"How do I know when it's time to leave?"
We usually hear this question when:
A couple has made a commitment but everything they felt when they made the commitment is now gone.
When they have grown and changed over the years and everything that was there when they fell in Love now seems to be no more.
There are times that you feel deep Love for you partner and want to stay but find yourself attracted to other people. You want to Love your partner so badly but can't seem to figure out how to be committed.
And sometimes it's simply the comfort of the familiar that prevents you from doing what in your heart you know is best.
The fear of hurting someone that you truly care about can prevent you from taking the necessary next step in the relationship and ultimately in your life.
But sometimes leaving is just about avoiding intimacy and you end up running away from what you truly want the most. You mistakenly think that you want something else, and find yourself longing for what you don't have, never truly feeling fulfilled in any relationship.
When we're thinking about ending it, usually all of these thoughts are going on at once and we don't know which one is true. It can be very hard to know what the right choice is and scary to think that you might make a mistake that you'll regret for the rest of your life.
In this post, we're going to give you a checklist to check-in with yourself about what might really be going on.
1. You're attracted to someone else.
Finding people attractive is completely normal and understandable. Ending a relationship because you find another person attractive or cheating on someone is immature and a sure path to a cycle of unfulfilling relationships.
You are not going to want to be in your relationship every day of your lives together. If you do it right, you will most of the time. There are going to be times when everything is amazing, exciting, passionate and so on. When this is the case, it's a clue to look at the relationship, not away from it.
When you avoid doing this work, you tend to think "the grass is greener on the other side." This misguided idea will cause you to re-create the same challenges in multiple relationships over time. It will also cause all of your relationships to lack depth and intimacy.
While at times, the proper choice for everyone involved is to move on, we find that the real reasons for breaking up have nothing to do with attraction to another person or an idea of what some other relationship might be like.
Looking outside of the relationship for answers is usually an attempt to avoid facing the discomfort of what being in the relationship is bringing up.
2. You haven't learned the lessons yet.
The work of a relationship is to grow. Every relationship that ends should have taught you something critically important about creating the relationship that you do want. Don't trick yourself into thinking this is about being attracted to someone else--it's not. This is about you recognizing that the qualities that you are looking for in a partner are not present in this person. Seeing that helps you to better refine and clarify what those qualities are, so that you will be more able to recognize them when you start dating again.
You should also have learned about yourself and your areas of growth in relationships: What triggers you? Where do you hold back in terms of intimacy? How can you grow in in the areas of openness, understanding, and forgiveness? What breakthroughs did you have with this person? What are the things that you tried to avoid and why did you do that?
If you can't answer questions like this or if you think that "it's all their fault," it's unlikely you've learned what this relationship had to teach you. You co-created this relationship and, for better or for worse, it didn't happen that way by accident. We never suggest that anyone remain in an abusive relationship, but if you were in one, you could learn about why you allowed that to take place in your life and what attracted you to that person.
When we don't learn from relationships, we are more likely to repeat unhealthy patterns. If you are not learning profound things from all of your relationships, you are missing the point.
3. You are being reactive and impulsive.
Not all relationships are meant to last forever, but more relationships have the potential to last than those that do. If you are reacting harshly you'll leave relationships that could last. We always recommend that you try to work it out first.
If you are thinking you want to leave, sit with it for a while. Talk to some trustworthy friends or mentors about it. This is a great time to work with a coach as well. When you don't do this work on the front end, you will likely regret leaving. You will also find yourself repeating these patterns in future relationships because you've missed out on the learning and growth that would come from doing the work now in the current relationship.
We also see that when couples come together, choose to stick to the commitment they've made and do the work that it calls for, the desire to leave is often gone and their relationship becomes much deeper as a result. Even in the instances when they do end the relationship, they usually end on understanding terms, have supported each other and better prepared each other for the next stage of their lives.
Don't be quick to leave the relationship; be quick to stay in it. If you do the work and in your heart still feel that you should leave, you'll know when the right time is.
4. You haven't tried everything yet.
The idea that the right relationship will "feel right" and "just work" is false. No relationship "just works". Relationships succeed because of the conscious effort and intention that is put into them and because both partners want it to work.
You may feel a sense of dissatisfaction but not see that it's tied to any particular thing. You in some way feel that you are not getting what you want from the relationship and are angry or frustrated about this. Have you identified what it is that you truly want from your partner and how to talk to them about it? Often they will be willing to offer that to you, or at least willing to work on it.
Sometimes we have an emotional need, a sexual need, or a practical need. We usually aren't very good at talking about these things. It's easier for you to assume that your partner doesn't care to make you happy and you become silently resentful about it. This builds over time and has you feeling unsatisfied in the relationship, and even start to look to have these needs fulfilled with other people.
Have you tried everything? Have you had the conversations you really need to have with your partner? Have you worked with a coach or therapist together, or even separately? There are people who don't care to fulfill your needs in relationships but have you really figured out if that's the case with you partner? Have you done everything you could do? If not, then how will you really know if this could have worked or not?
You will only have an incredible relationship when you are willing to do whatever it takes to have one. People who have relationships out of convenience are always unfulfilled on the deepest levels.
So how do you know if it's REALLY time to leave? Here are a few of our rules:
If there is physical abuse of any kind, it's time to leave--no matter what the circumstance.
If there are high levels of mental and/or emotional abuse and the toxic partner is showing no real EFFORT to change. (Click here for our video on Toxic Relationships)
If the two of you want very different things or if they are unwilling to give you what you desire in the relationship.
If they consistently break their agreements to you, especially if they have cheated on you, it's highly likely that the relationship has no real future.
If one or both of you is not making each other and the relationship a priority and this shows no signs of changing or improving.
The process is very simple but not always easy. Be very clear on what you want in this relationship and assess whether or not you are getting it. If you are not, identify what you can ask your partner for and ask them for it. Have the difficult conversations and ask if you can work on it together. Do the work to help each other grow, learn from the relationship, and from the other person. Do everything you can to make it work. Don't run from the relationship; run to it.
If they keep putting the effort in, then you keep putting the effort in. If they don't, they are showing you that you and the relationship are not that important to them.
When you can honestly say to yourself that you've done everything you could for the relationship and still you don't see yourself being happy in it.
When no longer desire to be with that person.
When you're not being impulsive but rather consciously choosing to leave because you understand that this relationship is not the best thing for you.
When you are not resentful at the person but instead simply recognize that there is something better for both of you, and you honestly wish for both of you to find it.
You may not feel good about what you have to do, and you also might, but you'll know that it's right. You have learned what you came to learn, you have accomplished the growth that needed to happen, and because of that you are better suited for the next stage of your Life.
That is how you can know it's time to leave a relationship.
If you'd like some support or guidance or sorting through this challenging situation, click here to schedule a session with us.
We believe that Love makes the world a better place and we want you to have it!
Having gone through many years of the dating drama, finding and creating the Love we've always wanted, and still working on it every. single. day.
We've learned a few things about how two people can find happiness in a Life together.
Love is the most magical part of Life. If you're missing it, you're missing out.
As a culture, the way that we've learned to do relationships is not the way to find True Love. We've all picked up a lot of bad relationship habits and it's time to unlearn them. When you do, you will start to see that the Love you're looking for is well within your reach.
True Love may be hard to find, but it doesn't have
to be that way.
It's time for a new kind of relationship, a departure from the modern dating drama and toxicity that so many of us have come to accept as normal.
At The Living Relationship, we create relationships that most people only ever dream about.
For more information about how you can work with us and how doing so will transform your life and relationships, click here. We'd love to get to know you.