We are social beings. We crave connection and relationships. Relationships can bring us much joy, fulfillment, and security. However, there are times when we have to decide whether we want to continue our involvement with a friend or significant other. How do you know when it’s not working for you?
Counsel yourself like a friend.
Ask yourself questions you would bring up in a conversation with a good friend who is unsure whether they should stay in a relationship. For example: Do you find yourself making excuses for the person? How does the person usually make you feel…positive about yourself or feeling low? There is a difference between someone challenging you to be the best you can be and someone putting you down.
Make a list of pros and cons.
It may seem trite, but it’s a useful and important exercise. The purpose is to be able to see—in print—what you view as reasons why you are in the relationship. Compare the two columns. Is one stronger than the other?
Look at the items you’ve put under the pros column. Are they superficial or important? Did you have to struggle to make this side longer?
Look at the cons. Are they serious considerations? Your not liking the way the person holds their fork is very different than your not liking the way the person treats your friends. Are any of the cons deal breakers? If so, why have you continued to stay in the relationship?
Consider a wider scope.
Think of what other people say about the person. Not that you should make your decision based on popular vote, but it’s telling if no one has anything nice to say about him or her. For example, if you repeatedly hear that the person is not to be trusted, it’s possibly an attribute the person has hidden from you or you haven’t wanted to admit was true.
On the other hand, everyone liking who you are with does not mean the person is right for you.
Tune in, and listen up.
You will know in your gut what the answer is, if you allow yourself to look inside and consult your inner guide. You may not be able to put your decision into words or explain why you don’t want to be with someone. Your ability to verbalize your reasons should not affect your decision. Trust your instincts. If you feel less than yourself when you are with that person or that you consistently have less energy around them, you’ll want to seriously consider if that person is complementary for you.
It can be especially confusing when “nothing happened” that has caused you to feel the relationship is over—no personality change, abuse, breach of trust, etc. This confusion may be exacerbated when you try to answer the “what happened?” question from others. Just because “nothing happened” does not mean you should push your gut instinct to the side. It can also be difficult to admit it’s over when we have spent considerable time in a relationship…we may feel obligated to stick it out. Many relationships have a time when they come to an end. Some relationships are for our entire lives, but most are only for a portion of it.
Remember, it’s ok to decide a relationship isn’t for you. You can honor the good memories, lessons learned, and growth experienced, and move on gracefully. This is your life, to be lived authentically and with self-love.