Valentine’s Day may be over, but along with the candy and romance, this holiday can highlight problems for couples too.
This is a difficult question, and is really a personal decision that only you can answer. We all go through relationship ups and downs, and it’s to be expected that sometimes the relationship we envisioned isn’t living up to expectations. This is normal. But how do you know when you are better off leaving, rather than trying to fix something that can’t be repaired?
If you find yourself wondering if you should stay together, or when to break up, these questions can help you gain clarity:
How do you feel after spending time together?
This is an important question, because it cuts to the core of your feelings: are you happier spending time with him/her, or happier when you are apart?
Relationships are not static, and we all go through difficult times with our partners throughout the course of a relationship. But generally speaking – if you don’t feel good when you spend time together, then that’s a red flag that this person is causing stress and unhappiness in your life, and you might be better off apart.
Can you state your needs?
Good communication is essential in any relationship. If you are afraid to tell your girlfriend what you want, or have trouble expressing your needs when you are hurt, this affects your happiness no matter who you are with. The good news is that you can be pragmatic with addressing this problem.
Write down your needs if you don’t feel comfortable discussing them, and don’t apologize for them! Start with small requests and see what happens. For example: “I felt hurt when you ignored my request this morning,” or “It makes me feel disrespected when you leave your dirty dishes on the table.” Assess how you feel when you practice this. Then, start expressing the bigger needs – like what you want from a partner. If he/she isn’t able to address your needs or doesn’t make an effort, it might be time to say goodbye.
Is there reciprocity in your relationship?
Do you feel like yours is a one-sided relationship?
Are you the one who gives compliments or takes your girlfriend out to dinner, but get nothing in return?
If you feel your partner isn’t delivering, it is time to let her know how you feel. Remember, this isn’t about buying each other presents of equal value, or about money at all – it is about valuing the relationship itself by giving to your partner in many different ways.
Are you easily irritated or annoyed by his/her behavior?
If you find yourself getting mad at even the smallest annoyances, as though they are insurmountable relationship hurdles, you might want to question why.
Is there an underlying fundamental disconnect?
Are your needs not getting met?
Do you find that you and your partner have turned into very different people, maybe even with different values?
It’s important to question the underlying motive behind passive-aggressive behavior, because you’re only making the problem worse. Be brave and delve into the deeper questions.
Are you afraid of being alone?
Ultimately, we stay in relationships that aren’t right for us because we fear the alternative – loneliness. But this is a fallacy. Often in relationships we can feel lonely, too. If you find yourself making decisions based in fear, it will lead you to make the wrong decisions. Sometimes, it’s better to embrace the unknown if the only reason you stay in a relationship is because you’re afraid of leaving. Instead, take heart, and be brave – being alone doesn’t mean feeling lonely.
What do you love about him/her?
This is a simple question, but sometimes over the course of a relationship we forget why we fell in love. It’s good to remind yourself, especially if you’re feeling disconnected. Think back your first few dates, about how she used to make you feel and cultivate that feeling. Try to create connection through planning activities together, joining a new class, or cooking a meal together. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves of the good things about our partners, too. Take heart, and most importantly, listen to your instincts. If you leave an unhealthy relationship, you are making room for a new, happier and healthier relationship to come into your life.
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