Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether your relationship is falling apart or if it just experiencing a few innocent growing pains. Relationships are meant to enhance your life, to add depth and meaning, to nourish your happiness. If it is not, you are only depriving yourself of living life to its full potential. However, it is often extremely difficult to abandon a relationship that you have dedicated years to when you are not certain ending it is the best option.
Before beginning to talk about when it is appropriate to end a relationship, it is vital to clear up a common misconception. All relationships change. As they grow, they often reach a point of comfort that is not necessarily as exciting as when it first began. If the only problem is that you are not getting excited butterflies every time your partner walks into a room, the relationship has settled, and you just need to reignite the spark. When the love is still alive and growing, putting the effort into creating your own fireworks instead of waiting for them to appear is all you may need.
Other issues regarding a relationship may be or should be deal breakers. These are problems that jeopardize one or both person’s happiness, safety, or life goals. While they might be easily recognized, they can just as easily melt into the background. In such cases, you must remember that people do not change; waiting around for someone to cross over to your desired path does not happen without feelings of resentment.
This text will help sort out the signs of a dead end relationships and those that will lead to a life of asking of yourself “what if?” If you are considering leaving your partner, be sure that you are honest with your internal dialogue. You may be faced with some tough questions, but honest recognition of the problems will lead to a more fulfilling life or a new reassurance in your relationship.
Abuse is never an easy situation to face. For this reason, many victims of domestic violence endure the pain without ever seeking the help they deserve. They may convince themselves that they deserve the abuse. They may make excuses for their partner’s behavior, such as having a stressful job. They may believe that he/she will someday change causing the victim to suffer the pain to protect their abuser’s reputation.
Types of Abuse
The first that comes to everyone’s mind is physical abuse. This includes punching, slapping, kicking, and any other type of violent act. It does not matter if it does not leave a mark or scar; it does not even matter if it hurts or not. What does matter is that the abuser is not respecting his partner.
Another form of abuse is mental or emotional, the most overlooked form. Mental abuse occurs when the abuser degrades or insults the victim. They might insult the other person’s looks, intelligence, or beliefs. More extreme cases will include the abuser breaking their victim down with words to the point where he/she no longer feels worthy of love.
Sexual abuse is another overlooked form of abuse. This one is more difficult to pinpoint at times because sexual activity is often an integral part of the relationship. It becomes abuse when the abuser coerces the partner into an act or forces sexual activity. Even when the relationship is consensual as a whole, sexual acts are viewed as consensual on a case to case basis.
Signs of an Abuser
The American Psychological Association released the top ten signs of an abusive partner in an effort to encourage victims to leave the situation. Part of their inspiration was the fact that more and more children were falling prey to abusers because a parent refused to leave their abusive spouse.
- Jealousy and Possessiveness – Family, friends, and co-workers are seen as a threat so the abuser attempts to isolate their victim. The abuser may confuse his victim’s conversation with another person as flirting or soliciting sex. The victim is viewed and treated as property.
- Control – The abuser takes control of the finances, the car, and all the attention of the victim. He/she will become angry at any sign of strength or independence.
- Superiority – The insecurity that many abusers possess will show itself in the constant need to be right.
- Manipulation – The abuser will attempt to turn the tables and blame his/her abusive behavior on the victim. He/she may convince the victim that the abuse is an effort to help cure the wrong behavior of the victim or cause the victim to feel sorry for their behavior that the abuser must tolerate.
- Mood Swings – Most abusers are not always in an aggressive mood. They will rapidly switch from being aggressive to apologetic to loving within a short time span.
- Actions Contradicting Words – After an incident has taken place, the abuser will make promises that it will not happen again and profess his/her love and apologies. Later, the promises are broken.
- Punishment – Punishments can only be imposed by someone who is superior. A relationship should be between two equals. An abuser may withhold sex, intimacy, or conversation to get his way.
- Unwilling to Seek Help – An abuser will make excuses and blame his/her actions on outside circumstances. He/she will not acknowledge that there is anything wrong.
- Disrespect Towards the Opposite Sex – This will include his/her partner, family members of the opposite sex, and general disrespect towards outsiders of the opposite sex.
- History of Abuse – This can include abusing previous partners, abusing animals, or being abused in the past.
When a partner exhibits one or more of these behaviors, a psychologist would deem the relationship abusive. Studies have also shown that the behavior does not mellow with time. In fact, the abuse will become more aggressive and more frequent the longer the victim allows it to continue. In cases of abuse, it is important that the victim puts an end to the relationship before the abuse reaches a point of no return.
In other cases, the problems in the relationship are not as extreme as abuse. The two involved may actually be extremely in love and hope to spend the rest of their lives together. Unfortunately, committing to a person also means committing to his/her choices and values. Sitting through a chick flick or attending the occasional sporting event to appease your partner is one thing, but comprising your values and beliefs to stay with someone results in inevitable resentment.
The decision to have children or not to have children is one that should not be taken lightly. Some people consider having children of their own to be life fulfilling and necessary to their future. Others are indifferent or are certain they do not want to raise children. Neither path is more right than the other, but trying to combine the two is always wrong.
The problem with the children argument is that there is no comprise. You cannot switch off days of having children like you might be able to do with arguments about cooking or cleaning. It is a lifelong, 24/7, expensive commitment. If your partner knows for certain they do not want children and you know that your life will never be complete without children, it is likely that the relationship will turn sour at some point, be it now or in 10 years when it may be too late.
Money cannot buy happiness, but it does buy security. Money is usually not of great importance early on in the relationship when both partners are still in control of the own finances. When paychecks and payments are, for all intents and purposes, combined, stress easily becomes a new unwelcomed component of the relationship. This is no way saying that marrying rich is the only way to be happy; you need to know you can be happy with the person with or without money.
However, if your partner is irresponsible with money or racks up debt, you are placing your credit score at risk. A bad credit score can mean the difference between getting your dream home and staying in your leaky apartment. When money is involved, everyone in the relationships must be in agreement on where it will be going. Keep this thought in mind: the relationship has the potential to become extinct long before the function of money becomes extinct.
Your partner’s occupation may seem to go hand in hand with the money aspect, but a person’s occupation has a greater bearing on their life and personality than their bank account balance. Some jobs require extremely long hours which mean you may never get to see your loved one, or be left alone. Other jobs require days or weeks of travel. Others contain more stress than anyone can handle.
There is nothing wrong with whatever career path your partner chooses. You must decide if you are willing to support it or not. If it conflicts with your dreams for the future or causes constant unhappiness or stress, it may be time to break out of the relationship. While some cases may be able to reach a compromise, it is unfair for either involved to sacrifice a dream.
Religion and Spirituality
Often times, someone’s religion or spiritual belief is something that has been embedded into their very being. When a couple is on the same wavelength in regards to spirituality, there is nearly no possibility of problems arising. When each partner has their respective beliefs, the potential for conflict increases depending on how different the beliefs are and how much dedication each person possesses.
Religious problems can pop up all over the place. The families of the couple may be against the relationship. The couple may argue over which holidays to celebrate. If kids are involved, which path they will be taught will come into question. Also, each may feel as though the other is disrespecting their beliefs when they choose not to follow.
Substance abuse can include everything from social drinking to a full-fledged addiction. As an individual, only you can know where you stand on the issue and what you will tolerate within a relationship. While some will be extremely lenient on their regulations, others will not be comfortable with alcohol or cigarettes present. Before you end the relationship based on your partner’s substance preferences, communicate your concerns.
Ending a relationship because of conflicting values is difficult, but in order to be fair to yourself and your partner, it may be necessary. Just as you deserve to live out your dreams and hold onto your beliefs, your partner deserves to do the same without the guilt of holding someone else back.
Honesty & Trust
You could have an amazing relationship. You and your partner could communicate wonderfully, have a perfect sex life, and genuinely accept each other. Then something sudden may sneak up on you to shake the foundation of all of this. A few examples include:
- Breaking a promise
- Secret from the past
Coping with a dramatic appearance of one of these can be impossible. The shock and dismay might prompt you to instantly leave your partner, but some problems can be resolved. Calm down and ask yourself, “Am I still able to trust him/her?”
While love is the basis of a romantic relationship, trust needs to be present in order for it to survive and thrive. If your partner cheats on you or lies to you, you may question every move he/she makes. This nervous suspicion will slowly but surely eat away at the relationship. When apologies are not enough to allow you to move on, or when the trust is broken beyond repair, you must acknowledge the damage by ending the relationship.
Many couples experience a lack of spark and maybe even a comfortable boredom, but this is not a sign of a doomed relationship. This is a sign of a relationship that has settled and is not a reason to end it. Reliving some past memories or making at effort to create some new ones is all that may be needed to revive the passion.
Other times, the feelings tell a different story, not one of comfortable commitment. You may feel irritated or trapped much more than you feel bored. This is often a difficult feeling because there is not necessarily a fault that can be legitimately pinpointed in your partner. All you know is that for some reason you are unhappy with your partner and the guilt of not knowing why keeps you with him/her.
Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself when the unhappy feelings are debilitating the relationship:
- Do you look for excuses to avoid spending time with your partner?
- Do you look forward to obligations such as work that that limit your time together?
- Do you find yourself no longer sexually attracted to your partner?
- Do you avoid physical contact with your partner?
- Do you avoid communicating with you partner?
- Do you engage in and start fights that have no definitive purpose or conclusion?
- Do his/her unique quirks irritate you?
If you answered yes to any of the above question, it may be time to reconsider your relationship. However, make sure that those feelings have been present for some time. A few days of confusing thoughts are not solid enough to end a relationship that has lasted for years. End the relationship when you have these feeling continuously for weeks and they only increase in intensity.
No matter what the circumstances, ending a relationship is a daunting task. Playing out the scenario in your head can make you nervous and second guess your decision. Ask yourself these questions with honesty before deciding:
- Is this an abusive relationship?
- Do we have the same values and goals in life?
- Do I trust my partner?
- Does he/she add fulfillment and happiness to my life?
What truly matters is that you are happy with the person. You only get one chance at life, and it should not be wasted in a mediocre or dangerous relationship. You and your partner deserve to find true and fulfilling happiness.