fight, but eventually are willing to discuss the issue with respect for each others’ point of view. It’s very destructive if one partner dominates and won’t listen to the other’s opinion. This dynamic leads to a top dog/underdog relationship which can only breed anger and resentment.
Good communication could result in a compromise; or when both sides are aired, one partner might change his/her position, or they might simply agree to disagree without animosity. In the discussion partners don’t badger, ridicule or coerce the other into their way of thinking. If their points of view are too divergent and the issue is extremely important to one or both and cannot be resolved, it might be time to move on.
There is more hurt than good feeling:
No one should live in a relationship that hurts more than it feels good. If that’s the case, there is work to be done. Again, talking is the key. Your partner needs to know when you’ve been hurt as a result of something they said or did. In a good relationship, each one of you cares enough that you don’t intentionally cause pain. Of course, unintentional hurt happens. When it does, the hurt party needs to be vulnerable and show the hurt. Otherwise, how will their partner know? Remember, very few of us are mind-readers. The hurt partner also needs to be direct about what they want. And if, after a time, the hurtful behavior doesn’t stop, this may not be good match.
If you’ve fallen for someone’s potential thinking you are going to change them, you are deluding yourself. If what you want isn’t there now, chances are it won’t be there in the long run. Of course you can ask for the change, but it’s up to them whether to comply or not. Nagging feels bad, and it doesn’t work. Constantly trying to make someone into what you want them to be will not make a happy union. You end up disappointed and exhausted; they end up resentful for your constant reminder that they’re not enough.
Do your own work:
Be aware that just leaving without admitting your part in creating your relationship won’t lead to happiness. If you simply blame them and leave, you will repeat the same patterns with someone else. We get together, even in casual relationships, with people who offer us (directly or indirectly) an opportunity to look at ourselves and grow. If you don’t take heed, you stay the same, and will therefore attract the same. That’s why the same person with a different name keeps showing up in your life. A healthier you means a healthier choice the next time.
Acceptance is needed in every relationship:
Nobody is going to please you in every way, so accepting some of your partner’s foibles is part of any relationship. You just need to decide what you can live with and what you can’t. It goes without saying that physical or emotional abuse, is not acceptable, period.
You might try putting a line down the middle of a sheet of paper, and on one side, write what you’re getting, and on the other, what you’re not. Which list is longer? Which list carries more weight? Are there any areas where you might be contributing to your own lack? Have you even asked your partner for what you want? How have you talked to them? In a demanding, angry way, or with some compassion and understanding?
Sometimes it works to give your partner the things that you want. You want more affection? Be more affectionate with them. You want more of a say? Try speaking up more, voicing your opinions, making plans for the two of you instead of leaving it up to them. Your giving can be contagious and just might trigger their giving more to you.
For related information, see: Is this person right for me? 6 things to consider before you commit.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including www.amazon.com