Should I Stay or Should I Go? When Enough Is Enough in a Relationship
How do you know when to end a relationship? You love them…but you’re not sure the relationship will ever be a good one. Is there a miracle answer to the question if the relationship can get better, or if you should go? No, there isn’t. However, there are some things you can try to do to improve the relationship and if that doesn’t work, then enough is enough. You can’t stay in a bad relationship just because it once was good, holding onto the memories, or because you’re scared of being alone, or because the good bits are great even though the bad bits are…well, bad. There are great relationships and you deserve one.
What You Can Do to Improve the Relationship
Unless your relationship has reached a point where you know you can’t stay, whether because of the emotional or physical abuse, or because you’re so miserable you can’t handle another day, usually people want to try to fix things. One serious go at making the relationship work, so that they know for sure they really tried. It tends to prevent any regrets.
So what can you do to fix a relationship? I always suggest reading the following books (especially the first four):
The Mastery of Love – Don Miguel Ruiz
The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love – Dr. Sue Johnson
Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationships by Letting Yourself Be Loved – Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt
The Way of the Superior Man – David Deida
The Language of Desire – Felicity Keith (this is an online “program” or book, what have you, about making a man want you in the bedroom – I was working with someone who was working with the team who sold this, which is why I had access to it and I must say, if you’re looking to spice it up in the bedroom and understand what he desires it’s a great read. If you’re looking for a literary masterpiece, on the other hand, you’ll be extremely disappointed)
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus – John Gray
These books will hopefully help you figure out what’s working and what’s not in your relationship and give you a roadmap for what needs to be fixed, if it can be fixed. You can fix a relationship, but you can’t change a person into what you want them to be as Don Miguel Ruiz says: don’t buy a cat expecting it to turn into a dog. Either love the cat for being a cat, or get a dog instead.
Also, it takes two to tango. Your partner needs to be willing to change as well. However, often if you change, your partner changes without you having to ask them of anything. I often suggest you start with what you can do for a couple of weeks and after you’ve done that you ask your partner to join you. That said, all relationships are different and sometimes it’s a lot better to speak with your partner up front.
One thing you can do on your own is to stop moaning and start praising. Give yourself a challenge that for two weeks you will not moan/complain about your partner, or “playfully” put them down. Instead you will:
- Compliment your partner for one different thing each day (their kindness, how good they are at cooking, their strong muscles, their hotness, their looks, their driving skills…)
- When you’re out together and friends are “playfully” joking about their partners flaws, you say something like “We all have funny flaws, but what I love about my partner is that he is so outrageously hot, funny and kind anyway…” Or that you just can’t resist him when…or something of the sort. Make him feel proud in front of others. Even if your friends aren’t cracking jokes about their partners, find an excuse to praise your partner in front of them.
- Every day write down one thing you’re grateful for in the relationship.
- When your partner annoys you by forgetting to take out the rubbish for the fifth time in a row, don’t nag. Instead, when he remembers it, kiss him and smack his butt playfully, thanking him for being so marvelous. Keep this pattern with anything you want him to do: don’t nag when he doesn’t do it, rather praise him when he does.
- Anything your partner does that you enjoy, thank him/praise him for it. That includes anything in the bedroom! Give him confidence. Make him feel good about himself.
The above often helps because once relationships slip down the slippery hill of negativity people start feeling bad about themselves, because they pick up the negativity from their partner. Even if you’re only unhappy about one thing, if you walk around thinking about it and sulking about it, it will cloud everything else you do. As result your partner will no longer feel good in the relationship and start being negative themselves. It’s not like your bad attitude, or nagging, is going to make them feel like buying you flowers. And slowly love dies. It doesn’t have to though – you can change things around.
Another important thing to do before making a decision, if you’re at all in doubt about it, is to get perspective.
Make sure that you take time to look after yourself and feel good in yourself. Go to the gym/exercise. Take time to have a hot bath and meditate a few times a week. Spend time with your friends, or, if new in town, attend meet-up groups or other activities. If you can, get away for the weekend by yourself ever so often. Not only will it give you clarity, it will also give you both time to miss each other.
To be able to make rational decisions, you have to stand firmly on your own two feet. Your relationship/partner can’t be everything in your life. You need to be an individual in a relationship, not someone who gave up their individuality for the relationship, as that won’t make you feel good. In fact, it can ruin the whole relationship.
Quality Time in the Relationship
Another important thing to bear in mind is quality time spent in the relationship. If you’re always sitting in your sweats together watching movies, it’s not going to make your relationship feel particularly special. Make sure to do new things together – explore life together, whether you learn French together, travel together, go on wine tastings together, or go bungee jumping together. And get that one date night a week and that one time a week put aside for special sex. Make an effort.
Whatever stagnates dies. In your own life, just as in your relationship you need to explore new things to grow and feel satisfied.
When It’s Time to Leave
All that said, there are times when a relationship can’t be fixed. Below are some examples of when it’s really time to leave.
- Any form of physical abuse.
- Obsessive control freak mentality – they won’t let you go out without knowing your every move, you can’t go party on your own as they think you may cheat on them, they stalk you when you’re out, they interrogate you about every single thing you do, or they try to control the things you do, who you’re with and/or what you wear, eat, etc.
- They fly into rages and not just the kind of rages you can laugh about as you know they’re harmless, but rather they get really vicious.
- They have a drug/alcohol problem and they won’t face it (you don’t have to leave them because of it, but you need to beware what it means for your life if you don’t – you might want to attend AA support groups).
- They don’t really care about the relationship – you know they aren’t into it and it’s not because they’re having a busy spell at work, they simply have never made it a priority in their life. You can still be with them, but you have to stop making it a priority in yours, unless you want to get hurt. Show them they won’t get all of you unless you get all of them.
- You know they don’t envision a future with you and you want a future with someone.
- They’re going in a completely different direction in life than you are and you know your roads aren’t compatible.
- You aren’t truly attracted to them. They are that friend with benefits who work as a comforting blanket, but you’ve never truly been in love with them. Nothing they ever do will make you see stars.
- They’re cheating on you.
- They aren’t the kind of person who wants the kind of relationship you do – they will never give you the kind of attention you need.
Remember – don’t be sad to see someone go if it isn’t working out, rather be excisted that you can now find something that does. It’s never easy to say goodbye, but it’s even harder to be in a bad relationship for the rest of your life. You’re literally robbing yourself of happiness.