Wednesday, December 9, 2009
GUEST BLOGGER: Amanda Kane, LSW
When to End It
Sometimes knowing when to break up is easy. A specific event or dramatic betrayal clearly signals things are over. But frequently, knowing when to break up is messy and confusing. Doesn't everyone know a couple who should have called it quits a long time ago but remain together, steadfast in their mutual misery? People waste years in unfulfilling relationships because either they don't know when to pull the plug, or they would rather continue with the familiar than risk the unknown.
Should you breakup? If you don't have a definite answer, then you are probably feeling the pull of conflicting emotions. Wading through this emotional quicksand can feel overwhelming. Although each relationship is unique, answering the following questions may bring you some clarity.
1.) Why you are still involved in the relationship? There isn't a correct answer to this question, however it is important to honestly reflect on your reasons.
2.) How are you feeling? Consider this in terms of both your life in general as well as your relationship. Is your hatred of your job spilling over and coloring your feelings for your partner? Adjust your perspective and look at the context surrounding your relationship.
3.) Why do you want to break up? Try to be a specific as possible.
4.) Are your needs are being met? These may include emotional needs, social needs, sexual needs, etc. No partner can be expected to meet all your needs, but reflect on the role this person fills is your life. (If they aren't filling any needs, then see #1)
5.) Are you willing to work on the relationship? And equally important is the other person motivated for change? Typically one partner is more eager for change than the other but as long as both people are "on board" change can happen.
Although these questions are relatively basic, sometimes the most straight-forward questions give the most valuable insight. If you choose to work through the issues, couples therapy provides a safe space. You are setting aside special time to focus on the relationship and your partner. The therapist will facilitate communication and highlight dynamics that are both ingrained and dysfunctional. The aim of therapy isn't to blame but to help each person to understand where the other is coming from. The goal of therapy isn't always to keep the couple intact. Sometimes couples therapy can facilitate a more graceful ending to the relationship and a sense of closure.