We’ve all been in at least one relationship in which we were stuck on the brink of staying or leaving. Do you cut your losses and go, or do you hang in there and hope it gets better? It’s never an easy decision to make.
As a professional matchmaker, believe it or not, I spend a lot of time getting people out of bad relationships — acting as their breakup coach while they figure out what they really want. For the record, the couples I match aren’t the ones I’m coaching through breakups, but sometimes when people come to me for coaching, this issue bubbles up.
I can’t decide for anyone when they should leave a relationship, but I can tell you that the wrong relationship will keep you from finding true happiness and contentment in every area of your life.
The person with whom you choose to go through life can even determine what you achieve in your professional life. The right partner makes all the difference. It’s always tough to decide when to leave versus when to stay and work it out — your emotions make it tough to be objective — but here I’ve outlined five times you should definitely leave and five times you might want to hold on a little longer. It can be pretty simple, if you let it.
When to Leave
1. When you see a fatal flaw.
If you see something you consider a fatal flaw, there’s no point in staying around. That can mean drug addiction, mental illness (with the caveat that there aren’t children already involved), problems with alcohol, serial cheating, or compulsive lying.
2. When you feel like you have to “fix” them.
Never fix someone. This isn’t your job. They have to fix themselves. There are a lot of people who shouldn't be dating before they’ve spent a solid year on a therapist’s couch or working on their anger issues. You get the picture.
3. When you or a child is being verbally or physically abused.
Please run as fast as you can. Don’t even think about bringing children into this mess. If you already have them, that’s all the more reason to leave. Never put up with this behavior. It will affect your self-esteem and put you and your children in danger.
4. When your partner is unreasonably jealous or untrusting.
If someone has a jealousy problem, get out quick. Relationships with very jealous partners have the potential to turn abusive quickly. This could be caused by myriad things — lack of confidence, addiction, you name it. Just don’t accept it.
5. When they aren’t interested in commitment (and you are).
Men get the blame for not committing, but women are equally guilty of this. You deserve someone who wants to be with you in the long run. It’s can be painful, but it’s infinitely less painful to get out early than to try to change someone’s mind about their feelings for you.
When To Stay
1. When you have children with your mentally ill partner, and there’s potential for them to get help.
If you have children with a mentally ill significant other, you owe it to your family to try to deal with what you might otherwise consider a fatal flaw. If they refuse to seek help, aren’t consistent with medication, or otherwise endanger themselves or your family, then you start considering your other options. That’s when it might be time to leave.
2. When you have a big fight that doesn’t actually involve a deal-breaking issue.
Too many people walk away when they start to feel like maybe they grass is greener on the other side. This says more about the person who wants to leave than the other person. Commitment doesn’t always make you happy. Learn to communicate your needs.
3. When someone has cheated, but you’re both committed to healing the relationship.
If you agree that it was a onetime offense and trust that the other person is still invested in the relationship, it is possible to heal that rift. The cheater must break off the other relationship completely and seek forgiveness from you sincerely. It can be hard to heal a rift like this if you’ve aired your dirty laundry to all your friends, so if you feel like there’s a chance you’ll want to make it work, try to avoid that route.
4. When you think it really might just be a rough patch.
If you’re confident that, deep down, this person is a good person who loves you and makes you feel loved, stick it out for a while. Remind yourself that all relationships ebb and flow. Without fatal flaws or abuse, when there is much love and respect, it’s definitely worth it to hang in there. Be willing to put in the work.
5. When you’ve lost the spark in your connection.
If the partner you used to go crazy for feels more like a friend to you now, look for ways to put the passion back into your relationship. Shake up the monotony. I see too many people leave because their relationship starts to feel like a friendship. This doesn’t mean if you never felt an attraction to someone, you should date them because it’ll grow with time. It might, but it might not. I’m saying that if your relationship had passion to start with, it’s still there. You just need to find ways to get more of it in your life.
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