Hi Lifehacker, I'm in a long term relationship (six years) that seems to be crumbling, and we're both just not happy anymore. What are some good ways to determine whether to stay and work on the relationship, or to accept that it is coming to an end and call it quits? Any advice? Thanks, Stay Or Go
Breakup picture from Shutterstock
The fact you're asking Lifehacker instead of seeking professional counseling suggests it might already be over. On the bright side, at least you'll be free to pursue your hedonistic desires via a string of meaningless "sex buddy" relationships. Swing(er)s and roundabouts, eh?
Kidding aside, it really comes down to what your reasons for staying are. If you truly love the person and value the relationship, there are various steps you can take to repair whatever's wrong (which we'll get to in a moment). On the other hand, if you're just sticking around due to apathy or a fear of being alone, no amount of advice is going to fix the situation.
So the first thing you need to do is be 100 percent truthful to yourself — are you simply prolonging the inevitable to avoid a messy breakup, or do you really want to make things work?
If the answer to that last question is "yes", you need to work out what the main problem is. Are you constantly fighting about things that don't matter? Has the intimacy and affection died in the relationship? Or are things just getting a bit stale? This article contains a bunch of safeguards designed to protect you against all these issues and more. You can also find plenty of useful information in our Top 10 Relationship Hacks.
Most relationship issues stem from conflict of one form or another. Our Lifehacker colleague Thorin Klosowski recently published a comprehensive article about what he learned during the deterioration of his marriage. It contains some great advice about what it takes to steer a relationship through serious bumps and hurdles.
For instance, he found that it's not enough to just communicate when trying to solve problems — you also need to speak on the same wavelength and use a calm and caring voice. Obviously, this isn't possible during a heated argument, but the key is to communicate in a way that produces a solution, not just more anger (so no name calling or personal insults, natch).
A crucial thing to remember is that it's what happens after the fight that's important. The majority of augments aren't really that bad and may even be constructive to a relationship — but only if you resolve them satisfactorily and leave nothing simmering under the surface. We'll leave the final word to Thorin:
"Shut up and just listen when you need to (and understand when your partner doesn’t want you to solve a problem), respect each other, and dedicate time to actually talk about things that matter (and things that don’t). It sounds simple, but it’s hard for some of us to do — and if you keep repeating those rules over and over in your head, you’ll come a lot closer."
Naturally, if any readers have relationship tips or survival stories of their own, let SOG know in the comments section below!
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.