Can’t Decide Whether to Stay or Go? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions

August 23, 2012  |  
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When you bring two people together, each with their own separate stresses, needs, wants and expectations, you’re bound to experience bouts of feeling unsatisfied in your relationship. You can’t possibly anticipate somebody else’s needs all of the time, and your partner cannot possibly always anticipate yours. That’s why the saying goes that relationships are complicated. It’s really not as simple as, “If I feel happy I’ll stay, and if I feel unhappy I’ll break up with him.” If it were, you wouldn’t have opened this article now would you?


Is it your ego, or him?

It’s human nature to want to feel special and focused on. That’s why the beginning of a relationship is always the best because your new guy is so curious about you, hanging onto everything you say and do. Obviously, over time, your partner will know you and you won’t be this enigmatic, magical specimen to him anymore. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t still make you feel special. You should always feel special in the eyes of your partner. That’s why you chose to be with each other. If that feeling seems to have faded, ask yourself this: is it because your partner has stopped making an effort, or because your ego is too big? You need to be a pretty harsh self-critic to figure it out but the truth is some people are addicted to having people fall in love with them, but not stay in love with them. Are you just seeking constant beginnings, unable to notice the ways your partner makes you feel special later in a relationship? Or has your partner truly stopped trying to make you feel special?

Are there extenuating circumstances?

Is somebody in your or your partner’s family very ill? Is one of you under extreme pressure at work? Or either of your struggling financially? This can put stress on any relationship, making it more difficult to have fun together and even to be physically intimate. But here is the truth: stress will happen with anybody. You may go to a bar, meet a guy who you think seems like Prince Charming and far more exciting than your current partner but know this: given time, that man will experience stress, will at times be a shell of himself and will fail to excite you. That is a part of life and a part of long-term relationships.


Will you miss him?

It’s a question we can forget to ask ourselves when we’re busy envying all of our single friends that seem to be having so much fun. But sometimes we don’t realize how much of our sense of security and of self worth comes from the fact that we have a partner. You may think, “I can take on the world without him!” but don’t realize those feelings of confidence come from him. Right now, all you might be thinking about is that you miss that euphoric feeling you had in the beginning. But have you thought about what you will miss if you don’t have him at all? In other words: are you just taking your partner for granted? If the answer is yes, it will be far more painful to discover that out of the relationship, so ask yourself now.

Is it about personal growth?

Sometimes you just feel that you haven’t experienced or accomplished everything you’ve wanted to, and you fear your relationship has gotten in the way. But you tend to set the precedent for your own relationship. So if you haven’t been traveling together enough, going out enough, going after your dreams enough, it might be because you simply believed it was something you couldn’t do with a partner, so you never tried. But, you don’t necessarily have to give up your relationship to experience life. Your partner may surprise you if you simply tell him, “I want to do more of x, y or z.” Also, if you’re going to spend your life with someone, it should be somebody that you can go on adventures with and grow together with, because people never stop growing. So, you may as well start trying with the person you’re with now.


How many people have you dated?

If you haven’t dated many, then your inkling that you need to experience life single is probably correct: you have no idea what is out there. You don’t know if this is as good as it gets, or if it could be much better. And if you don’t go find out, you’ll spend your entire life wondering. But, if you have dated many people, and you’ve learned a lot about what you want and what works for you, you can answer this question pretty accurately: “Is my partner a good fit for me?” Compatibility in the long run is more important than chemistry. Chemistry you can find over two cocktails and a hot guy. But compatibility is what makes you grow a deep and genuine love for someone. Find someone that things are so hot with but over time, if you’re not compatible, you will drive each other nuts. So write up a list. Put down traits that are important to you and put a plus or minus next to each depending on whether or not your partner meets them. If it’s high on the plus side, stick around for a while. This could just be a phase.

Is it just a turning point?

Relationships go through phases. It can’t be that euphoric feeling forever because you wouldn’t be able to function. And while it’s sad to let that hyper exciting phase end, if it’s a good relationship, it simply transitions into a calmer, deeper kind of love. Sometimes people can be so distracted by the excitement having gone out the window, that they don’t stop to appreciate what they have built which could be a relationship built on respect and a thorough understanding of each other. And that is more valuable in life than mere infatuation.

Does he make your life easier, or harder?

Your partner should support your life, add energy to it and be your partner in your goals. He might do that in the form of advising you, helping you look for job opportunities, or simply giving you a back rub at the end of a long day. But the point is he should be making you feel full of life, not draining you of it. So: how does your partner make you feel? Is he another responsibility—like your job, or family commitments—or is he a joy? Is he who you escape to when you’re stressed? Or is he another stress? If he’s the latter answer to all of these questions, then it is time to cut ties.

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