How to Know When it's Time to End a Relationship

couple at odds in silhouette
couple at odds in silhouette


Why We Stay Even When We Know It's Not Good For Us

How do you know when to leave a relationship? Many people are searching for romantic relationships that provide love, acceptance, respect, desire, emotional security, passion and intimacy, and understanding. These are building blocks of what comprises a "healthy" relationship.

Why do people everywhere choose to stay in relationships that no longer meet these basic needs? Several factors may contribute to this process, which is explored and discussed in this blog, including things to consider if you're asking yourself if and when to leave a relationship. The answers aren't always easy: maybe you're not even sure you should try couples therapy.

Childhood Relationships Making Their Way into Adulthood

The creation of a relationship, and its maintenance, is a process that is shaped by childhood experiences and attachments, the existence or absence of role models that define interpersonal interactions, and general life experiences. Because we are all derived from a variety of these, maintaining a healthy, loving relationship is not an easy task.

Many issues arise that often lead individuals to the often-dreaded question: Should I stay, or should I go? Deciding if and when to leave a relationship is a personal choice, and unfortunately, some of the following factors are prevalent in today's relationships.

Our self-esteem, self-image, and self-worth are very often influenced by childhood experiences. Growing up in a chaotic, non-validating environment where their feelings are neglected or minimized may lead to a codependent atmosphere, difficulties with emotional expression, and lack of self-identity, which leads to comfort in dysfunctional dynamics.

Infidelity: How Do I Know When To Leave A Relationship When Trust is Broken?

All relationships require a level of integrity to grow. Trust is one of the most important aspects of a relationship. It indicates respect, value, and understanding. Once trust is broken, it affects the dynamics of a relationship, resulting in a loss of emotional safety.

Often, women who begin to lose trust take on the role of a "detective," inciting behaviors such as checking their partner's phone or unlocking password-protected information. Ultimately, women begin to feel out of control and develop self-doubt, crossing boundaries that result in the invasion of personal space for the partner.

If your gut tells you you'll never find peace again with this person, then you know i's not if but when to leave a relationship like this that doesn't serve you.

Reestablishing trust is not an easy task. The first, and most important step, is to accept what has happened and decide whether the relationship deserves another chance. You might be going back and forth in your mind trying to decide if this infidelity signals when to leave a relationship. The decision may not come easy, but it varies from case to case.

Things to Consider

* Was this a single incident?
* Are they receptive to listening and acknowledging your feelings and emotions? *
*Are they willing and open to seeking professional help?
* Is their guard down when you have discussions connected to the infidelity?

These are all important questions that need to be taken into account in order to move forward and create a safe space for the healing process.

What am I thinking and feeling that's keeping me from moving forward?

Why don't I deserve more?

When you're asking yourself these questions, in truth, you're considering if and when to leave a relationship -- and that's the healthy first step to take in a situation like this. It is best to let go and leave with your integrity intact than to stay in a relationship where you will experience self-doubt, lack of control, and worsening paranoia.

The first step towards change is awareness; the steps to follow are to decide what's best for YOU!

Emotional Security & Codependency

Why is it so hard to determine if and when to leave a relationship that no longer fulfills your values, dreams, wishes, and goals? Women stay in not-so-great relationships for many reasons. Many believe that they can "change" their partner.

Others are afraid of being alone, preferring any company to no company at all. Still, others are hoping to relive that "high" that fueled the relationship for the first 3-6 months. Perhaps they've never considered if and when to leave a relationship like theirs.

Other factors include children and worry about divorce proceedings, financial stability, and the comfort of being comfortable. Women seek emotional security and may stay in the relationship to protect themselves from the painful emotions that a breakup may cause.

What's most crucial is to define the reasons why you are in a relationship, and more importantly, why you are continuing to devote your time, thoughts, and energy into a relationship. People who are in the endless pursuit of emotional security may end up in codependent relationships.

Codependency is defined as making the relationship more important than yourself. At times, women begin to consider their happiness only as it is related to the relationship.

Any relationship, romantic or not, should support your autonomy and self-efficacy -- the moment you begin to feel less like yourself or in less control of your life, it may be time to decide when to leave a relationship on a timetable that makes sense to you. Relationships, especially long ones, are often the hardest to leave because you have a shared history, so you're not alone if you feel like ending it is impossible.

It isn't.

Being "Needed" Doesn't Equal Being Loved

Many fall into these types of relationships for many reasons. To some extent, a codependent relationship provides one with a locus of control, which may cloud one's judgment regarding when to leave a relationship. In other words, the woman feels "needed" and may take on a role of "fixing", devoting time and energy to accomplishing any given task to strengthen a "broken" relationship.

They believe that being in a relationship is the primary goal. In reality, the primary goal is more challenging and includes ensuring one's own happiness and finding reciprocity.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Codependency arises when a partner is self-absorbed or uninterested. The codependent partner may find some reward from this as well. It is important to consider the following questions:

* Is this relationship more important to me than I am?
* What price am I paying for being with this person?
* Am I the only one putting the energy into this relationship?
* Have I isolated myself from family and friends to please my partner and take care of my relationship?
* Have my family or friends told me my relationship is unhealthy or question when to leave a relationship like this one?
* Have I isolated myself from family and friends to please my partner and take care of my relationship?

Some Thoughts That Follow Might Include:

"If I have this person, my loneliness will disappear"
"If I give give give, I am a good person, or I am a quality person."
"If I have you, I am whole, or I am appreciated."
"If I bend my values for love, it is okay."
"If I have you, I know who I am. I have a purpose, identity."

It is important to challenge these thoughts

Women begin identifying themselves with the role of the one who is in control -- but the irony is that they're out of control. They feel "strong enough" because they are able to deal with the situation at hand. They gain confidence in being able to maintain a situation that has ignored their wants, requests, and overall self-care and autonomy.

Women that present with low self-esteem may also engage in codependent relationships may not necessarily recognize when to leave a relationship. They may believe that they do not deserve to be in a healthy relationship. Many factors play a role in forming relationships, including early life experiences and attachments, both secure and insecure.

When to Leave a Relationship Means NOW -- Moving On

Perhaps you've discussed and tried out separation, but still find that the relationship isn't working. Ending a relationship entirely can be a difficult task, but in certain situations, it's essential. There are many reasons for experiencing difficulties in ending a relationship.

For many, the concept of breaking up may result in feelings of loneliness, depression, distress, and a sense of loss of self. It is crucial to be aware of your own behavior patterns, not only in romantic relationships but also in other aspects of life, such as work, finances, and friendships.

It is not uncommon to relate behaviors in which you fail to advocate for yourself in different realms of life. In many cases, fear can be the driving force for one's actions and reactions.

When Fear is the Only Thing Propelling the Relationship

The fear of experiencing uncomfortable feelings becomes the sole rationale for staying in relationships that no longer meet one's needs. Some important points to recognize and help you begin the recovery process are to remember that you are doing this for YOU!

Even though the negative feelings may be intense and frequent, it is vital to recognize that these feelings will not last forever. As humans, we are not physiologically equipped to experience intense emotions forever; instead, we are meant to adapt. This adaptation has allowed us to survive for years. It, too happens at the end of a relationship.

Accepting that the relationship is over will help the healing process unravel and open the path to emotional healing. The initial step of making up your mind and deciding when to leave a relationship may bring about renewed energy as you consider your future life.

Accept and expect that all of your questions won't be answered. In some cases, closure may not be attainable, and this is okay! Talk about the loss and start working on self-growth. Recognize how the relationship could have been different. Acknowledge factors in the relationship that you could not change but wanted to. Remember deciding if and when to leave a relationship is your decision: you have to decide what's best for YOU.