How to know when it's time to break-up in your relationship
I have been asked this question, in many ways from friends, from clients, and from family members. And my answer always comes down to a version of these things I know to be true. The thing is you can go around and around this, but to me if you're asking the question I'm willing to bet you already know the answer.
Only they and/or you have the choice to change to better the relationship or themselves and it's something they will come to on their own- or not. Waiting for someone to maybe, possibly, change is hopeful, but the truth is you can NOT change someone.
Like Seriously, EVER.
But our ego, our minds, can really mess with us making us think we are going to make the wrong choice, the wrong decision and as a result suffer a "sin". We sit in a place that is so uncomfortable for us for fear that we will somehow be “wrong” or “bad” if we do not try and make it work. It’s as if we will be punished in some way for making a choice that is always right there in the present moment for us.
At all times we are actually always choosing one option or another -we may just not be aware of it.
You are always choosing something.
So, what is it exactly that you want to choose?
How do you actually know when it's time to break up with your relationship?
There are 3 things I know to be true:
Your voice isn’t being heard.
When you give your partners voice more importance than your own. If you have found yourself trying to understand your partner's side more often then your own, you may be putting their needs before your own. In any relationship, you learn to give and take naturally and hopefully, so that you combine your needs, wants and desires and start to create and develop a life you grow together. A life that includes your desires and the other persons. A combination that morphs into creating a life that now becomes both of your desires and dreams. There will be times where one person gets more focus and times where the other person will get the attention. But the natural flow of the relationship is a back and forth movement. When you forgo your own needs over and over "for the sake of the relationship" things may be out of balance and out of whack. When you find that you don't actually KNOW what you want and look to your partner to tell you what you want, you may be giving your voice over to the other person. And that is a sign that the relationship is in need of recalibrating to be in balance for the both of you.
2. You may be in a Co-cycle.
This is my own term that I labeled the pattern where you can tell yourself different versions of stories about this other person, but where you end up is in the same exact point every time. Meaning you can try on a different version of why you should stay together, but for some reason, you keep coming back to the same point that you aren't really right for each other. You keep going around and around trying on different versions to see if it will fit, so you can stay together. But you keep ending up in the same spot you started in. You are in a co-cycle.
It's as the old saying goes, "it looks good on paper", but the reality is you aren't really showing up as your best selves when you two are together. It's a situation where you want more than anything for it to be as you think you want it to be, but your feelings just keep saying it's not working. The feelings don't match the relationship. You want to wrap your head around a new idea, but your heart won't let it sit there. This is really about how you cannot think your way out of a situation, but rather have to trust and have faith that your feelings are trying to guide you in the right direction. This is all about learning to trust your gut.
3. You’re co-dependent.
You keep making excuses for the other person's behavior and choices. If you find yourself trying to explain away bad behavior or choices that aren't in alignment with your core values, you are walking down a slippery slope. This slope looks like it's caring and nurturing, but really it's called co-dependent. You explain choices away so you don't have to face the truth that this relationship isn't really in alignment with who you want to be. You are avoiding the truth that the relationship is in trouble and truly not in alignment with who are wanting to be or maybe how you have changed. If you've gone thru a big transformation of growth, you may be feeling compelled to make it OK for the other person. But sometimes we have to see that we have outgrown each other and that it's time to move on.
The evolution of a relationship has many variations to it. There are times where you may be getting along fantastically and other times where you can't stand to be around the other person. There are things that will test the structure of your relationship to see if it was built on sand or on rocks. And when you make it thru turbulent times, you can build a strength you may have never known in your relationship. Love in the beginning is not the same as the love after a really trying time. It changes and evolves.
But if you are asking the question, then you are at a place where you must know yourself totally in your needs, your wants, and your desires.
You have to KNOW, in your heart and soul, what your core values are and do they match that of your partners?
You have to KNOW who you are separate from your relationship and does the relationship support that or diminish that?
You have to be able to have a voice in the relationship that is heard and respected.
If you don't have those foundational pieces, then you know it may be time to break up your relationship.
Listen to what you already know because YOU, ultimately, are the only one who can answer the question.
*Disclaimer, this is in no way meant to be a substitute for formal therapy. This is merely an article of insights and observations to get the conversation moving around relationships.