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Is it time to leave?
Is it time to leave?

The magic has faded and the sparks have fizzled out. Arguments and disagreements are becoming routine. 

Relationships have rough patches, but how do you know when these difficult times are a signal it is time to call it quits?

This poem, written by Portia Nelson, may describe you. 

Chapter 1 

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost ...
I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it’s there.
I still fall in . . . it’s a habit.
My eyes are open. I know where I am.
It’s my fault.
I get out immediately.
Chapter 4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5
I walk down another street.
The poem can be interpreted a few ways:

1. A person is trying repeatedly to leave a bad relationship until finally, he/she is able to make it out.

2. We step into that hole in the sidewalk repeatedly, trying to end negative ways we treat a partner, or how we respond to him/her.

3. We are not stating our needs to our partner or not stating them enough or stating too many needs. 

Before you end your relationship, ask yourself these questions:
Do you like yourself in this relationship? Can you be yourself without judgment? I had a client who told me she took on her husband’s name and lost her identity after she got married. She left herself behind. When she and her husband divorced 15 years later, it took her years, and a lot of therapy, to find herself again. Her husband had squelched the confident, bright, independent and fun-loving person she was. She did not like the person she had become. She realized she was playing a part based on what she thought her husband wanted her to be. If you are not able to be the authentic person you are when you are with your partner, you may be in the wrong relationship. 

Do you feel you are doing all of the work in the relationship? Are you the one always compromising? Is there balance? Is there equality? If one person seems to control the relationship, this isn’t a relationship. Building lasting relationships is often about compromising. Couples who truly want to resolve issues will meet in the middle in most situations. Each know they are not going to get all of what they want. They look at the bigger picture. Is it balanced overall? Sometimes, things won’t go their way and other times they will. Partners support each other, contribute equally and are valued as an equal partner. If you feel you are the one always conceding in arguments or decisions, the relationship is heading in the wrong direction fast. If you and your partner are unable to ever come to an agreement on anything, you might want to consider that the relationship has run its course. 

Do you feel loved? Does your partner make you feel special? Have you talked with your partner about what you want – what you really want? Have you talked about your love language? If, after working on this for a period of time, and you continue to feel unappreciated, disrespected, insignificant or invalidated, you may be in the wrong relationship. You are an amazing person and deserve to be with someone who will treat you the way you want to be treated, who will love you for who you are. 

Do you love your partner? As your relationship evolves and each of you evolve as individuals, sometimes you grow apart instead of together as a couple. If the love is gone, you are doing yourself a disservice, as well as your partner, by staying in the relationship. If you are staying for the kids, or because you’ve been together for a long time, or because you are comfortable, or because you worry about being perceived as a failure, these are not reasons for staying. No good comes out of remaining in a loveless relationship. And, if you leave a relationship with unresolved issues, you run the risk of choosing a similar partner and the cycle repeats itself.

Are you letting your partner hold you back? Do you feel your life has been on hold for far too long because your partner is so focused on achieving his/her goals without considering you have some too? A strong relationship requires give and take, not all give or all take. You entered the relationship thinking you would build a life together. If your life with your partner is not progressing the way you want it to, eventually you will start feeling resentment and anger. 

Are you communicating? A strong relationship requires open, healthy communication – especially when discussing tough subjects. 

Are there more negatives than positives in your relationship? Are you sad most of the time or happy most of the time? Make a list of pros and cons. Do the cons far outweigh the pros when it comes to important factors in your relationship?

Is addiction or physical abuse common in your relationship? If your partner is not taking active steps to change this behavior, get out now. 

Have you tried couple’s therapy? I mean have you truly tried it? Couple’s therapy takes a lot of work and perseverance. It isn’t enough to go to a few sessions that don’t work and think, “well it’s over because therapy didn’t work.” Sometimes it is because you were not with a well-trained couple’s therapist. Try again. You may find the right match.

Have you tried a separation? Most people think separation means a breakup or divorce is inevitable. This is simply not true. Time apart can be the best thing for the relationship and each partner. It gives you perspective and helps you to understand who you truly are and what you really want. Many relationships survive because of a “time out.” 

Relationships are not easy. We are so deeply entrenched in them that sometimes it is hard for us to see how toxic they have become. When we are in love, we often see our life through “rose colored glasses” that seem impossible to remove because we love being in love, we want these feelings to last forever, and we want to save the relationship no matter what. We’ve made a commitment to this person; we don’t want to be alone; we feel it is better to stay in a bad relationship instead of not being in one at all. 

I have seen many couples who break up and make up. They are struggling to recapture that early romantic love. But, when the relationship is over, breaking up and making up only sets the stage for a final, inevitable break up.
I also see couples who are clinging to hope that something will change or that the problems suddenly will fix themselves. Unless they are seeking professional help, they are prolonging the relationship’s end.
And try not to point blame. It isn’t healthy and will not help you move on. 
Studies show that divorce affects people worse than a death. In death, there is a finality: the person is gone, and the grieving can begin. In a breakup, you may see this person often if you live in the same small community; if you have children you will have to interact with him/her regularly; if you share friends, you will see your partner or hear about him/her. This prolongs the grieving process and makes it much harder to end the relationship because it doesn't seem to end.
As you go through your breakup, these tips may help ease the painful process:Remove all reminders of your ex for a while (if this is possible). Remove his/her number from your cell phone and put away letters, cards and photos. 

  • Avoid phone calls with him/her if you can. 
  • If you see your partner, remove yourself from the situation if you can. This is not about fear or flight, it’s about recovering from your loss and hurt.
  • Get some exercise. It helps reduce your depression, improves your energy and is a great distraction.
  • Don’t choose alcohol or drugs to ease your pain. They may provide temporary relief, but they won’t make your feelings go away, and you are adding another potential problem to your life.
  • Stay busy to take your mind off your breakup. This is a great time to try a new adventure or a take a trip you’ve put off.
  • Give yourself permission to grieve. Call a friend to talk, speak to your priest or minister, or talk with a therapist. 

Before you end your relationship, I recommend you do everything you possibly can to keep it together – unless abuse or addiction is the reason for leaving. 
Take a deep breath and repeatedly tell yourself you will be happy again. 

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