Relationships: How To Know When To End A Relationship

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The Relationship Riddle: How Do I Know When To Stay And When To Go?

BY DR. SARAH HUGHES

I wish I had a crystal ball. So often people come to me, unhappy in their relationship, and want to know whether they should stay in the relationship or end it.

Ending a relationship is a hard decision

Ending a relationship is a hard decision

It’s a question I can’t answer.

Because it doesn’t matter how well I know the people involved or much information I have, the only two people who really know what it’s like to be in that relationship, are the two people in it.

What I do know is that what keeps people feeling stuck and unsure when they’re trying to make the decision to end a relationship, is the unknown…

If I go, will I meet someone else or be alone for the rest of my life?
If I stay, will he change and be ready to commit to marriage?
If I go, will my next relationship be better or is this as good as it gets?
If I stay, will things improve? Will he change his priorities and spend more time with me?

Basing your decision to stay or go on what ifs is impossible. The future is too unknown. That said, the trajectory of your relationship is telling. If your partner has become more and more career-focused over the course of your 7 year relationship, it’s unlikely they’ll suddenly turn into the attentive partner you want them to be.

You can’t be sure of the future, but you can be sure of your present. How often are you happy in your relationship? Eighty percent of the time? Fifty percent? Twenty percent? Is it enough?

Does your partner match what you need? No-one will ever tick all of your boxes, but when you look at what you aren’t getting from your partner, is it changeable? Will the changes be sustainable over the longer term?

Deciding whether to stay or go is a tough decision – and one you’ll probably never be 100% sure of – but it’s a necessary decision. Stay on the fence and without meaning to, you’re deciding (by default) to stay. Deciding to end a relationship is a heartbreaking decision, but if you know deep down it’s the right thing to do, your heart will eventually catch up to your head.

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.