Calling it quits…
Relationships are so important to living a healthy, fulfilling life. But often times our relationships are not healthy, not fulfilling and sometimes down right dysfunctional. I hear the question a lot in my line of work, “how do I know if/when I should end this relationship?” Maybe it’s because people are coming for guidance specifically about an unhappy partnership, or they are coming to terms with dysfunctional family dynamics through the work we are doing together, or they have grown through the work and they are literally outgrowing certain friends/partners/family members. This is an important question to ask and it cannot be answered by anyone else, only we know when it’s time to call it quits on a relationship. When I’m asked this question, I usually answer with another question, “Would it be OK with you if nothing changed in your relationship in the next year or five years or ten years?”
I have had to ask myself this same difficult question in many of my relationships over the years. I have been in relationships where I was expecting another person to change in some way, but they had no intention (or need) to make the changes I wanted from them or vice versa. No one wins in this kind of dynamic, one person may feel unfulfilled or diminished in the relationship and the person that is being asked to change ends up feeling unaccepted. I have spent years “waiting for another to reach their potential” and I have had to ask myself “who am I to define someone else’s potential?” I had realized in some relationships it was actually an act of violence for me to stay in the relationship. Not because I was being physically abused or abusive, but because I was not content with the person as they were. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is let another person go! Some basic signs that it’s time to let go of a relationship are:
- When I want another person to be different than they are or they want me to be different.
- When I’m talking myself into staying in the relationship because of fear, loneliness, or conditioning.
- I feel I have to diminish myself to make another feel OK.
- I’m constantly compromising myself in an unhealthy way.
- The relationship feels consistently one-sided.
- I don’t feel safe being vulnerable with them or they hide their vulnerability from me…there is no real connection!
- They don’t support or respect me and/or I don’t support or respect them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should leave all relationships if they get difficult. Or even if some of the above come up within the relationship, because in the right relationship they will come up and can be utilized for real growth, if approached with a lot of honesty and mutual work to shift the relationship dynamic. Relationships are going to be challenging at times and people that we develop connections with will ultimately push our buttons. What’s important is that I ultimately like and respect the person I am in a relationship with, not their potential, not if they change x, y, or z… and they like and respect me as I am.
Some things that are particularly important to me in my relationships, are if we are both willing to be vulnerable, honest and responsible for our own “shit” and willing to utilize the relationship to heal old wounds and evolve as a person. I have relationships where this is a general agreement between us; that our goal is to fully step into who we need to be, support one another in that, call each other and ourselves on our shit when it’s there and the relationship generally feels balanced and reciprocal. It’s a beautiful thing and it also has it’s challenges. There is no running away here, I am forced to face some uncomfortable things, but ultimately these relationships are where I want to put my energy! They allow me to learn, grow, and accept myself…and that’s ultimately what I’m in this world to do!