How do I know if my relationship is over?
Q: I’m starting to wonder if my partner and I have a future together any more. We’ve been together for a long time and we have a lot of history. I’ve not really considered leaving her before but recently I feel at times that I don’t even want to be around her, let alone with her. I’m very conflicted as to whether I want to stay in a relationship and as a result things are getting worse between us. How do I know if it’s the right time to call it a day? Should I stick it out or is it time to man up and leave her?
A: Being in love can be one of the most exhilarating and all-encompassing feelings we get to experience as individuals. It can also be soul destroying when things start to go wrong, leading us to face some pretty difficult life decisions. It’s hard to know when a relationship has run its course, emotions run high and a feeling of hopelessness can exasperate things further. If you’re questioning whether or not your relationship has run its course, it’s time to consider why and make some decisions about what happens next.
Has Something Happened to Make You Feel this Way?
Often we question our relationships due to a particular set of circumstances. If you can
pinpoint a reason for your relationship dissatisfaction then you can better understand why you feel that way. If it helps, make a list of the things you want to address as a priority. Avoid nitpicking but if there are old issues that are affecting your feelings within the relationship, which I suspect there may be from the ‘history’ mention, don’t be afraid to return to them in a constructive and understanding manner.
Once your head is a little clearer about why you’re feeling this way, you’ll need to confide in your partner and have a constructive conversation. Facing up to a troubled relationship is hard and takes courage but it’s easier than feeling unhappy day in and day out.
The Dos and Don’ts of Addressing Relationship Issues
When you’re feeling emotionally drained by a dilemma it can be easy to be impulsive with your behaviour, so the sooner you’re able to raise your feelings with her, the better. As you mention, she’s picking up that something’s wrong and it’s unfair of you to leave her questioning why. Take a big breath and prepare yourself for a frank and open conversation. You won’t know where to take things next for sure unless you do. Take a look at my dos and don’ts to help you formulate a plan.
– Spend time considering what you want to say before you say it. It’s too easy to turn a discussion about your relationship into an argument if you don’t consider your words first. Make notes if you need to.
– Be realistic and honest with yourself about why you feel this way. Sometimes we hide the reasons we feel a certain way because they’re difficult to discuss. If there’s residual guilt about your emotional concerns then things are unlikely to improve.
– Avoid raising issues that have no relevance to your relationship or dragging up old arguments. If old issues are affecting your relationship then it’s likely you’ve not dealt with a situation effectively. Ask yourself if there’s any way you can alleviate or overcome the effects of bad blood between you.
– Speak to a trusted friend or family member before you discuss things with your partner if you feel it will help. It’s OK to seek advice from those who know you best but avoid bringing up confidential advice in discussions with your partner. These conversations should help you make more sense of your feelings, they’re not ammunition to prove a point. It can also prove damaging to admit to your partner that you’ve talked so frankly about your relationship with someone else before discussing things with them. This doesn’t make it wrong but you need to be tactful.
– Choose a time when you’re both able to have a frank discussion. The end of a working week is ideal as you’ll both have some space to clear your heads afterward.
– Try to tell her your feelings in person. Phone calls, texts, emails and letters aren’t the most constructive way to address your problems but don’t punish yourself either if this is the only way you feel you can handle the conversation. Having the conversation is better than not having one at all.
– Be sure to ask your partner how she feels and listen to what she has to say. If you disagree with something she says, allow her to finish before explaining your side. Accept that you may feel differently about the same situations and that you need to be empathic toward one another.
– Work together to reach an amicable conclusion. Can you find a way to iron out the creases in your relationship together? Be open to changes and spending time tending to the cracks in your union. The fact that you have doubts about ending it means that working toward a solution before quitting is likely to be worthwhile, even if things ultimately don’t work out.
– Seek solutions and be proactive in making your relationship better as a couple. Effort from one side or the other helps but it takes two to make a strong and successful partnership.
– Make things personal. It’s easy to go on the attack when we hear things that dent our ego or feel painful to listen to. Stay calm and accept that your partner has their own concerns about your relationship.
– Use accusatory language. Avoid phrases like ‘You act like’ or ‘You don’t understand’ as they come across as you blaming your partner for your relationship failings. Instead you need to accept that these are your own interpretations and feelings about the situation and you should demonstrate you understand that. Use phrases such as ‘I feel like’ or ‘I don’t feel like’ to express your emotions more constructively.
– Wait for an argument to spill your concerns. You both need to be calm and able to express yourselves effectively. Heated discussions usually end in more hurt and bad blood which can further damage your chances of working things out.
– It probably goes without saying but avoid talking when either of you have been drinking.
– Lay down ultimatums. There is no one way to fix a relationship so if you reach a sticking point, you need to be diplomatic and find some middle ground.
– Be impulsive. It’s difficult to undo hasty actions or words.
Even with these guidelines to help you, it’s going to be a difficult conversation to have. Hopefully they’ll help you make a little more sense of things and assist you in finding a solution to your concerns. There is no easy way to improve a relationship and you’re likely to face a period of uncertainty. Make sure that in your heart of hearts you both want to make things work before continuing. It will be more painful for you both in the long run if you go through this experience without one or both of you really committing to making things work. I wish you the best of luck and hope you find a solution that leads you on the right path, whichever way you go at the crossroads.
– Hella Rude