There’s nothing quite like the high felt in a new relationship. The initial spark of attraction, the nervous anticipation of a text, the eagerness before a first touch and the excitement in finding out the feelings are mutual. There’s so much exhilaration in all of the ‘firsts’ of being with someone new.
There seems to be more clarity surrounding how we feel in the beginning of a relationship. This is less so at the end of one. Yes, some of us know when a relationship is clearly not working, and many of us have certain deal breakers, which if broken, spell the quick demise of a partnership. But for the most part, knowing when to walk away from a relationship is considerably difficult, confusing and heartbreaking – so much so that some people avoid it completely, staying in relationships where one or both parties mentally checked out years ago.
So amongst the mental clutter caused by your own relationship analysis, other peoples advice and the logistics of a tangled web of two interwoven lives how do people know when their relationship is over?
If the beginnings of a relationship are all about feelings, why not look to your feelings to inform you when you’re wondering whether to stay or walk away.
What is the one ‘feeling’ word you would use to describe your relationship?
If you had to sum up your relationship in one word, would that word be positive? Words that are positive and relate to loving, easiness, peacefulness, connectedness and companionship feel like a relationship is working well. Whereas negative words like hard, stressful or disconnected aren’t great descriptives for such an important component of your life. Your feeling evaluation may give you a sign that your current relationship needs to come to a grinding halt, and either decided to work on or walk from.
Do you enjoy spending time with your partner?
The point of a relationship is to be with someone, so if you’re not feeling like spending time with your partner, or if you haven’t bothered to find the energy to put into spending time together, then that is generally a sign that the relationship isn’t working. You might even find yourself wanting to spend more time apart, because that feels better to you. If there is no enjoyment in ‘togetherness’, then why exactly are you ‘together’?
How does it feel when you look at your future and see that person in it?
Sometimes when a couple grows apart, it feels as though happiness is out of reach. It is future based and you find yourself saying “I will be happy if …..” Have a deep think about two different pathways ahead of you – one is going forward by yourself and the other is going forward with your partner. Think two years, 5 years and 20 years. What does each of these pathways feel like? Is it harder for you to move forward alone, or is it harder for you to move forward with your partner. Feel it with your mind.
Do you feel like you can be truly yourself around this person?
Are you honestly yourself when you are with your partner? Many of us do this at the beginning of a relationship, but over time it’s exhausting when you can’t be authentically you. If you find yourself ‘acting’ every day and covering up your perceived problems, dark sides, weirdness or saying yes, when you mean no - then perhaps it’s time to say ‘no’ to the relationship as well.
If you were totally honest with yourself - and there was nothing to stop you – would you leave?
If you’re quick to say yes, then this exercise will give you the reasons as to why you’re staying. It will give you a clue about what areas are a barrier to you leaving as you will now be saying “I would leave, but ….”. If you struggle here to say no, then examine that further. You may find there are some blocks in relation to putting effort into nurturing your relationship. Working on these blocks enables you to start think about how you can revive it or say goodbye to it.
It’s not as clear-cut as you think to end a relationship. But you can’t argue with your feelings, and they will lead you to the right decision … eventually. Noticing them, owning them, and then expressing your feelings allows your partner to hear what’s truthfully going on for you. They then can respond accordingly with the information you are giving them, as hard as it may be at the time.
Your relationship is about you, it’s about your feelings and it’s about your life.
By thinking this way, when you say, “it’s not you; it’s me” it’s the truth.
*** As seen in Body & Soul