Relationships are hard. There’s just no denying it. And anyone who is or has been in a long term relationship will surely tell you the same.
Even so, while there are days that are dismal, annoying, and somewhat unbearable, relationships should have a fundamental feeling of contentment and happiness.
So when is it that enough is enough? When do people realise, or when should they realise, that the line has been crossed to absolute unhappiness?
Basically, when is it time to leave the relationship and call it quits?
When Is It Time to End a Relationship?
For many people who ask themselves this question, it’s because they feel a certain way. They may identify that they’re unhappy but they’re comfortable. They may have built a life and an identity around a relationship. They also may be fearful of what’s on the other side. It can be scary to start all over again, with someone new.
At the same time, some may also feel that they’ve got themselves an excellent partner. This is a hard one, as they care for them but still have this nagging feeling as though this person isn’t the right person for them.
All of these cases aren’t ideal. In fact, they can be sad and heartbreaking. The most important thing though, is to face the reality and be completely honest with oneself. Is it time to call it quits?
Tonya Lester LCSW, a psychotherapist, comprehensively put together a list of six questions that one can look at if they feel it’s possibly time to end a relationship.
Perhaps these will help you to identify what you truly want in life and whether your relationship is worth saving or ending.
Six Questions to Ask & Answer if You Feel it’s Time to End a Relationship
1. Is the problem or issue you’re facing based on what you’re going through or who you are?
Life tends to throw us curveballs, and we go through waves of ups and downs. Sometimes, the way we feel is merely circumstantial, but these circumstances can be temporary or longer lasting.
For example, you may believe that if you had a better job with a better income, or you communicated better with your partner, things in your life would be better. It’s like chasing different things that we feel are always lacking in our lives in order to find true happiness. And while sometimes this can be true—if we did make more money, or we did have better communication skills—things would be better in our relationship. Other times, it’s merely a pattern of trying to attain the next thing, because only then we may be truly happy.
The question to ask yourself in this case is: is the chasing something you can tolerate or is it sucking the life out of you? Some people wait months, years, or even decades for changes to be made in hopes of having a better relationship, but it never really happens. This may be a sign of delusional thinking, and perhaps it is time to call it quits.
2. Give yourself the same advice you’d give a close friend.
So often, we are our own worst enemy. We’re hard on ourselves, lacking compassion or patience. But when it comes to helping a close friend or loved one, we find ourselves being more understanding, sympathetic, and kind.
If a friend came to you, describing things about their relationship that you’re going through, how would you feel? What advice would you give them? Surely you’d tell your closest friend or loved one that you want the best for them? And that they deserve complete happiness and appreciation?
3. Have you exhausted all of your options and resources?
For some of the smaller issues in a relationship, a mere conversation or two could solve the problem. But for deeper problems, what options have you taken to really dive deep into the issue or issues? Have you had candid, open, and honest conversations with your partner? Have you tried counselling? Have you explored different avenues that may help solve your grievances together?
The thing is, deep-rooted problems won’t fix themselves, and when you feel that you’ve used all of your options, tools, and resources to get to a better place in the relationship to no avail, it could be time to end things.
4. Is there only one aspect of the relationship that’s a source of anguish?
A couple may admit that their relationship is wonderful, but there’s just one little thing that’s hindering them from having a fulfilling and peaceful partnership. For example, the age-old saying: when things are good, they’re really good.
But what are things like when things are at their worst? Perhaps you or your partner have a hard time containing anger when you get into arguments, or maybe there’s an element of manipulation that rears its head at times. It may seem like one small or even insignificant thing when you look at the relationship in its entirety, but one thing can definitely make or break a relationship.
If there’s something that makes you feel completely destroyed or unhappy every time there’s a bump in the road, perhaps this relationship is not for you.
5. Are you staying in the relationship simply for the sake of staying in the relationship?
We briefly mentioned earlier that it’s sometimes easy or convenient to stay in a relationship because you’ve already invested so much time and energy into it. Starting fresh is scary and daunting, so you decide to stay in a relationship simply for the sake of staying in the relationship.
You may still tell yourself that if xyx happens, you’ll leave, but essentially, you let these things slide because of everything you’ve put into the relationship. Try to take note of when you feel that way though. Why continue to stay in an unhappy relationship if you’ve already been in it for so long?
6. Do you like yourself in this relationship?
There are parts of ourselves that make us unique and magical. Parts that we love, and that make us shine brighter. However, if you feel as though you’re in a relationship where you have to dull that shine, then it’s highly likely that that relationship isn’t for you. It’s unfair and unhealthy to hide who you truly are, your interests, opinions, and individuality because your partner either doesn’t like them or doesn’t embrace them. Hiding these parts of yourself could slowly lead to you losing those parts of yourself. This, in itself, is a much greater loss than ending a relationship.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to end relationships. It’s especially hard to end ones that you’ve really invested in, and spent time and energy to make better.
At the same time, however, choosing not to leave when your gut tells you it’s the right thing to do is almost the same as choosing to stay in a prison of your own making. You deserve all the happiness and appreciation, and it’s never too late to start over.