How To Know When It’s Time To Let Him Go and Move on- 12+ Love Experts Share Their Best Tips, Strategies and Insights
Wondering when to give up on a guy you like or how to know it's time to give up on him? In this column, the top relationship experts and love coaches reveal powerful, proven insights on the things to consider and questions to ask yourself before making the decision...
1. Does this man meet my Top Three Critical Criteria?
These are the three elements that you'd rather be single forever than live without. If he DOES have your Top Three, then... think again about leaving him.
2. How do I FEEL when I'm with him?
If you can be yourself with him, if he values, respects and appreciates who you are, if he treats you well, then ... think again about leaving him.
3. Are you both aligned on the type of relationship you want for the future?
If so... think again. The elements that are "not there" for you, the things that are making you think that he's not The One for you -- how far down on your Ideal Man list are these lacking elements?
To dismiss a man for not having item number 7 or 18 on your list ... likely is a big mistake.
Remember, the man you have now is in direct competition with the fictitious, imaginary man who's lodged in your mind's eye. THAT guy is not real. The one who you DO have? He is real.
If he's a GOOD man, who meets your Top Three Critical Criteria, and he's into you, cares for you and wants to have a future with you, be very careful not to overlook his lovely qualities, assuming that the grass is greener elsewhere. It usually isn't.
Who's in charge of whether you're happy or not? Bring your own happiness to the party and communicate / make deals about any of the silly, little superficial things that might be bugging you.
He's got a list of things that bug him too, I'd bet. Have an open-hearted conversation about what's "missing" and see if you can build a stronger relationship together.
Julie Ferman, Matchmaker and Dating Coach – www.julieferman.com
“You don’t write, you don’t call”…. yes this is funny joke about mother’s but in fact it can apply to boyfriends too….
When to let an ambivalent boyfriend go is a tough call. The signs may be clear but you may still hold out hope it may work out. So when is the right time to let go…
1. If your fellow is in and out it is damaging to the trust in the relationship.
Research shows that in baby monkeys when their mothers are erratic it is the most damaging to their sense of emotional security. We all have to be able to tolerate some ambivalence in our selves and others but if your boyfriend’s ambivalence is chronic it is bad for your mental health.
Often women and men will seek out partners who are in and out when their own mother suffered from depression or were intermittently distracted, disinterested or resentful of mothering, basically if they are used to erratic loving behavior. So if the in and out goes on for more than a month or two consider letting him go….
2. Communication is key
If you have on many occasions discussed his behavior with him which you may feel is disinterested, non-committal, disconnected or erratic and he seems to connect in the moment but continues to be erratic consider letting him go…
3. If you have set boundaries with him such as requiring him to seek help from a therapist for his difficulties being close and he doesn’t follow through time and again even after you have gotten him a name and number.
If you have been direct with your feelings and have given him an ultimatum about his behavior such as you cant continue to date him if he can’t be reliable or consistent with his attention and he doesn’t follow through consider letting him go….If you set a boundary or ultimatum and you don’t follow through he will not take you seriously…if you threaten to leave you have to take it seriously or he won’t take you seriously.
There is no easy way or perfect time to leave a relationship but these are some things to think about and guidelines for when to let him go….
Erica Komisar, LCSW - www.komisar.com
If you are reading this, you may be struggling with acceptance that your relationship is over or needs to be.
You love him; perhaps he even loves you, but it’s not that simple. We are hard-wired for love and connection and as women will sometimes sacrifice anything to feel it and have it, even our self-respect. We often accept less than we truly desire and deserve instead of a fulfilling relationship with elements of trust, connection, dependability, consistency, positivity, authenticity, and transparency.
The following, are signs that it is time to let him go and move on, saving yourself from further pain:
1. Inconsistent behavior- You feel a push/pull or a “come here, go away” from him. One minute he seems as if he is all in and the next, he seems to withdraw from you.
2. There is no balance in the relationship- You are putting in all the effort to keep the relationship afloat. He says he is busy or doesn’t have time. You begin to rationalize his claims. Remember, if someone is invested in you and the relationship, he will make the time. We all make time for what is important to us. It is painful to realize that it is not you.
3. There is no transparency- His words and actions don’t match. His speech is often contradictory. You find yourself wondering what he is thinking or how he feels due to these contradictions. You begin to make excuses for him. Perhaps he is just scared or is afraid to commit, he was hurt in his past relationship, he has mother issues, and the like. This may be true, but remember he can only meet you as far as he has met himself. If he is not on a path of self-growth to heal, this behavior is unlikely to change.
4. You change yourself- You find yourself changing your own behavior to make him stay or to keep the relationship. Little by little you are losing pieces of your authentic self.
5. Your inner peace is disturbed- You have anxiety over whether you will be contacted, whether your calls or texts will be responded to or acknowledged. You wonder if you said the wrong thing that caused his withdrawal. You begin to question your own sanity and doubt your intuition. You begin to lose sleep.
6. He is married and it’s not to you- You didn’t plan on this happening. In fact, you told yourself you never would, but it happened and you fell in love. He loves you too, but it’s not that simple. There are many reasons a man stays in a marriage that doesn’t work for him; children, finances, guilt, obligations. Unless the marriage is over, there is no room for you.
7. He has broken your trust. There are many ways trust can be broken, from promises unfulfilled to lies. You find yourself doubting and checking his whereabouts.
8. Emotionally unavailable- He is unable to connect with you on an intimate level and avoids conversations of depth.
9. Wishing and hoping and dreaming- You find yourself wishing and hoping things could be different. “What if, if only, could have, should have, would have.” You wonder if it was something you said or did , if you could take it back and do it again, perhaps the outcome would be different.
10. He has already let go of you- It is clear that his avoidance and lack of responsiveness is an indicator that he has moved on, but just hasn’t said the words to end it.
11. You are in an abusive relationship- All bets are off here. It is time to go. It is not okay to be abused in any fashion, verbal, emotional or physical. Save yourself and leave immediately.
12. Your heart aches more than you are happy.
Self -exploration with a qualified therapist would be beneficial to heal the root cause of why you may have a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior or stay in a relationship where you are not cherished.
Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be. Acceptance is not easy especially in matters of the heart, but with good self -care, support and professional guidance you can move through the pain and grief and begin again, this time with better boundaries and realistic expectations.
It is important to get clear on what experience you really want to have in your life and relationships.
In this way you can be clear on what you are willing to accept from someone else. If his behavior or the experience is incongruent with your vision, then it’s time to make a change. When someone is consistently showing you that they are incapable of a loving, connected and transparent relationship, you must believe them.
No amount of wishing, hoping or excuse making will change this. It is in this loving behavior with self, that you will attract a healthier experience in your life. When you let go, you are creating space for that healthy relationship with an available partner to enter.
Lisa Angelini, MAPC, LPC - www.lisaangelini.com
Staying in an unsatisfying relationship is hard.
And so can letting go and moving on. What both of these scenarios reveal is how attached you are in your relationship.
Why is it so hard to break away when we need to break away? One reason is our attachment. Attachments provide warmth and comfort and security. To separate from a significant attachment creates anxiety and insecurity. And it is through our attachments that suffering forms.
So how do we know whether to stay or to let go?
Some of the major problems that occur in relationships are:
- Do you have a financial plan?
- Do you have conflicts around money?
- Is this something that is manageable?
- Can you over look it?
- Do you have a way(s) to resolve conflict Are you able to discuss differences?
- Are you able to accept differences?
- Are you able to talk about the problem
- Do you know how to listen?
- Is there understanding of the other’s point of view
- Do you have organization around household chores and organization? Do you eat meals together?
- Are there leisure and recreational activities that you participate in?
- Do you usually feel loved?
- Do you trust your partner?
- Is there a satisfactory sexual connection?
- Do you love yourself and love your partner?
- Do you give and feel appreciation?
- Can you forgive?
Key things to remember when evaluation your relationship:
- Is this a period or season of something the partner is going though that could be temporary?
- Has this period lasted longer than 6 months where things may not change?
- Are there areas where you can turn your head and accept what cannot be changed?
- Does your partner reflect the image you like in yourself?
Below, circle the number that best represents how you feel about your relationship.
The lower numbers are not satisfying or have low potential. The middle numbers represent ok and the higher numbers are most satisfying or have high potential.
The way it is:
1 (Not Satisfying) -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 (Satisfying)
The way you would like it to be:
1 (Not Satisfying) -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 (Satisfying)
The potential that things can change:
1 (Low potential) -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 (High potential)
As you look at the numbers you circled, reflect on the meaning it has for you.
If you have children, note what you are nonverbally teaching your child about how to have a relationship. What is the nonverbal message(s) does your relationship say about you? Now, you have your evaluation. Is it time for professional help, are you able to live with your situation, or are is it time to say goodbye.
I’m reminded of Veronica Shoffstall’s poem:
After a While
After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
Carole Stokes-Brewer, PhD - www.changingwayz.com
Every relationship is different and has its own characteristics.
Part of letting him (or her) go, may be difficult for many. But there comes a time when you need to realize that keeping him around is not a great idea. The problem though is how will you know when that time has come?
Well first, ask yourself these few questions:
- Do you feel happy?
- Do you feel that he is pushing you to reach your goals?
- Do you feel like your relationship is even when it comes to tasks?
- Does he know your expectations?
- Do you trust him?
- Can you depend on him?
- Does he listen to you?
- Does he respect you?
If you answered no to most of these questions, it may not necessarily mean that your relationship is 100% doomed, these are things that can definitely be fixed.
The bigger question is, are you both willing to put the work and effort into the relationship to make it work?
If you answered no to this question, it may be best to let the relationship go and move on. It can become detrimental to both partners in a relationship when it has become toxic, yet no one is doing anything to change and/or no one knows how to change. It also becomes harder when you may be the only one trying to fix the relationship, yet you aren’t getting anywhere because your partner is not doing their part.
When it comes to moving on from a relationship, it is important to identify a support network that will be there for you during this transition.
It is normal for you to possibly miss someone after a relationship ends and have multiple “what if” questions. This is where your support network comes in handy!
Other things you can do can be to get engaged with a new hobby, join a sporting team in the community, read a new book, and go out with some friends. It’s easier to move on from a relationship when you keep yourself busy.
Priscilla Rodriguez, MS, LMFT-A - www.priscilla-l-rodriguez.com
Love can be so interesting. We have so many ideas on how it should work; but despite our best efforts and fairy tale ideas, relationships can be hard work and sometimes not end up how we hoped.
There can come a time in some relationships when it's actually time to let go. As hard as it might be to hear, you need to know when it's time to let go and do what's best for you.
Here are a few signs.
1. When you no longer feel important to him.
If you are not his priority, it might be time to move on. It's easy to recognize, because you'll be last on his list. If friends, associates, and even hobbies come before you, something is wrong.
2. If he has no concern about you or what you're concerned about, that may be another sign.
A man will have an interest in his woman. He'll at least pretend to be interested in your interest, from nodding to asking questions about it to even following up on it, there will be some acknowledgement of what's happening in your life. When that is missing, you must be honest about where you stand with that man.
3. If intimacy is missing, it's time to reconsider your relationship.
Most men are physical, so if he's not being physical with you, he's being physical elsewhere. And in order to protect your body and heart, you may have to move on.
4. When you're just not that into him anymore.
All of what I mentioned before can also be from your point of view. So, if you are not concerned about him, don't want him to touch you, or just don't feel like making him a priority, that is a definite sign you're pretty much done.
5. Last thing to remember, love will never hurt.
This includes physically and emotionally. Please move on and end any relationship that doesn't honor you. It's that simple. Love should feel good. No, not everyday is it sunshine and roses, but definitely the majority of the relationship should bring you joy! When it doesn't it's time to move on.
Tiya Cunningham-Sumter Certified Relationship Coach & Blogger - www.thelifeandlovecoach.com
Moving on from a relationship or partnership is undoubtably one of the most difficult decisions to face.
Any relationship has challenges, and some even extreme challenges, but many couples overcome these differences and come out stronger. Isn't the point of being in partnership together to face them and grow as individuals and as a couple?
Yes, that can be true. So how do you know when it's time to move on from a relationship or partnership then?
When you ultimately know that your long terms goals and values are already in different directions.
This can be the case with obvious ongoing situations like one partner not wanting to settle down to have a family but the other one wants to, both partners wanting to live in different locations or different lifestyles from the other, or both partners having drastically different values that effect their loved ones – for example, when one partner isn't monogamous and the other is.
It might also be time to move on when you're still fairly new and notice that you have different ideas about your future, about fundamental life values, how to raise children, or even not on the same page with how much you're both committed to the relationship.
Either way, it's when you know that his goals and values are not aligned with yours.
Attracting and dating to find a partner from a deliberate standpoint where you are already in harmony with your values and goals, rather than leaving it to chance, similar interests, and chemistry will help you begin a very solid relationship that will be primed for long term success.
Dina Robison, Love Coach - www.dinarobison.com
Step 1. Stop doing what doesn’t work with men, romance and relationships (any kind of “man managing”) – which you’ve already started doing!! Yayyy!!!
Step 2. Notice if his energy starts moving towards you again.
Step 3. Look at the big picture.
This is just ONE man out of millions that can give you the relationship you want. (I know we typically want just one particular man because he makes us feel so special – but the truth is – there are many men who can make us feel loved, adored, cherished and special – for a lifetime.)
If you don’t believe this – start playing around with the “idea” of believing there are many high quality men who would be a perfect match for you. We’re going with the vibe of abundance – instead of coming from lack, scarcity, or fear which is so easy to do.
Step 4. If you ever start to feel a man becoming distant and withdrawing – instead of moving towards him and wondering how you can fix it, lean back and question if he's actually the right man for you.
Typically when a man withdraws and becomes distant – we become more attracted and even obsessed thinking about him and how we can turn things around.
Turn Your Thinking Around First
We have to shift before our relationship can.
Ask yourself – “Is this man capable of giving me the love and relationship I want??” Instead of trying to become the “perfect girlfriend” to get his love and commitment or walking on egg shells.
This will help you shift your vibe. You’ll come from a more empowered and magnetic place instead of an anxious, needy or desperate place. We’ve all been there!
Start Here To See If the Man You Love Is Capable Of Giving You the Love You Deserve
1. Give your relationship 3 months to turn around.
2. Don’t give in to any urgency – this is the hardest part. (For example: Talking about your relationship or how he feels – unless he brings it up.) When a man’s becoming distant – the best thing to do is create MORE space – but we instinctively want to create MORE closeness.
3. At this point there’s no need to say anything about what you’re doing differently – you do it and follow your timeline.
4. Don’t wait around for him to make plans, call or fill up your life. Start creating a life you love that has nothing to do with a man. If you could create your dream life – what would it look like? Start here.
Learn how to create softness and be The Ultimate Invitation when he comes towards you.
1. Soften your jaw
2. Drop your shoulders
3. Take a deep breath and let your belly soften
4. How do you feel?
5. Take another breath and imagine breathing in love and breathing out love.
Do this when you’re with him.
This Soften Your Body tool allows you to show more of your authentic self. Instead of shutting down and being up in your head wondering about what he’s thinking or feeling.
If after 3 months you’re still questioning his intentions about you, there’s your answer.
At that point you can let him know – “I love you and I love spending time with you and I’m really looking for someone who’s on the same page as I am about having a future together…. and it doesn’t feel like we are… What are your thoughts?
Let him answer – see what he says. Be willing to walk away.
Leigha Lake, Love Coach - www.leighalake.com
Well, damn! This is not the right guy for you....and you know it. Deep down inside, you know it.
You probably started to recognize the signs that it was time to let him go and move on a little while ago.
Those little signs that speak directly to your heart. Things like:
1. When you think about him, your heart space feels a bit empty, when before it felt expansive and full of energy.
2. You start to notice that it is taking energy to be with him.
3. In the middle of a conversation you realize you have been off on trip to Tahiti and not engaged with him at all.
4. When you see his number on your phone, there is a little drop in your shoulders and neck and the feeling of "oh no, not you again" comes over you.
5. There is literally a little "pinging" in your heart space that doesn't feel good, it is contractive, every time you think of him.
Your inner compass is always speaking to you and letting you know when you are right on course or need to change speeds or direction.
It is a good thing, to let someone go that is not a vibrational match for you. When you let him go to find a much better match for him and for you to find the right match for you, it is a win/win.
Share in the love by allowing him to be free, to find the right person that is in alignment with his dreams and desires and allow the right man to be attracted and drawn to you by freeing up your energy and increasing your vibration to what your dreams and desires are in a relationship.
Nada Hogan L.Ac, Dipl.Om, M.Om - www.nadahogan.com
If I could rewrite history it would be to take all those lovely fairytales and rescript them to support powerful, healthy relationships where each person acts as a partner. Sadly, I don’t yet have that power.
Our relationships are the outpicturing of what we think and feel about ourselves, and so often we believe that we aren’t worthy of having a loving, supportive, caring relationship. We tend to date what we perceive that person could be capable of (what we believe their potential to be), and not what they are really showing us. Trust me - this is a recipe for disaster.
How do you know when it’s time to let him go? For me, it’s the following:
1. Everything is a fight – You don’t have to see eye-to-eye on everything in your life. However, having the same fundamental values creates a strong foundation of respect. If you seem to fight over everything from where he puts his socks to him not calling you, it might be time to let him go.
2. Sticks and stones – If he (or you) spend most of the time “picking on” each other – this is a sign that the relationship needs readjusting. I once had a boyfriend who spent much of our time together telling me all the things that were wrong with me (I, of course, let him).
3. You keep saying, “If he would just change…” – Here are the hard facts: NO ONE changes unless they want to, and NO ONE changes because you want them to. If you are looking at everything he does and says and telling yourself “this relationship would work out if he would just . . ., it might be time to let him go.
I believe deeply that we are in relationships to transform those parts of ourselves that don’t believe we are worthy of love, AND it takes being aware and conscious to do this. Yes, love can transform the world – when you have awareness and choose to become the consciousness required to make that happen.
Jennifer Urezzio, Master Intuitive - www.soullanguage.us
No one can make the decision for you about when it is time to end a relationship.
However, when if you are wondering or struggling within yourself about whether to stay or go, here are some things to ask yourself.
The bad times. Every relationship has good and bad times. But have you considered whether the bad times have ultimately enhanced or diminished the relationship. Bad times enhance the relationship when you both learn from the experience. They can create a deeper bond and understanding, and lead to more consideration of each other as you move forward. Bad times are diminishing when the same problems keep occurring, when they are demeaning or humiliating, and when they keep happening due to one person’s emotional difficulties.
The good times. How long has it been since you had a sense of goodness in the relationship? Do you feel good most of the time, or just blah, like treading water? Do the good times only happen when you’re on vacation, or doing some special activity? Or do you enjoy each other day to day? Are the good times so intense that you’re willing to put up with a lot of blah or bad times in between? Will that be good enough when you’re 60?
Can you be yourself? A healthy relationship that can last the long term is one in which you can be yourself without fear of criticism, censure, or rejection. Do you feel at ease being you in this relationship? Do you look forward to spending time together, or does it mostly feel like an obligation? Are you staying because you’d feel guilty if you left?
Are you and your partner willing to make changes to accommodate the other? Does it feel like only you are making changes for him? Have you told him what changes would make things better for you or are you expecting him to read your mind? If you have asked for changes, how willing has he been to make adjustments for you? If he’s refused or “forgotten” or responded for a few days and then gone back to his old ways, you need to really consider if he’s actually willing to change or not.
Have you become a happier, healthier, better version of yourself in this relationship? A good relationship will enhance your self-esteem, your happiness, and your confidence in yourself. Are you becoming a better you? Or are you more critical, depressed, or unsure about yourself? Have you explored why you’re feeling less happy? Is it something you’re going through that is bringing you down, or is it the relationship?
If he would only change. If you are staying based on the hope/fantasy that he is going to change, ask yourself why you think you have a right to expect that he should be someone other than who he is?
We’re not talking about small, polite changes, but things like expecting him to have a different temperament, be more responsible with money, be less controlling, be less opinionated, be more interesting, quit cheating, etc. If you don’t like who he is, then why are you with him?
Are you staying because you don’t want to be alone? Staying in a relationship because you’re afraid of being alone leads to resentment, dependence, and feelings of being a victim.
If you have made this guy your whole world, but it’s feeling bad enough you’re considering leaving, then staying because you’d be lonely is going to lead to a breakup in the long run anyway. If you’re not staying because this is a positive relationship, then why are you staying?
Do you feel you have to stay because….I have nowhere else to go…I don’t want to be a failure…I can’t support myself…I can’t let my children come from a broken home…I don’t want to be the bad guy…etc. These are all indications that you would prefer to leave, but don’t see a way out. Having a support system and an exit plan will get you where you want to be.
What are your friends and family telling you? Other people aren’t the best judges of whether you should stay or go, but if they are all saying the same things, it’s worth giving their opinions some consideration. The people who love you, want the best for you. They don’t want to see you suffer.
If you are considering leaving the relationship, that is a big sign that things aren’t going well.
Spend some serious time thinking about what isn’t working for you. Have you tried to fix it? What was the result? If the primary things that you want to be different depend on him changing, and there has been little or no progress on that happening, then it’s probably time to leave.
If you’ve seen significant progress and those changes have endured over 6 months or more, then maybe you need to look at why you are thinking about leaving. You have the right to leave just because you’re not happy.
The deeper question is…what will feel the best in the long run?
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
When to give up? This is a hard question to answer because truthfully the decision is subjective.
Women really differ in their tolerance for dissatisfaction in a relationship. And of course there is always some level of dissatisfaction in every relationship, so how much is too much?
I think there are some areas that are non-negotiable.
The first sign of emotional or physical abuse is a deal-breaker. Trust me when I say that abuse almost never gets better, and almost always gets worse. Infidelity early on is definitely a red flag (if you have an exclusive relationship). Many couples get through this but it’s a painful journey and the relationship will be changed. If you are in a long-term relationship, it could be worth the effort, but in a relatively young relationship why take that on?
Whether or not to have children really can’t be negotiated but how many children to have can. Substance abuse probably needs to go on the list. Again, subjective as to what constitutes use and what constitutes abuse; however it’s always a red flag and must be addressed.
Here is a list of issues that may not be deal-breakers:
- Common interests
- Common goals (separate from common values)
These are all important issues, but they might be negotiable with a partner who is willing to listen and is flexible (that partner needs to include you!).
In fact the ability to listen and not get defensive or critical is a huge plus for any relationship. That ability is critical to conflict resolution and to reaching the compromises that every relationship must make.
At the end of the day, you need to feel happy, not all of the time but most of the time.
You need to feel valued and respected. You need to have fun together. A relationship should enhance your life. Of course relationships complicate your life, but it has to be worth it. If you are anxious about a man, you need to ask yourself why. Sometimes it’s just the anxiety associated with commitment. But if you find yourself minimizing your concerns, they won’t get addressed. You need to be able to talk openly with your partner without fear of reprisals. Then if a solution or compromise can be reached, you know you’re with an adult, someone you can trust. That’s a relationship worth fighting for.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Something to know about couples whether married or not, they either grow together or grow apart for various reasons. Every relationship given the appropriate direction has the right to succeed. Yet over 50% of marriages end in divorce. There are many reasons for this and we will explore them.
There are times and circumstances why many relationships should end no matter how hard they feel they have tried.
When a couple marries, the last thing they think about is the marriage ending, so why do so many relationships fail to succeed?
1. Unresolved issues from one’s Family of Origin. We unconsciously seek out a partner to resolve the issues from a parent or parents we did not resolve before the marriage.
With recognition, this can be a powerful match, however, the couple may benefit with some professional counseling in that a third party can assist the couple with possible resolution of issues.
2. Inability to live with different needs.
When couples first get together, they are in la la land and don’t realize they each have their own separate needs. They should be communicating about so many things that could help them decide on compatibility, i.e., finances, geographical location, children, careers and so much more. If couples do not communicate effectively and are clear with each other, there will be conflict down the road.
3. Unpredictable external stressors.
Life’s challenges including sudden illnesses, aging parents, prior relationships, too much heartache where there is a breach of trust and no coping techniques established. This is a recipe for disaster.
When one partner is secretive and seeing someone on the side. There is deception and betrayal. Unless special arrangements were made with both partners in agreement, this can be a relationship destroyer.
5. Self-serving behaviors that prioritize over the relationship. Whether it be work-related, emotional or physical unavailability, addiction or anything that removes the priority of the relationship. When the relationship is on the back burner, that is a real red flag to success.
6. Lack of authenticity. Early on in a relationship, it seems so genuine and authentic. Over time, there can be a lack of caring and genuineness in the coupleship. Boredom can set in, complacency, and lack of motivation to keep the flames going. Often power struggles and inability to compromise can become apparent.
7. Inability to resolve misunderstandings. When couples lose interest in each other, it is more challenging to resolve mis-interpretations and assumptions. When this increases, layers and layers of debris accumulate which makes it more difficult to unravel.
While there are even more complex issues that can arise, the above are more common things we tend to see that can lead to the demise of the relationship.
Some couples are simply not motivated to make the relationship work any longer and prefer to let go and move on. Not that it isn’t painful, however, if a couple can move on with feeling as though there is mutual respect and lessons learned, perhaps both can benefit in their future lives and be able to move on in a healthy way. Lessons learned and awareness can often lead to a better future than staying in an unhealthy situation that only lead to heartbreak and pain.
Moving on is possible and can often lead to a much brighter future filled with joy and love.
Connie Clancy Fisher, ED.D. – www.drconnieclancyfisher.com
There’s no set time to know when it’s time to leave your partner and move on. This decision can be made even more difficult when the relationship has gone on for many years or decades, when there are children involved, or when there are other complicating factors.
Still, here are tips to follow to make the process a bit easier:
#1. Don’t act on impulse.
If you sense that you’re unhappy, think about why—what is it that irks or disappoints you about your partner? Make sure that you’re not simply feeling hurt and want to hurt him back by breaking off the relationship. Equally, make sure that you’re not over-reacting just to put yourself in the power position and prove that you can live without him.
It’s never a good idea to break up out of revenge, when, if you allow yourself to think more rationally, you might have a different response. Even if he’s made you very unhappy, do your best to behave maturely.
#2. Don’t ignore your feelings of unhappiness with him.
At the other end of the spectrum, don’t pretend that you’re happy with your partner if you’re not. Be honest with yourself. Maybe you’ve been miserable for a long time and are just holding on in order to avoid being alone. Maybe you have excellent reasons for wanting to leave your partner though he tells you that you shouldn’t feel the way you do. That kind of response in and of itself is enough to make you question wanting to stay.
Many women are unhappy and stay in abusive relationships because they believe they’re at fault or can’t imagine living without a partner. Talk with friends about these issues and seek out a therapist if necessary.
#3. Change happens in stages.
Recognize which stage of change you’re in about leaving your partner. Is this is a new idea, have you explored and identified your mixed feelings about him, or have your feelings changed suddenly. Usually we get an idea, mull it around for a while, and add evidence to stay or go. From the idea of leaving a partner to actually doing so may take weeks or months.
Under normal circumstances, it shouldn’t be done in days (unless there is abuse) and you certainly don’t want to wait years. Once you have the idea to leave, you have three paths ahead of you: things might get better between you two, things might get worse, or they will stay the same. Give yourself enough time to see if one of the first two possibilities will occur and then your decision will be made for you.
#4. Talk with your partner to see if his behavior will improve.
If you’ve never explained what you don’t care for about him, you might be leaving your partner prematurely. Be clear and give concrete, specific examples. Don’t only tell him what he does wrong, but share how he might change to better meet your needs.
Give your partner enough time to change if you have specific shifts that he can make, such as spending more quality time with you, not rolling his eyes when you speak, telling you more often that he loves you, doing more chores around the house, etc. Big changes will likely take longer and may even need the help of a therapist, so make sure to factor that in.
#5. Know that you might second guess your decision to leave.
Don’t be surprised if you leave your partner and start to doubt that you made the best decision for yourself. This is a natural response to making a major change in your life.
To avoid as much second guessing as possible, make sure you’ve thought long and hard about leaving him and let your decision evolve over time. Also, recognize that you will likely be lonely at times when he’s not around, but do not mistake loneliness for missing your partner. They are two distinct feelings. Loneliness is wanting someone around; missing him is wanting him around.
#6. Get support.
Make sure to get support from family and friends before, during and after leaving your partner. This doesn’t mean that you are asking them to decide for you whether you should stay or go, or even following their advice. It simply feels supportive to know that people understand and will be there for you if you need them.
It’s always a plus in difficult transitions to know that we have people in our corner. Having intimates around also helps to quell loneliness and keep your boundaries firm if your partner puts pressure on you to reconsider your decision.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
How many times have you known in your heart that something isn’t working, yet you let your head talk you out of it?
You decided to give him one more chance only to be disappointed... again. Later you may look back and admit to yourself that you knew something was off, but you ignored your intuition.
This is an act of self-betrayal and it can keep you in a relationship longer than healthy or necessary. We’ve all been there...and it hurts.
How do you know when to let go and move on? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. Do his actions match his words?
Many men are good at making verbal promises and saying seductive words to lead you to believe there is a loving future ahead, yet their actions are inconsistent with creating this future.
A good man will honor his words and follow through on his promises. A man who is more involved with fantasy than reality, will lead you on and confuse you. If you see this pattern, don’t let his words fool you. Always make sure his actions are consistent with his words. If they are not, get out and don’t waste your time.
2. Do you feel anxious and insecure in the relationship?
When you find yourself consistently anxious, insecure, hyper-vigilant and mistrusting in a relationship, something is wrong. If you are always nervous and wondering if he will call, text, show up or be there for you in some way, he is not treating you well.
Stop making excuses for him. “He’s so busy. His work schedule is so demanding. He’s absent- minded. He’s trying, but he forgets.” Sound familiar? You deserve better. There’s no reason for this kind of anxiety in a healthy relationship.
3. Do you feel respected?
There are many ways to show respect and disrespect. You need to have pretty healthy self- esteem to sometimes know the difference. Does he go out of his way to show you that you are important in his life? Does he treat you well in front of his friends and your friends? Does he adjust his behavior when he learns what makes you happy and what does not? Does he make excuses for his behavior when you tell him something he did hurt you?
It takes some radical self-honesty to admit that you feel mistreated by someone you may have fallen for. Just be aware that if you feel disrespected in any way now, it will most likely get worse as time goes on.
4. Does he show genuine interest in getting to know you?
You want to look for a man who is genuinely interested in getting to know who you are on a deep level. There are many self-absorbed men out there who love attention from a loving, kind woman, but they do not reciprocate.
Do you feel you are asking all the questions to get to know him and he does not return the interest? Is it all about him and his schedule, his interests, his needs? Do you feel unseen and
somewhat lonely when you are with him? If so, what are you getting out of this? It is not your job to take care of him. Healthy relationships are reciprocal in nature.
It can be very hard to let go of a man who may have many positive qualities, but who is ultimately letting you down. There is always the wish that he will change. Unfortunately, in most cases this wish will not come to fruition.
Remember the words of Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Cut your loses and move on...
There are good men out there. If you can’t find them, you may want to hire a therapist or coach to help you figure out why. We all have blindspots stemming from our unhealed pasts. Sometimes we need help to get free from these patterns in our life.
Know that you deserve healthy, reciprocal love and it is available.
Nancy Harris, LCSW, LICSW - www.nancyharriscoaching.com
How do you know the guy you're seeing is no longer worth your effort or time?
The answer is simple. If he no longer satisfies what you want in a partner and in a relationship, it is time to move on.
You'll know when this happens because your body, mind and spirit will tell you. You'll notice that it no longer feels good or is enjoyable to spend time with him. You’ll sense that there aren’t any butterflies when he calls or takes you out. You’ll feel yourself drifting towards other men or different outlets.
In other words, you have lost interest and are ready to give up because the relationship is not offering you the things you want in a healthy, satisfying relationship.
Basically, here's what would be ideal:
- You are able to be your authentic, natural self around each other and are comfortable being open and honest
- You treat each other equally, with one person not being more dominant or demanding
- You share similar values, philosophies and goals and allow each other to pursue your own interests and activities
- You respect each other without compromising who you are
- You are attracted to each other and are compatible in bed
- You have fun laughing, being flirty and silly
- You handle disagreements respectfully and fairly and your days are not filled with drama or stress
If you are not experiencing this, the relationship is not healthy or supportive.
Remember that you may be holding on to the relationship because you don't want to be alone, or to start all over again with someone new.
But those are not valid reasons for staying in a relationship that is unfulfilling. You've put the effort in and it has not changed how you feel or how the relationship is developing. You really want it to work, but you see that it's never going to be the "real deal." That's when you know it's time to give up on him and find that perfect guy who rocks your socks off!
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Relationships involve great investments in time, energy and emotion.
Once you cross that line and allow someone into your heart it is difficult to let them go. More often than not, you may find yourself making excuses or shifting expectations to accommodate a failing relationship. When you find that you are hoping for the best, yet continue to be disappointed with the state of the relationship how do you decide when or if it is time to move on?
Here are some signs your relationship is not working:
1. You find yourself clinging to positive memories from the beginning of the relationship. This brings the ‘present’ into question. If you were content in the relationship ‘as is’, then you would be able to be more ‘present’ in it and not dwell so much in the past.
2. You find most conversations about your partner start with ‘if only ….’ This shows a focus on the ‘potential’ of the relationship and ‘potential’ of your partner to step up verses the reality of allowing the relationship to be simply what it is and your partner to be who they choose to be.
3. You are always shifting your schedule, emotions, basically ‘your world’ to fit into theirs. It is never good to put yourself on the backburner as overtime this builds resentment. It is difficult to get your needs met when the focus is on pleasing and accommodating your partner at all cost.
4. You are expending all of your energy into making the relationship work. The relationship is uneven and out of balance which increases negative energy and stress in the relationship.
5. You feel alone and disconnected. Relationships are about connecting. When you feel alone and disconnected it is often because either you or your partner has disengaged from the relationship.
Stacey Shumway Johnson, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS, BCC - www.2xlcoach.com
What is your stress threshold?
There are times when you have to call it a day and decide to cut your losses. The problem is trying to figure out when to do it. Some people with a traumatic or chaotic childhood may be more prone to tolerating a higher level of stress in a relationship. This is a learned behavior and it comes from being exposed to high conflict situations as a child or adolescent. When we become accustomed to higher stress levels in a relationship, it raises our threshold of tolerance for it.
Is it a toxic relationship or are you just incompatible?
It is important to determine if the relationship you are in is toxic or if it is an issue of incompatibility when things start to turn sour. Some problems can be resolved with counseling and talking things out. Some problems go much deeper and if he is not willing to put in the work on his end to help improve the relationship, it might be time to move on.
In a toxic relationship, you might find yourself fighting for the relationship and putting more effort into it that he is. He might refuse to take responsibility for his behavior and expect you to accommodate him. He will expect you to realize that it is you that needs to put forth the effort to make the relationship work and not him.
Absolutely never tolerate physical or emotional abuse. If he is not following through on the things that he said he would work on, that is a sign of a deeper issue. If he works on it only until he pacifies you and then goes back to his old habits, then his effort is not genuine. Some men will do things to placate you long enough to reel you in.
Is he who he says he is?
Once you are in love and hooked, his behavior will change and he will become less interested in placating you and will start showing you his “true” colors. If you experience this, it is time to leave because it will only get worse. Once he thinks he’s got you reeled in, he will start showing you who he really is. He may rush to move in together or want you to have a baby to get you in a position of dependency making it harder for you to leave.
The number one thing I tell my clients when they are dating someone new or starting a new relationship is to observe their partner. Is what he says congruent with what he does? Does he say something and then do the opposite? Is he honest? Can you trust him? Is he telling you what you want to hear so that you will buy into him? When you first start dating, you want to see the best in him and might overlook some red flags. Maybe you see him as a catch, but there are little things that just don’t seem right. This can be confusing and create self-doubt.
This confusion is called cognitive dissonance and stems from wanting to believe what he is saying despite doubting what he is doing. What he does makes you uncomfortable and so you find yourself making excuses for his behavior to minimize your discomfort. In other words you internalize the discomfort and prefer to think that you perceive the situation inaccurately.
If you confront him about his behavior, he will more than likely find a way to justify his actions. You might give him the benefit of the doubt because it is easier than escalating the issue and creating conflict. If what he says and does are incongruent, this is a huge red flag and you need to pay attention. If you are experiencing this early on, cut your losses and move on.
You are just not compatible
If the issue is one of incompatibility, sometimes the relationship can be salvaged and sometimes it cannot. Some issues of incompatibility are very difficult to overcome and it is important to be honest about this. If you want children and he doesn’t, it will become a problem unless you are willing to compromise. You cannot enter the relationship thinking that you are going to change his mind. If he is telling you this from the beginning, take it at face value.
Would you rather he lie to you and say that he is interested in children only to get married and find that he stands by his original statement that he doesn’t want children after you are married? Listen to what he is saying and do not sugarcoat it. Pay attention to the details because they matter. Don’t romanticize the relationship to the point that you find yourself so far into it that you end up losing yourself to make him happy.
So then when do you call it a day? This where being honest with your self is the best course of action. You can love him, but that doesn’t mean you belong in a relationship with him. Does he add value to your life? This is not economic value but energetic value. In other words, do you look forward to seeing him? Do you feel fulfilled and valued in the relationship? Are you drained or exhausted from the relationship? What is going on in the relationship and how is it affecting you? Where is the relationship going? Is the drama of the relationship creating problems in other areas of your life? Evaluate the relationship honestly.
We all have different thresholds and ultimately it is up to you to decide when you are done.
Just don’t wait until you have nothing left and you are broken. Talk to a therapist about your feelings. Stand in your power and confront your self-doubt about the relationship by talking it out in a safe space with a counselor. Reflect on the areas in your life where you know you are vulnerable and ask for support from a professional. Sometimes the answer is clear and you just need the confidence to follow through.
If this is a pattern in your life, you might want to talk to a therapist to work on breaking this cycle. Maybe you don’t want to leave because you don’t want to see yourself as a failure. Maybe you think that if you fight hard enough, you can make it work. The bottom line is that it takes two to make the relationship work. Don’t carry the burden alone and take responsibility for his unwillingness to work on the relationship. It is okay to cut your losses and run before you lose more than you have already lost. Remember, sometimes knowing when to call it a day is a win.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
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