WHEN TO END A RELATIONSHIP
It was Woody Allen who said a relationship is like a
shark; it must keep moving forward or it dies. I think this
is true with one important difference. A relationship can
live dead for a long time. Many people decide to stay in
relationships that are stagnant or destructive. They have
their reasons. Usually, their primary reason is fear, whether
they know it or not. And fear is paralyzing. Moving through fear takes courage, a willingness to face the consequences, whatever they turn out to be. In the final analysis, it’s a choice we make, consciously or
not. Even refusing to choose, retaining the status quo, is a choice.
Sometimes the options don’t seem very appealing. Life might be even more difficult without the relationship. Why jump from the frying pan into
the fire? And then there’s the fear of loneliness. Even
lousy company can be better than no company. And who’s to
say someone better will come along? And, for those of us who can’t tell bad love from good, at least we have someone to love us, if you can call it that.
For those who are willing to take the leap, though, and
risk aloneness, how do you know when to give up? I think
that depends on how much the relationship is worth to you and
what you’re willing to go through trying to save it.
I maintain that there’s always something you can do to
improve a relationship–if you can find out what that is and
if you’re willing to do it. But you may not be able, without
cooperation, to improve it enough to make it worthwhile to
you. If you’re the only one growing in your relationship it can be boring, if not frustrating.
If your partner wants the relationship enough to join
you in trying to fix it, there’s no limit to your potential
for satisfaction. But you both must be willing to grow. And growth is often painful. Perhaps that’s why you haven’t done enough of it yet. Another reason might be that you didn’t know it’s necessary. Well, it is if you want to change.
Even small changes can help a lot in increasing the liveability of your relationship. Assistance in this project is readily available from marital therapists and in bookstores. Trouble is, many wait until it’s too late before consulting a therapist. By that time, maybe the love is gone and you just don’t care enough anymore to give it your best shot. Man/woman love is pretty fragile and, once damaged, can defy repair. Also, although the information you need is readily available in your local bookstore, many people won’t study it hard enough to make any difference. This takes some concentration.
If your partner resists your best efforts, you may be
beating a dead horse and, you know, a dead horse just won’t pull. You will have to decide if it’s worth it to continue or whether you’d be better off alone.