How to know when to end a relationship can be a hard decision full of emotions. You have invested time and energy in this person and now things are not going well. Do you end it and start the dating process all over again or do you give it more time?
In my work with clients, I have found two common dating mistakes.
The first is judging and dismissing someone too soon because they do not fit the image we have in mind for our ideal partner. We are judging the book by the cover. We do not take the time to get to know the real person. He/she may be perfect for us if we just got to know them better.
The second mistake is staying in a relationship too long. We think maybe he/she will change and things will improve. Be careful here not to let the Romantic Love stage and those feel good hormones cloud your judgement. In this phase of the relationship, we tend to only see the good in the other person and overlook the things that may cause problems later on.
Here is an exercise you can try to help you find clarity.
Close your eyes and relax. Now picture your life in the future, maybe a year from now, and you are with your current partner. How do you feel? What is your first reaction? Pay attention to your body. Do you feel a smile on your face and a warm feeling inside? Or do you feel tension and stress? Now, picture your life in the future with someone new in it. Again, what is your first emotional and body reaction. Usually when people do this exercise, one of the scenarios feels better to them than the other. This can give you an idea as to what you really want to do.
Next, I want you to look at what your core relationship values really are. What are the most important things you must have in a relationship? Without these, you would rather stay single. You might need to spend some time on this to really narrow down what are the top 5 values for you. Is getting married a priority, having children, someone who is faithful and honest, etc. You get the point. These are core values in a person and a relationship that you must have! Does your partner share these values? These are areas you should never compromise on.
Now make a list of all the positives and negatives in your current relationship. This will also help you to see where the problem areas are and how they relate to your core values. It will help you get a clearer look at the whole situation.
When trying to decide if it is time to leave or if you should stay in the relationship look at how you feel in the following areas:
- do you like your partner
- are you getting your relationship needs met
- do you look forward to spending time with him/her
- are you able to work out difficulties as they arise
- do you have the same long term goals for the relationship
- do you still love him/her
- do you still have energy and motivation to be in the relationship
Look at your answers to these questions and if you did not answer yes to most of them, then maybe it is time to move on. Staying in a relationship that isn’t working and is going nowhere only prolongs the pain of ending it. Your relationship should add to your life not take away from it.
If you decide it is time to move on, end the relationship with kindness and without blaming or anger. Explain calmly your desire for something different. Don’t get caught in the trap of your partner saying they will change. You will just find yourself repeating a cycle that causes more emotional pain for you both.