How do you know when to end a relationship? A tough question that most of will face at least once in our lives. It involves a lot of thought and consideration. It can be very difficult and there are many factors to consider. You may have invested many years of your life. Its hard to toss in the towel when you have been in a relationship and care for or love that person. In this article I will share some of my experiences in break ups. I will also go into how we get into relationships in the first place and how we may be able to choose better at the start to hopefully avoid a break up later.
Are they the one?
Between 1980 and 2018 the world of dating and connection through online forums has exploded. When seeking connection, whether it be romantic, intellectual, companionship or all the above, we have so many options to meet people within our community as well as those beyond it. I have never been on any online dating app. I am one of few in my generation who has not swiped left or right for a date. Although through participating in Facebook and Instagram, I have connected with strangers who showed interest or slid into my DMs.
However, I need physical interaction and face-to-face conversation. I need to feel their energy. I need to see their facial expressions and hear voice tone. I’m not trying to sway anybody from using apps to meet. However, In this era of dating with apps, many relationships are based strictly on a profile picture and a swipe. Many are focused on fast and physical and don’t take time to have an important conversations on values, goals, lifestyle, actual compatibility. On the other hand I’ve had close friends get married from connections they made on dating apps. So my heart is still open to it. I’m not signing up just yet though.
How do you know if they are the right person for you? When meeting someone new we tend to showcase our best attributes. Wear our best clothes and make sure our hair is just right, when we would typically wear yoga pants and throw our hair in a messy bun. Essentially we put on a mask to impress. Often though within a few months into a relationship little things start coming out. Certain behaviors around cleanliness or quirky comments. They might not be deal breakers but could still cause irritations. It’s important that you both are able to maintain your authentic self while merging in a relationship. If you have to tweak the way you are for the relationship to work, you should probably walk away. Yes we can accommodate each other but changing your authentic self and traits for someone else is unacceptable.
You can avoid arguments over these irritations by addressing them straightforward. Communication is so important. Tell your partner if their behavior bugs you. Preferably call it out in the moment, don’t hold it for later. They may not know what they are doing bothers you. Give them a chance and see if they are open to the communication or willing to hear your concern. If they are not open to working on the issue, it’s a good point to say thanks for the time and move on. If it irritates you now, it will irritate you in the future.
Having open communication and asking real questions is key to a successful start in a relationship. Where do you want to be in five years? What does your perfect day look like? What is your parents relationship like? What are your views on financial matters, politics, children? All of these questions should be asked. And why wait. Ask them up front. If there are conflicts that don’t match up for a long term relationship, you will know and It will save both of you time and heartache of a break up down the road.
Sometimes a therapist giving impartial feedback can help each of you to work on to improve communication. Therapy may bring up underlying issues and past traumas that you have never shared. In therapy you must be willing to have brutally honest conversations about triggers, about the past. About relationships that happened before the two of you met. Intimate relationships and family relations play a big part in how we interact with our current partner. Many people don’t want to think about their partner with somebody else. Get over yourself. Of course we’ve had other relationships. Knowing why those relationships ended or why they flourished could be very helpful information in the relationship at hand.
We all have baggage and typically we try to hide it. I challenge you to show your baggage as soon as possible. If you really like and trust someone and are considering a serious relationship, then put your issues on the table. Let each other know from the start what triggers and scars you may have from the past. We cannot read each others minds. We must be able to tell the stories of past relationships and wounds. Let a new partner know how they can be supportive if you are still healing wounds. It may have taken a decade of trials and triggers for you to end a relationship. Be gentle and know it may take that long to heal as well.
I spent seven years in a relationship. My family got attached to this man and his child. I went to soccer games, made birthday cakes, hosted BBQ’s, traveled around the world. I avoided asking the hard questions when the red flags came up. I saw them and I did not push. I did not want to confront. I lost friendships over this relationship. I lost myself by choosing to fight for this relationship.
Enough was enough in this relationship when his friends told me he was cheating. They loved and respected me, and knew I was suffering from ignoring red flags. They had proof and laid it out for me in a way I could not deny. They are two of the most honorable people that I know. I respect them and their marriage. They were gentle, kind and honest with me. I broke off the relationship. Soon after, other friends came forward saying they knew he was unfaithful too. They hadn’t know how to tell me. I was not upset that they kept the information to themselves. I did tell them how the couple spoke to me and the language and tactics they used to make it as gentle and real as it needed to be.
In the end, I was trying to model my relationship after my parents marriage of 43 years. He was modeling after his parents who split when he was young and a father who cheated and entertained many women. Our core values were not the same. Spending nearly a decade in a relationship, married or not, it’s still like a divorce when you finally say enough is enough. Now, 5 years later, I would never even entertain the same conduct. The pain I went through was lessons learned. It was hard to let go for a while, but I worked on myself and forgiveness. Learned about behaviors of why each of us were unable to make it work.
When trying new relationships I have to catch myself and old thought patterns from time to time. Ask is this a red flag or is this a trigger from a previous relationship. Taking that pause and not reacting can be a huge difference in the way I interact with a new partner. Are they willing to talk through things that are uncomfortable? Have they worked through their own issues. Conversation and communication is how we return to good relationships.
When your gut says Enough is Enough
It is time to end a relationship when that inner wisdom, gut instinct, little voice says “enough is enough!” Listen to your soul and your intuition, it knows what’s right. If it feels funny, if it feels off, trust that. Most likely whatever is going on in the relationship is off.
- Enough is enough
- when they do not show up for you the way you show up for them.
- when your friends and family don’t respect your partner.
- the 1st, 2nd,3rd and 4th time your friends question your judgment.
- when you bite your tongue to avoid a fight.
- when you are crying at night in bed.
- when your values are violated.
- when you choose their needs over your own.
- when they put their hands on you.
- when you’re blatantly disrespected.
- when they cheat.
- when they lie.
If the relationship is bringing more stress and pain, than pleasure and growth, It’s time to walk away. Your mental health is more important than the relationship. You must both be healthy separately to have any chance at a relationship succeeding.
It doesn’t matter if it is physical, emotional, spiritual or financial abuse, anything that takes you away from pursuing your soul purpose on this earth, is abuse. Anything that is being sacrificed by a relationship with that individual, male or female, is not acceptable. We saw it on afterschool movies and think that we would obviously leave if in that situation. However life gets sidetracked and abuse can be hard to see sometimes till you are in it. When there is any kind of abuse, it is time to end the relationship.
Looking back over 20 years of dating, there were many red flags I ignored out of following the model of my parents. You don’t give up. You stick it out. You give more and you fight and everything will be right. However that does not work in all relationships. I became caught up in making things work and ignoring red flags.
I have fought for men and relationships that were not worthy of my love and connection. I have sacrificed my own goals and achievements for the relationship. Trying to save the men or the relationship only set me back in pursuing my own purpose and goals. Focus on the relationship hurt me mentally and emotionally. When hurting mentally and emotionally, physical health declines as well.
I have been in different types of abusive relationships. I have had hands put on me. I have been beaten and bruised. I have seen my own blood after a fight. As soon as that happened I was gone. However the relationships that had mental or emotional abuse were harder to leave because these acts weren’t always blatant or noticed till reflection.
Even now after the abusive relationship is over and I’ve moved on with life, the shame and secrets of the past still linger. Almost every girlfriend I know has at least one story similar to mine. The stories come out when we feel completely accepted and safe. By sharing my story, I hope to give courage to others to open up and share. With all the media coverage and #metoo, we now know we are not alone in our pain or survival.
If you think your friend is being abused, be bold and ask “girl, are you OK?” Risk the friendship and hard conversation so that they can have perspective, leave, heal and thrive again. If it’s a real friendship it will stand the test of time. Maybe you noticing them and acknowledging the situation could plant a seed that will save them when they are ready. Also you must realize, even if a conversation is had, they may not be ready to leave the relationship. Do not judge this. Do not judge yourself if you are the one contemplating leaving. Let them know there’s a safe place to talk. Let them know they are seen. Let them know there are other definitions of relationship that do not look like this. When abuse of any kind is present, it is time to end a relationship.
Once you have made your choice to end the relationship, stand strong in your convictions. Remember all the reasons that have got you to this point. Write them down in case you need a reminder in the future. Sit in the feeling. Is it relief? Empowerment? Light? Sadness? Take a few deep breaths and feel all the emotions. Let yourself cry all you need too.
Sometimes one partner keeps growing while the other stays stagnant. This is enough reason to end a relationship if its affecting your well being. No harm or foul, you just grew in your own journey at a different pace. Its not your job elevate them. They must want to grow on their own.
Let go of regrets on time spent and scars gained. That time was exactly how long you needed to learn this lesson of your worth. That scar will remind you to never go there again. You survived, now you can heal, grow and thrive again. Being in a loving relationship with yourself first is how you set yourself up for a relationship with anyone else. Love yourself, respect yourself, honor and treat yourself good. Be the example of what you expect others to do if they are honored enough to cross your path.
Meeting the one/are they the one
My parents met in high school and married soon after. So did all of their friends. They still have the same close knit couples groups. I know there were plenty of issues that arose in their marriages, where my generation would say “fuck that” and be gone. But my parents and their friends stuck it out.
Many of them are now working on 45 years plus of marriage. That’s a lot to live up to for my generation and in my lifetime. I’m approaching 40, never been married, never been proposed to.
I better live to 80 if I want to have 40 years of marriage or reach that celebration milestone. I respect the anniversaries and time together but I also wonder, were those 45 years of bliss, or were they just getting by? Were they just existing or tolerating each other? Are they still in love? Are they soul mates? Did they elevate each other to be the best person they could be?
In my parents’ generation they had to meet within their community. Within their groups of friends. Economics of the time did not allow many in my hometown to reach beyond their 30 mile circle of life as they knew it. There was no Internet. There was no online dating. There was no swipe left or right on dating apps to reach for romance connections outside those that were set up amongst people you knew. They had to seek connection within the community or from the church.
Is there such things as soul mates?
I do believe there are soul mates and I that you may have many of them in your life. They are people that come into your life and show you amazing highs, love, connection, ecstasy and what the universe intended for you to feel. If the person you are dating does not feel amazing, they are probably not the right one.
Soul mates are guides and when with them we are our best self effortlessly. These are people who you should surround yourself with. The relationship you have with them may be for a week, a month, a year, and maybe for a lifetime. You will know when you encounter a soul mate. There’s no mistaking their energy. It just feels right and you fall into a rhythm that seems like you’ve known each other forever, and maybe you have.
Trust your gut on this. Soul mates are sent into your life to teach you what you need to know at that moment. You may not be able to hold them forever. Don’t try to. Be present, live in the moment, be aware and open. There’s so much to learn by these type of relationships.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.