When it?s over, it?s over. Stop delaying and read the signs.
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash
by: E.B. Johnson
Our partners can form a critical cornerstone of our lives, but sometimes the relationships with them can become more of a burden than we can bear. Sometimes, it?s necessary to end our romantic relationships so that we can find our way back to some sense of peace and happiness in this seemingly endless and chaotic game that is life. Whether we like to admit it ? or not ? breakups are a necessary part of life sometimes, though that doesn?t make them any easier to bear.
Partnerships that drain us and make us miserable are not normal. A romance in which one person has all the power and the other has none is not a romance at all. Healthy relationships are all about give and take, and we can feel when they?re right and when they are not. We all deserve partners who love us, respect us and give us the things we need. Sometimes, however, that requires taking a stand and creating the space that?s needed for the right person to come in.
Our relationships are a part of who we are.
Despite what maade-for-tv-movies have led us to believe, not all relationships are meant to last forever. This does not mean, however, that our relationships are not an important part of who we are. They make a massive difference to both our self-confidence and our outward relations. Our relationships shape our perspective of the world and our place in it, but they can also leave us shattered, unhappy and looking for a way out.
Our relationships have a profound impact on our beliefs and the way we see ourselves in the world around us. Through our relationships, we learn how to better connect with people, and we learn how to be vulnerable; opening up in new and special ways that can make it hard to stomach the rejection that inherently comes along with a break up.
A breakup is an undoing. No matter how strong or independent we might perceive ourselves (or our partners) to be within that relationship, the loss of it is still a major shift that sends ripples of devstation throughout our entire existence. Every corner of our lives and self is touched by the ending of our romantic relationships, but there are always concete signs that it?s the right choice to make for our longterm peace of mind.
Why we?re so scared to let bad relationships go.
We don?t just wake up one day and decide to stay in a bad relationship. It?s a process that happens slowly, and it?s one that?s impacted by a number of factors (not least of which can be our history of childhood trauma). Part of cultivating the courage we need to end things is understanding why we?re so afraid to end them in the first place.
Imbalances of power
When experience an imbalance of power in our relationships, it can be hard to gather the courage we need to free ourselves from a bad relationship. Going far beyond simply telling the other person what to do, power can be exerted in a relationship in a number of ways. One common means of consolidating power is the restriction of finances ? something which forces one party in the relationship to become physically and emotionally reliant on the other person when it comes to any decision.
Broken and delusional perspectives are a common reason we find ourselves sticking around in relationships that are toxic, dead or unhealthy. Failing to see things for what they are, or investing in delusional ideas and beliefs can cause you to become so fearful that you cannot imagine a life without yuor partner (no matter how unhappy you might be). One such delusional or skewed perspective is that of age, or believing it?s too late to move on and be happy.
Society plays a major role in defining us, and it plays a major role in defining our relationships too. The pressure of society is all around us, and it can make it hard to summon the courage we need to do what?s right for ourselves. This kind of pressure might tell us that breaking up is shameful, or it might lead us to believe that it?s an unacceptable road to take. Both instances are untrue, but that means little when you?re being crushed beneath the weight of society?s expectations.
Shame and guilt
Erroneous feelings of shame and guilt are one of the biggest reasons we so often fail to exit relationships that are no longer for us. Ending a partnership can feel like a failure, and those feelings of failure can be impacted by the half-informed reactions of friends or family who don?t have the full picture. In order to move past these emotions, we have to understand that there is nothing wrong with ending a relationship. Our lives have finite space in them. If we want the right people to come in, we have to move the wrong people out; and understand that we have a sovereign right to do so.
Fear of being alone
When you?re more scared of being alone than you are of living in a bad relationship, it can lead to years of misery and a failure to do what needs to be done. Some of us feel like we?re defined by our relationships, and along those lines we don?t know who we are outside of them. More than a fear of being alone, it?s a fear of being alone with yourself ? something completely different and much, much trickier to solve.
Low on yourself? Think that you aren?t worthy of having a happy life? Or that romantic, whirlwind relationship? Depleted self-esteem will tell you a lot of things, and chief among those is that you aren?t good enough to get the things you want and need. When you spend all your time beating yourself up on the inside, you allow for other people to beat you up on the outside (physically and emotionally), and you eventually stop sticking up for yourself and the things you want from this life?like a better partner.
The biggest signs that it?s time for you to move on.
When it?s time for things to end, there?s always a sign; but it?s up to us to spot those signs and read them for what they are. Whether it?s unbridgeable space, abuse or just a general lack of disregard: when our relationships are over, they always tell us through simple signs like the ones below.
One of the biggest signs that it?s time to move on is widening of space that can?t be bridged. Sometimes, people grow apart and there?s nothing that can be done about it. The things we enjoy change; the things we want chage. As the days go on, we become different people and sometimes this creates a chasm between ourselves and our partners that just can?t be overcome ? no matter how bad we might want it to be.
Unwilling to work
When one or both partners in the relationship lose their will to improve it, things fall apart fast. Relationships are work, and they take conscious commitment every single day. If you no longer have the desire to put in that work (or your partner has consciously stop putting in the hours as well) things will become stagnant and both parties will become frozen and unhappy. In order to create lasting partnerships that work, we have to put in work.
Abuse of any kind
Abuse of any kind ? be it physical or emotional in nature ? is unacceptable and always a sign that it?s time to move on. When your partner abuses you, it indicates a lack of love for you and a lack of respect. Would you want your closest friends or family members to spend their lives chasing someone who despises them? Then why would you allow it in your own sphere? If your partner is abusing you or manipulating your emotions, it?s always a sign that it?s time to cut the cord. They don?t love you and they never will.
Communication is a crucial part of any relationship ? be that romantic or platonic. It?s especially useful in our romantic partnerships, however, and a basis for our ability to stay together, overcome and connect. When one partner stops communicating, or the communication between the two of you breaks down entirely, it might be a sign that things are coming to a halt. We should talk about everything with our partners, and we should always feel safe to express ourselves and what we need as well.
Misery, misery, misery
Do you just feel miserable, no matter how hard you try to make your relationship work? Done all the therapy, read all the books, and still struggling to connect or enjoy one another? Unhappiness is always a sign that something is wrong, but if that happiness persists even after all your conflicts have been resolved? That?s a sign that there may be a serious disconnect that neither one of you is capable of repairing.
Not meeting needs
Partnerships are all about give and take, and that requires both parties to be engaged and eager. Our partners have needs within a relationship that require us to be attentive and present, just as we have needs or expectations within a relationship that require their attention and commitment. When one partner stops showing up, or just flat-out refuses to live up to their part of the give-and-take contract, it leads to a serious imbalance. It can also be an indication that you?re dealing with a relationship that needs to be reconsidered.
Imbalance in a relationship is always a problem, and that doesn?t matter if it?s an emotional imbalance (i.e. one partner who is always there for the other in times of hardship, without getting the same in return) or a physical one (e.g. a partner who controls all the money). If you?re dealing with an imbalance that leaves you powerless or angry, it?s time to reassess where you?re at and reassess what type of partnership you truly want to create. Truly healthy and happy relationships are balanced ones, and ones in which both partners strive to create a sense of equality.
Sex is an important part of any relationship, but so too is emotional initmacy. If you and your partner have stopped getting down in the bedroom and stopped sharing your internal environments with one another, it?s a sign that the gap between you is widening. Though these are things that can be resolved with the right commitment (on both sides), they can quickly spiral our of control and lead to an inevitable severing.
Loss of values
Though we don?t often consider it, our values are the critical compass by which we navigate our lives. Our values guide us, and they direct us toward our meaning. They give us confidence, and help to instill in us the belief that we know where we?re going. When your partner forces you to compromise your values, it?s a sign of disrespect, and a sign that they give little value to your person or your boundaries.
The best ways to end your relationship and move on to better things.
If you?ve realized that your relationship is no longer the fit that you thought it was, you can learn how to move on and you can do it before it?s too late. No matter what stage of the journey your partnership is in, it?s okay to walk away and find things you need in order to feel capable, happy and fulfilled in this life. It?s a journey that?s not easy, but it?s a journey with beautiful rewards on the other side. Rewards only we can access by tapping into our bigger natures.
1. Always start with honesty
Honesty is the first step on any journey, and it?s one that begins within. Being honest is a crucial object to keep in sight when navigating any stage of any breakup, and goes hand-in-hand with respect to ensure that we come out on the other side of the experience better and more knowledgeable than we were before.
Start by getting honest with yourself, and getting brutally honest about your relationship. Don?t drag your partner into the mix until you are certain you yourself know what?s going wrong and what?s going right. Right it out in a journal, open up to a friend. How you go about getting honest doesn?t matter, but what does matter is facing up to your feelings and facing up to the facts.
Once you?re completely in possession of how you feel you have to involve your partner. Be honest with them; speak candidly and share what?s going through your mind. Don?t wait until you?re ready to walk out the door, however. If you?re having doubts, let them know early on? and give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to finding a solution. If nothing can be resolved, then maintain that honesty and ensure you utilize throughout the steps that come next.
2. Focus on respect and facts
What sets us apart as adults, and as human beings, is our ability to utilize higher thinking and social regards like respect. Respect is important if you?re attempting to navigate a breakup without all the unnecessary drama and malice. The best way to manage a relationship that?s run its course is to respectful express ourselves and focus on the facts. Anything else is useless and only goes to muddy the waters.
Once you?ve made the decision to end things, find a comfortable and safe place for both of you to express yourselves and open up a candid dialogue about what you?re thinking and what you want. Keep your voice level. Don?t raise it, but don?t shy away from it either. Avoid blaming language and only use factual examples of what you?re feeling and why.
Your partner might have an emotional reaction, or, they may want to ask probing questions or lash out to hurt you in some way. No matter what they say ? no matter how they conduct themselves ? maintain the same respect for them as you did the first day you committed to loving them. Don?t stoop to low blows, and don?t allow you emotions to get involved more than they need to be. Stick to the facts, ?I feel this, so I need this?? Leave them out of the decision (in language) entirely if you can. Focus on the things that were your responsibility and leave the rest on the table for your partner to clean up.
3. Responsibility over blame
More often than not, the failure of a relationship lies squarely on the shoulders of bot partners. Though there are certain instances in which only one partner holds the blame (see abusive relationships) ? usually, relationship breakdowns occur when both partners give up, or give in to adversity and the changing dynamics of their relationships. If you?ve made the decision to break up, avoid playing the blame game and focus instead on the things you could have done better.
Even if it?s the other person?s fault, don?t focus on playing a blame game. Instead, take responsibility for the roles you?ve played in the failure of the partnership, and express whatever feelings you need to express in regards to that theme. For example, rather than saying ?You didn?t hug me enough, so I?m outta here?? you could say, ?I?m a person who needs more physical affection, and I don?t think our needs are aligned.?
Breakups are painful, embarrassing and uncomfortable for all parties involved. If you?ve truly decided that it?s over, and you?re preparing to walk away, there?s no need mulling over mistakes you?ve already addressed. Answer their questions, give them room to express their responses, but ultimately keep it to your end of the breakdown and keep it free of blame. When it?s over, it?s over. No need to dwell on the faults of someone you?re about to let go.
4. Listen without defending
Many of the techniques above are focused on the individual experience of breaking up, but it?s important to remember that your partner is a person too, with feelings and perspectives of their own. Once you?ve had an opportunity to express yourself, it?s important to ensure they get the space to do the same, and it?s important to do so without dismissing or trivializing their perspective through defensive behaviors or rebuttals.
Drop the need to defend your actions, and drop your need to defend the decisions you?ve made. Let your partner say what they need to say, and allow them to express whatever needs to be expressed (short of outright abuse). Listen to them, and engage where appropriate, but don?t allow yourself to sink into low frequencies or manipulations.
Ask questions if you need to, and don?t be afraid to delve deeper into the point of view your partner is sharing. Even in the midst of a relationship breakdown, all we ultimately want is to feel that we?re being listened to and understood. Give your partner time to express how they feel about the decision you?ve made, and make it a safe space (free of dismissal or denial) in which they can be as open and honest with you as you were with them.
5. Always communicate in person
Making the decision to end things is difficult. Even if you hate your partner, it?s still hard to see them in pain and it can be uncomfortable to deal with confrontation that inevitably follows. All of this aside, however, it?s still important that we conduct our breakups in person (when safe to do so), and at least give the other person the respect of not letting things get lost in the nuance of text, phone or email.
No matter how long you?ve been with someone, and no matter what emotional conditions might have perpetuated you relationship breakdown, it?s important that you let them down face-to-face. When we leave things to digital communications, or we attempt to break up with someone over distance, it can cause huge misunderstandings and even nastier hangovers.
Find a place and time in which the two of you can comfortably be alone, without threat of interruption. When you?re both settled in and relaxed, open up the conversation ? maintaining eye contact and a steady voice while you explain yourself. It?s important to note here that this may not be possible for everyone, however. If you?re ending things with your partner due to emotional or physical abuse, it can be safer to use distance and utilize the help of friends and family members that you trust.
6. Make a clean break
In order for a breakup to be effective, we have to ensure that we make a clean break and give ourselves the time and space needed to recalibrate and recover. Making a clean break means ensuring that there?s no need to put yourself in your ex?s presence, and there?s no need to intermingle the complicated feelings you might be experiencing. It?s hitting the reset button with no fear of what?s waiting on the other side, but there?s some willpower involved there that has to be tapped into.
Once you?ve made it clear that things are over, make a clean break for yourself by ending all communication and cutting off all the bridges that connect you to eachother. Respect their feelings, but also communicate that you?re serious about this new change in status. Don?t keep answering the phone, and don?t check that text at 1AM. Allow yourself to heal and allow them to resolve their feelings on their own.
Hanging around, or clinging to the hangover of a relationship that isn?t meant to be will only make things more complicated. Don?t offer false hope by offering your presence. Cut the cord and give both of you a fighting chance at finding the right happiness you need to access your transformation and fulfillment. Only when we shut the door on the opportunities that aren?t made for us can we open the door on the opportunities that are. Get real about what you want in the future and stop focusing on your past by letting it ligner.
Putting it all together?
Hard as it is to admit, not all relationships are meant to stand the test of time. Breakups have the power to wreck our lives, but we can overcome them with acceptance, a little understanding, and a lot of compassionate patience. If you?ve found yourself on the back of a heartache that doesn?t seem to end, you can start healing, but you have to take charge and become determined to change your own life. No one is in charge of your happiness but you, but you?re the only one that can take control of that destiny.
Be honest, but start first by being honest with yourself before cutting any ties with your partner. Deep-dive into what?s going wrong in your relationship and what you need in order to be happy in it again. Communicate those feelings with your partner candidly, and don?t shy away because you think it might offend them or hurt their feelings. We are each responsible for our own emotions, our own reactions. Maintain respect and focus only on the facts. If it?s over, there?s no need to waste time blaming or enforcing feelings of guilt. Say what you need to say and take responsibility for your part in the breakdown. Most relationships fail because both parties fail to do the right things. Accept that, drop the blame and focus only on what you know: your experience. If breaking up is the right decision, do it in person and don?t leave it to chance and nuance. Only then can you make a clean break and fight your way back to happiness again.