Nobody likes to think about ending a relationship, but sometimes you have to face the hard truth: things just aren’t going to work out. Here are four of the biggest things to look for in a toxic relationship.
Figuring out whether you should end a serious relationship will almost always leave you second guessing yourself. You’ll think “oh, maybe this isn’t that big a deal”, or you’ll hold out hope that your partner will change. However, if your relationship falls into one of the following categories, you should probably take quitting more seriously.
Note: The following aren’t the only reasons you might end a relationship, but a lot of them fall into a few broad categories that, for most of us, are non-negotiable: differing goals, effort, trust and abuse. Let’s look a bit more deeply at each.
You’ll Resent Them If You Sacrifice Your Goals (And Vice Versa)
Life seldom turns out how we expect it to, but if your lifelong dream of settling down on a farm won’t work because your significant other wants to be a New York attorney, you’ve got cause for concern. If you two try to stick it out, both of you will dwell on the things you’re missing, causing strain in the relationship. Dr Nerdlove explains:
It needn’t be as dramatic as fights over having children or how many. . .Where are the two of you going to live: the big city? The suburbs? A house in the middle of nowhere? Are you willing — or able, for that matter — to pull up stakes if your significant other gets an offer for her dream job that requires moving across the country? Or worse: half-way around the globe?
Everyone’s familiar with the idea that opposites attract, but in reality, if you’re too different, it’s going to end up being a massive strain on your relationship. As much as you may even genuinely love each other, the cold hard fact is that sometimes being in love just isn’t enough to make a relationship work.
It’s tough to find someone whose goals align perfectly with your own. Be flexible, but keep in mind the things you won’t negotiate on. For example: if you’re not willing to make any sacrifices in your career, say so, and figure out together if you two can make it work. If not, you two might not be meant for one another.
You (Or Your Partner) Refuse To Make An Effort
Ruts don’t go away on their own, so if that’s the problem, make sure you’ve tried your best to climb out. If you’ve proposed more dates, taken more trips, been more supportive and tried to take better interest in your partner’s interest, then you’ve given it a fair shot. If either of your isn’t willing to put for the effort, then it’s fair to stop lingering and admit that you’ve already checked out.
If ideally you would like to work things out and are just questioning whether that’s possible, do your part despite your partner’s efforts (or lack thereof). Communicate and propose working on this together. If your efforts aren’t making you feel any better, or your partner isn’t perking up and meeting you halfway, let that speak for itself.
You Can’t Trust Your Partner
Trust is one of the most important building blocks of any relationship, and if you or your partner did something to break it, it can be hard to let go. Perhaps they cheated, invaded your privacy, or shared your secrets with their friends. It’s easy to say “forgive and forget”, but it isn’t so simple. If, at the end of the day, they can’t regain your trust, the relationship might not be salvageable.
If you want to try and fix it, it’s important for both parties to focus on a resolution instead of the details. Part of that is letting go of the past. Then, work to reach a clear compromise, and move forward holding true to that compromise.
If you’re the one who’s done the betraying, understand your role in the resolution. Psychology Today has another bit of advice here:
A betrayal is a broken agreement, implicit or explicit, that is considered vital to the integrity of a relationship. The capacity of a relationship to recover from a betrayal has a lot to do with the responses, particularly on the part of the betrayer to the situation. The more open and non-defensive they are, the more likely it is that there will be resolution. When both partners are committed to this as an outcome, the likelihood increases exponentially.
If you’re the one who can’t let go: it’s tough to know when to trust your gut or your mind with these situations, but this one calls for logic. Try to be objective and observe the changes your partner is making. Let the past go for the moment, and give them the benefit of the doubt while the two of you work through the situation. Encourage them to keep going in a direction that benefits the relationship, rather than bring up past actions and use them as fuel in questioning their current ones.
If one of you simply can’t bring yourself to play your part, or you have tried and it’s just not working, your relationship might be too damaged to move forward right now.
Your Partner Is Abusive
Let’s be clear: There’s physical abuse, and emotional abuse. In both cases, you should get out right away. Often the two collide, but not always. We’re often told to get out of physically abusive relationships immediately, but the damage an emotionally abusive partner can do is also significant, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
If you’re not sure what an emotional abuser looks like, Psych Central says to watch out for controlling and accusing actions. They will manipulate you with tools like humiliation and the silent treatment, and they’re often extremely codependent, as if you’re an extension of themselves rather than your own person. They might just be plain mean or condescending. Remember that the signs can be subtle.
An abusive partner will convince you that you’re something you’re not. Physically abusive partners tend to be emotionally abusive as well, but some partners are emotionally abusive without getting physical. Either way, if they attack you physically or emotionally, the shoe here fits.
Settling in a relationship with an abuser never has a happy ending. If you’re in a relationship with an abuser and your partner is already unstable or physical, don’t chance it. Get out. If you truly and honestly think your emotionally abusive partner is willing and stable enough to make a change, get professional help — you can’t handle this alone. Then you know you’ve given the relationship a shot with therapy, forgiveness, and patience. If it’s not working, or heaven forbid, you’re in danger, cut ties. You’ll be much happier elsewhere.
These are just a few of the many things that pose serious threats to relationships. There are some questions you can ask yourself no matter the circumstance:
- Have I clearly and consistently communicated the issue(s)?
- Have I done my part, and given my partner a fair shot to do theirs?
- Have we exhausted all options for improving, and things just aren’t working?
If the answer to all three of these is yes, then it’s probably time to end your relationship. It’s sad, but unless you completely cut your partner off, remember that not all relationships have to end for good. Sometimes people get so tied up in their relationship that they forget about their own personal development. You have the option of calling it quits forever, or calling it quits long enough to work on your own flaws, and trying again later.