When to end a relationship Psychology today Counselor says Do This First

When to end a relationship Psychology today Counselor says Do This First

When to end a relationship?

Psychology today Counselor says Do These

10 Things Before You Breakup

 

Great relationships require hard work, useful information, and a lot of discipline. If you are wondering whether you should stay or go, read these 10 steps to do before deciding to call it quits – insights by psychology today counselor.

1. If in doubt, stay. 
If you question whether you should break-up, chances are you are in the perfect position to heal old wounds and develop new skills to feel better about yourself, your relationship and your life. Ambivalence is a sign that you have more to learn. 

If you are 100% certain it’s time to end the relationship, move to number two. If you have doubt, you need to find the answer to this question: 

What do I need to know to feel confident about staying or about leaving? 

Most people leave a relationship before learning what they need to learn to be more successful in future relationships. 

2. Identify the reason(s) you want to leave (be specific)
Discernment Counseling is a clarification process (read more here) designed to help couples feel more confident about terminating a relationship and knowing when it’s good to keep trying. Usually, one partner is leaning out (wants to end things) and the other is leaning in (wants to work on things).

The three forks in the road are:

  1. End the relationship
  2. Commit to 6 months of intensive relationship work – going all in
  3. Choose to keep things the way they are (which can be a powerful recognition that you are indeed in this unhappy place by choice).

The discernment model describes “hard” and “soft” reasons to break up. Hard reasons to end a relationship include: ongoing affairs, physical abuse, addiction, and emotional cruelty. “Soft” reasons to end a relationship are things like, growing apart, lack of communication, and falling out of love. 

To move in any direction with certainty about your relationship, be sure you can identify what you are feeling and name the source of your pain as specifically as possible. “Hard reasons” do not require the same level of reflection or discernment as “soft reasons.” Knowing when to end a relationship is much easier with hard reasons than it is with soft reasons, but it still isn’t “easy!”


3. Close Exits.
Agree to close all exits. An exit is anything that takes you out of your relationship, despite the fact you haven’t left. These are things like drinking, excessive food intake, unhealthy relationships or friendships, and family relationships that encourage you to leave (for non-“hard” reasons). It is impossible to know when to end a relationship if you have a constant and intense distraction. You must cut all contact with any outside party when there is an emotional distraction, affair, or attraction that is negatively impacting your relationship. You can not fan the flames of a new love interest and expect to have the energy, interest, and motivation to re-ignite a fire with your existing one. I heard it described once that comparing a new love interest to your existing love interest is like comparing the joyful freedom of horseback ride in wide open, unexplored terrain to that of cleaning out the barn and grooming and feeding the horse. 


4. More Responsibility, Less Blame
Move your focus away from your questions about if or when to end your relationship. Suspend your thoughts about whether she offers you what you want and need. Instead, focus entirely on yourself with specific emphasis on what you want in your life, what your dreams and hopes are, and where you want your life to lead. This may require extensive self-examination through journaling, conversations with friends, spiritual leaders or associates, counseling, and meditation. 

5. Reality Check 
Once you can see the vision you hold for your own life, begin to explore whether you can make that vision a reality in the context of this relationship. Share your vision for your life, for your relationship, with your partner and have her do the same. Take an honest look at whether you can achieve those goals together and whether you are willing to work on a shared purpose that works for both of you.

6. Identify and Name the Obstacles 
If you feel you cannot reach your life dreams and goals in the context of this relationship, then turn your focus to the real obstacles. Name the actual barriers that are preventing you from reaching your dreams. For example, if a part of your life dream is to be an aquamarine scientist that requires you to live near an ocean, and your partner wants to stay in her landlocked hometown near her family, this may be an obstacle to your life dream. Be confident that it is the relationship which prevents you from realizing your vision for your life, and not something else. Are you limiting yourself in some way? 

7. Ask yourself the right questions. 
As you identify the obstacles to living the life you desire, experiencing the relationship you want, or achieving any goal, be sure you don’t stop at the obstacle. For every obstacle, ask yourself a “How..” question. If in the example about the aquamarine scientist, you need to be near an ocean and your partner is settled in her land-locked hometown, the question would be: “How can I pursue my dream of being an aquamarine scientist without my wife having to move away from her hometown.” When we focus on obstacles, we lose the creativity and openness necessary to identify solutions.


7. Notice What’s Already Great
It’s no secret that gratitude is a natural healer for most things. When you experience discomfort in a relationship it is natural to want relief. Unfortunately, for everything that feels bad in a relationship, we need five things to feel good to maintain a stable (not even happy) relationship. For a happy relationship, we need to find 20 things good for every one thing that feels bad. If you feel bad, chances are, there is significantly more that works than you realize because of the 20:1 ratio!

When something feels bad, we are more inclined to find evidence to validate the bad feeling, than we are to look for opposing evidence that much more is actually great. You wouldn’t be in this relationship if there isn’t some good somewhere. Chances are if you have 5 complaints about your relationship, you likely have 20 positives that you have stopped noticing.

8. Check your Stories
Most people end relationships because of beliefs they develop over time. “I’m not a priority,” “She doesn’t love me,” “I’m not good enough,” “Nothing I do is ever enough,” “She just wants to control me,” “She’s never happy with me,” “I don’t make her happy,” etc… Identify the stories you relate to. Once you have them, ask yourself this, “What do I feel in this relationship that I also felt as a child?” If you can relate to feeling in ways that are familiar to how you felt as a child, then your “imago” is alive and kicking and it is important to identify how much of your feelings are related to how you’ve always felt, and how much of your feelings are related to this specific relationship. Here is a quick imago quiz to familiarize you with this concept. (It’s relationship changing stuff, people!) 

9. Seek Understanding, Not Proof
Most couples who are considering a breakup do not understand one another. Many people lack the skills to deeply understand the behaviors, comments, and actions of others; and worse yet, are the false understandings which are worse than a lack of understanding.

  • It is easier to judge than it is to understand, seek understanding anyway. 
  • It is easier to criticize than it is to remain curious, be curious anyway.
  • It is easier to assume than it is to gather facts, gather facts anyway.


Most people who exit a relationship have a generic story, a surface understanding of their pain, and an interpretation of their relationship that has been thought for so long that they begin to believe it is true. Do not end your relationship because of stories, assumptions, false interpretations and lack of understanding. Get facts, be curious, lose judgment, and seek understanding.

10. Email me or Schedule with Me (the phone is not my favorite) 
Reach out to me, or another couple’s therapist who has at least one additional credential in couples counseling (Imago, Gottman, EFT, Discernment, etc). Put your relationship in a safe container and commit to doing the work needed to determine whether to work it out or break up. If you are not comfortable going to couple’s counseling with your partner (or she is not willing to go with you), consider going alone with the goal of organizing your thoughts and feelings. Though together is better, when one partner is in therapy, both partners can benefit.
 

When to end a relationship? Psychology today Counselor 

Read More 

Dating Again After a Breakup

10 Types of Relationship Betrayals

Lesbian Couples Retreats

Got Questions?

7 + 2 =

The Breakup Invitation

Tomorrow I am going to a baby shower.  My partner’s sister is pregnant, and I absolutely love babies, so it is an invitation I am happy to accept.  Sadly, I won’t get to hold the baby tomorrow; that would be really awkward since she’s still in her mommy’s belly. Anyway, my partner and I made a mobile, from scratch, which neither of us has ever done before (for the curious).  I’m grateful to be invited to the baby shower and I had no hesitation about accepting the invitation.  In fact, I’m looking forward to it.
Not all invitations are as easy to accept as the baby shower invitation.  Nor do they bring with them a feeling of excitement about what’s ahead.  An invitation is simply an offer, and with it comes choices.  You can choose to accept, ignore, decline, or even say, “maybe,” to the invitation which allows you some time to decide.
We are all being invited, all of the time.  
 
These invitations we are receiving are not the kind that come in the mail, like the recent invitation I received from AARP, after turning 50 last month!  (That, by the way, is still on my “maybe” list, which I think is okay since it does not appear that that invitation will expire before I do).
The invitation I am referring to is pain; more specifically, emotional pain. One of our greatest invitations is through heartbreak.  There is no greater pain I know than that of a lost love.  Well, I did have a terribly infected toe from a pedicure that seemed almost as painful for a minute, but a quick trip to the ER fixed that right up.  That’s the thing with physical pain – there are many quick fixes and ways to speed up recovery:  casts, antibiotics, surgeries, physical therapy, etc.
With heartbreak, we have many fewer resources to help the healing along.  
Sometimes heartbreak comes from the death of a loved one.  Other times, and something most of us have experienced a few times in our life is the pain that comes from the loss of a relationship.  This pain is there for a reason, not just to add insult to the loss.  The pain is your invitation.  (Some invitation, I know).  In fact, the bigger the pain, the larger the invitation.
Many people will decline this invitation for weeks, months, years, or forever.  Luckily, the invitation does not expire (sort of like my AARP card).  The pain doesn’t actually just “go away,” and contrary to popular opinion, time doesn’t heal.  Time is what passes while we do what needs to be done to heal.  Time isn’t what heals us, our choices do.
Healing requires a new perspective on what you’ve experienced (we can’t feel better about something by thinking the same thoughts that made us feel bad in the first place). That’s why reading self-help books, or talking with friends will help you heal.  Healing requires a new focus – something that feels hopeful, engaging, and has the potential to generate joy. That’s why getting out and doing new things, developing new hobbies, and making new friends is helpful.  Healing requires connection, human connection and the feeling that we matter to someone and that our pain matters.  Healing requires us to understand more deeply what our pain is trying to tell us about our choices that led us to where we are.  Healing requires us to allow this pain to run through us in a way that we can feel it, honor it, listen to it, and learn from it, and then bid the pain goodbye.  Pain is not meant to stay.
For a long time, I have sat with many people who are heartbroken about a lost relationship, and I have always known that while therapy is helpful, it does not fully address all of the needs that people need to heal.  Not long ago, I was contacted by someone who was grieving a relationship, and she wanted to know if I offered something to help.  This was the incentive I needed to make the missing resource available.  I have just created a new experience called DML BREAKTHROUGH for single lesbians who wish to experience healing around their past relationships (no matter how long ago your heartbreak occured).  The Breakthrough is a 12 week experience and you can read more about it here.
Something new awaits you and your soon-to-be-healed heart.  The invitation is asking you to come dance in the life you were designed to live.  Are you ready to accept the invitation?

On and off Relationship Break up

What do you do when your partner is regularly breaking up with you, only to ask you back shortly thereafter?

If you are experiencing a relationship, of any length, that involves frequent break-ups, make-ups, and on and off behavior, my suggestion is this:  find out who you are without him or her.  Spend time with friends.  If you don’t have friends, make them.  Join groups, Get hobbies.  Get involved in your own life.  

The worst thing you can do for a future with or without her is sit around and wait for her next move.  Once you know who you are, you will know what you want.  The person you are, the real you, can decide if your life is better with or without him.  Take a personal growth time-out.  Go grow yourself.

Take the same interest in yourself that you wish he would take in you.  Find yourself.  Find yourself.  Find yourself.  Then enjoy your life without him – long enough to know what is added when you’re with him.

Be true to your own goal and timeline.  You can be sure that your ex will resurface as soon as you start to gain some independence and appear as if you no longer need him or her.  Hold the line.  If he or she wants you at this point in your self-growth process, don’t stray from your personal growth time-out.  Stick to the plan.  Let their attraction grow, while you do the work of deciding if the relationship is worth another shot.  Be brave enough to endure the pain of all of the unknowns, with the belief that you will find a more enduring happiness when you source it from the inside out, not the outside in.

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