Recognising that the time has come to end a serious relationship is often stressful. We may have shared many good and bad times together, grown up with our partners, certainly loved them for a time. We may even still love them, but not in the way we know we should.
But there can be a lot of distress, confusion and angst over ending a relationship. Are are we doing the right thing? What if the grass is not greener elsewhere? Are we making a mistake? Will we ever find someone else, someone who cares for us as much as our partner does?
How do you decide whether it’s the right time to end your relationship?
Over time we may have started becoming increasingly irritable with our partner. The things that initially attracted us to them may be starting to wear thin. Their easy-going ways may now seem boring, lazy or aimless. We’ve become less interested in what they say or do. Perhaps our sex lives have gradually dwindled away.
Some of these symptoms may be due to stress. We may have a busy job, impossible deadlines, be juggling a lot of areas of our lives. Try to identify where the problems lie, take a break, and try to spend more quality fun time with your partner, sharing your mutual concerns. Relationship counselling may be a useful route to follow at this time.
If you’re sure your feelings towards your partner have changed, start to acknowledge the situation. He or she will always be a part of who you are, they’ve helped to shape your personality, contributed to who you are today. Give thanks for that but also acknowledge that sometimes we have to separate and move on in different directions.
Stop and consider the consequences of staying with someone out of pity, guilt, fear of causing them distress or of ending up alone. How humiliated and disrespected would you feel if someone did that to you? Caring for someone may mean saying ‘I don’t love you in the way you deserve to be loved’. This can be a very painful conversation, but ultimately it may be necessary.
If you decide to stay in your relationship, will you look back in five years’ time and regret not leaving sooner? Family pressures, financial concerns, emotional distress can all cause a lot of pressure but staying with someone for the wrong reasons can result in slowly growing to detest them. Increasing resentment can even cause health problems.
Communication is an important part of a good relationship. Falling out of love but remaining good friends can sometimes happen when open and honest channels of communication have been maintained throughout. Talking things through at the time ensures that there are no surprises, both people know how the other feels and, as such, decisions can be shared, understood and agreed together. Listening is a key part of this process.
If we come to realise that we’ve fallen out of love, caring is also about respecting the other person enough to give them the chance to find someone who does want them, someone who will love them as they deserve to be loved.
Taking a break and finding time for reflection can allow both parties time to miss each other and re-evaluate what the relationship means to them. If you’re meant to be together, time apart – ironically – could help to appreciate each other all the more.
Susan Leigh is a counsellor and hypnotherapist who works with couples in crisis to improve communications and understanding. She also works with both individuals and businesses.