January is a busy time in the world of relationships. It is a month that is traditionally teeming with resolutions and renewed self-discipline, meaning the cities are filled with singles determined to take control of their dating lives and couples wanting to refresh, enrich and repair their relationships.
It is a common period of reflection too and so over the last month I have been working with both men and women who are going through the process of reassessing their relationships either independently or with their partner.
This article won’t categorically tell you whether you should stay in your relationship or leave it, but it will give you a few things to think about regarding whether to stay or leave, along with explaining the best mentality to have regarding any decisions…
Where the dilemma comes from:
There are generally two causes for getting to the situation where you are thinking deeply about whether to stay in your current relationship or not. The first is created over a period of time where the relationship is either becoming monotonous, or you feel that the relationship is selling yourself short. Basically, you can fathom a more ideal relationship.
The second cause is when there is one specific and often drastic event that makes you reassess the whole foundation of the relationship. This could be a betrayal of trust such as your partner cheating on you or lying to you, or it could be some other event that contradicts the person you thought you were with.
Having high standards:
The biggest thing to bear in mind when deciding whether to stay in a relationship or not is to be true to your personal standards. If you are a person who wants the absolute best out of your love-life then you must never settle for a relationship that is anything short of perfect for you at any given time.
A common suggestion from peers and even therapists to this whole situation is to list all the pros and cons of the relationship and see which side of the list is favoured more heavily when it is complete.
The problem with this approach is that relationships are dynamic and changeable. Not only will you find that certain points vary in intensity as your state changes from day to day, you will also have trouble pinpointing certain things as solely your partner’s fault.
A couple having constant arguments is a good example of this, as the bias towards whose fault the arguments are will lead to further inconsistencies. All in all, the list approach will probably leave you more confused and more indecisive than you were just basing your decision on gut feeling!
Rather than making a list of the good qualities your partner has, try making a list of the qualities you want your PERFECT partner to have and then seeing how your current relationship compares. Although there are many couples who manage to craft a lasting relationship despite not necessarily being ideal for each other or not being consistently happy together, you are doing yourself a disservice if you halt your search for the perfect partner in order to have a relationship or marriage prematurely.
There are many times in life where we don’t feel as much self-worth as at other times. For me, since deciding to take control of my dating life back in 2003, I’ve always made sure that my relationships aren’t decided by or affected by those negative moments.
What this means is that unless a relationship of mine at any given time is anything short of perfect then I will be honest with both myself and my partner and not try to make it something it is not.
The best mentality to have when deciding whether to stay or leave a relationship:
The following diagram shows the four different attitudes one can have when deciding whether to stay or leave a relationship:
Whilst the decision of whether to stay or leave is completely down to you and there is no right or wrong answer, observing the four final paths, it is quite obvious which two are the healthiest options. The four final choices can be placed into two categories: remaining unfocused and indecisive, or taking action and moving on. It is the second category that you want to follow, regardless of what your initial decision was.
If you stay in your relationship but don’t make any effort to change or solve any of the issues from the past, then those issues will remain.
If you decide wholeheartedly to stay in your relationship and then proceed to actually embrace that decision, promise to put aside any of your past conflicts and work on enriching the relationship then you are one step towards making it fulfilling.
If you decide that leaving is the best option but it is done without courage or clear thought, then you will inevitably feel the loss of suddenly not having a companion. It takes a lot of mental effort to move on after a breakup, which includes taking action towards finding someone new.
The key piece of advice here is to be proactive once the relationship is over and not dwell on what has hypothetically been lost. Feeling the loss is the main cause for couples getting back together after a breakup. Whilst the relationship can be different once it has been restored, remember that you broke up for a reason and it is imperative that neither person ignores the issues that were originally there.
To summarise the key points of this article:
- Be true to your personal standards and don’t settle for anything less.
- Make a list of how you visualise your ultimate partner and relationship and see if that is possible to create from your current one.
- Whether you decide to stay or leave, follow through on that decision with full commitment and positivity. 🙂