Should You Stay Or Go?: When to Work it Out, Break Up or Run!

August 4, 2014  |  

Love Lesson: How to know when it is time break up.

My grandparents met when my grandmother was a teen. My grandfather asked her parents if he could court her and they told him to come back in a few years. He did and they were married for a lifetime. My grandmother died while I was in college and almost a year to the day my grandfather died from no medical cause, only a broken heart.

These days, marriages have a 50/50 chance of working out. Some say that this is because we have too many options. Options are certainly a positive thing. The lack of an ability to have true intimacy and long-term commitment is not. Sometimes, however we are just beating a dead horse and it’s time to break up the relationship.

One of the most common letters I receive is from women asking, “Dear Abiola, Should I stay in the relationship or break up?” The decision about when to leave a relationship is not an easy one, especially when there are children involved. When Gwyneth Paltrow announced the end of her marriage as a “conscious uncoupling,” people had a kee-kee about it but many of us are learning that the end of a love affair is not always a bad thing. Most of of don’t enter a long term commitment or certainly a marriage expecting it to end, but it’s healthy to see the end of a relationship as a completion rather than one or both of you being broken.

To be clear, the ending of love is gut-wrenching and devastating. As with anything else though it’s important to remember that pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

So you have come to a crossroad in your relationship where you are trying to figure things out. This is the most frustrating and confusing place to be in. It’s time to make a decision. Either you stay together and evolve the relationship or you decide to move forward separately, grieving the loss of a joint dream. Either way, you will be forever altered and must negotiate together a new normal. Your children will be okay as long as you are okay, so don’t stay for them.

Questions to ask yourself if you’re considering a break up:

1) Am I projecting my personal complexes and issues on to my partner?

Have you ever heard the expression, wherever you go there you are? Each of us has issues and challenges that stem from our childhoods and personal histories. It’s important to know your own stuff so that you’re aware of whether it’s your partner with the issues or your lens of the situation. Knowing how to tell the difference is critical for both of you.

2) Is this a relationship that I never should have been in from the start?

Sometimes we enter into a relationship with blinders on. “Sure he isn’t paying child support, doesn’t have a job, or fears commitment, but maybe now he’ll be different.” We see trouble coming and we don’t cross the street. It happens. The good news is that you can make a decision at any point to move on. Remember, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

If your partner was bad news from the beginning, it may be time to move on.

3) Does my love make me 51 percent happy?

Dr. Pat Allen, renowned relationship therapist, says that if someone meets our needs by just 51 percent we should stay with them, as long as it’s not an unhealthy situation. When I first saw that number, I thought I was reading wrong. However, she explains that for factors to line up for love, the chances are far greater that the next person may be only 40 percent. She says it’s much smarter to take someone who makes you more happy than unhappy and grow than to dump them as long as you are not morally at odds.

If you’re only 49 percent happy, it is time to move on.

4) Are we competing rather than living as complements to each other?

Healthy relationships are made with couples who are whole healthy individuals.You should never be in competition no matter your education, income level, or other differences. At home, you are bringing the luscious, sacred bombshell yin energy and your partner is bringing the yang to the relationship — or vice versa. Then your energy complements each other.You should be rooting for each other to win whether at work or at home.

If you are in competition with your partner or he is intimidated by your success, it may be time to move on.

5) Is intimacy gone?

When we hear intimacy we immediately think of sex, however, sexuality is only one kind of intimacy. A healthy couple shares emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, intellectual intimacy, financial intimacy, and social intimacy. In addition, physical intimacy is more than just sex.

If you are not interested in sharing your day, your dreams, or your self with your partner, it is probably time to go.

6) Do you want to change or fix your partner? Or do you feel like you’re settling?

Ideally, each partner should feel like they’re getting the best deal. You see how hard it is to change yourself; you certainly can’ change anyone else.

If you accepting your partner as is seems detrimental, it may be time to move on.

7) Are you mothering your man?

You don’t get to be your full feminine energy womanly self when you have to play mommy to a grown man. The roles of mother, father, and life partner are different ones. Flex your mothering skills with your children, not your life partner.

If your partner demands a mother 24-7, it may be time to move on.

8) Are you in love with a narcissist, abuser, overly insecure man, or someone with unaddressed mental health challenges? Or are you the one with these issues?

Unhealthy partners can’t produce a healthy relationship no matter how much they yearn to. Get appropriate help ASAP to address your situation.

9) Do you have conflicting, non-negotiable personal goals?

So, your partner wants to retire next year at 40 and move to Alaska and this sounds ridiculous to you? Houston, you have a problem. Maybe your partner wants to quit his job and write full time and you find creatives flaky and want to have 5 more kids. Again, this won’t work. It doesn’t matter what your vision for your life is, only that your goals are complementary or more importantly, negotiable. Your goals will rarely be exactly aligned but the ability to compromise is what matters most.

If you are unable to compromise and align your personal objectives, it may be time to break up.

10) Does this person you once loved now disgust you?

Once contempt sets it, it is definitely time to move on. Trust your intuition and go.

Invest in a good couples counselor if you plan to stay together, or a therapist or coach for yourself if you are moving on.

I see you happy, healthy, and getting the love you deserve!

Catch up on Abiola’s Love Class

Passionate Living Coach Abiola Abrams is the author of “The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love,” nominated for an African American Literary Award in self-help. She gives extraordinary women inspiring advice on healthy relationships, self-esteem and getting the love we deserve. You’ve seen her love interventions in magazines from Essence to Ebony and on shows from MTV’s “Made” to the CW Network’s “Bill Cunningham Show.” Abiola is also the creator of the African Goddess Affirmation Cards. Tweet @abiolaTV.

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