Ending a Relationship: How Do You Know When Enough Is Enough?
When deciding on ending a relationship, the first question we ask ourselves is: How do I know when enough is enough? Someone very special and beautiful asked me that question this week.
In our culture, we are faced with all kinds of messages about relationships: see the good in people, relationships take work, rise above, and don't have too many expectations. Then, don't put up with anyone's disrespect, take care of yourself, set limits, leave abuse. These messages convolute all our decisions on how to set boundaries in relationships or know when it is right for us to leave them. We don't know who to blame, us or them. Add to it worry and fear about being alone, or being abandoned, or about other people judging you, and it becomes a maze to wade through.
Unconditional Love and Ending a Relationship
Problems in significant relationships effect our anxiety and depression more than any other factor in our life because our relationships and their success define us. These are huge decisions. The heaviness of making the right one, can be immobilizing. One can either open to reconnecting, nor can they step away to relieve themselves. Above all, they lose all trust in themselves, staying in misery and passing it back and forth between them.
We think we are supposed to have unconditional love for our partners and mistake this for having an unconditional relationship. Relationships have conditions! All relationship arrangements are negotiable, and there is usually aspects that for one or both partners that are not negotiable.
It is not easy to chose to leave a relationship and I do not have a prescription answer. Sometimes, it is best and other times it is not, and these both can depend. One thing I do understand is that if you make a decision, you make that your decision. Whichever you decide, you live that decision with your best self. Look deep inside you, beyond all fear and all guilt and there you'll find the answer. Ask your higher self what is the best for everyone involved. Step back from the situation and see yourself and your partner from a distance. This intention and perspective can help you get clarity.
The Ending a Relationship Decision
There is no right decision. Decisions are like everything else, relative. It doesn't matter if it is "right" or not, you make a decision and then make it right for you.
You might decide to postpone your decision to end a relationship, but even that is a decision to be lived instead of lamented. Don't beat yourself up for "not deciding," postpone consciously. But before making a decision about whether to stay in or leave a relationship, think about this:
- Know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. You are perfect and awesome.
- There is nothing to be afraid of, you cannot chose wrong.
- Get people that love you around you.
- Find your worth and know who you are and your purpose.
Then, and only then, the preferable choice will be as clear as day.
How have you decided to stay in or leave a relationship? Let my friend know how you did it. Comment below!
LCSW-R, J. (2012, July 18). Ending a Relationship: How Do You Know When Enough Is Enough?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/07/how-do-you-know-when-enough-is-enough
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
Love to you, my dear! xox Jodi
Thanks again, nice to know others out there share my pain.
I have a saying about myself; I have a 'line in the sand'. I might get close to that line, and I'll take & take & take... but rarely do I cross it. If I DO cross that line, it means that I've finally had enough and it's almost impossible for me to cross back over.
I'm in a 5-year relationship. Keep in mind that neither of us are brand new to relationships -- both of us have been married before. A year ago, after several broken promises and my trust being shattered, I crossed my line. However, because I believe in love and wanted to be absolutely sure, I talked myself into crossing back over my line, learned to forgive, slowly learned to trust again, and put my heart out there again.
Unfortunately, a week ago my heart was broken again, and my trust disingrated. A promise he made to me (a HUGE, deeply meaningful promise to help in our relationship mending) was broken. To make things worse, I found out from friends of ours. I crossed my line again.
We hadn't moved in together (that was supposed to happen this spring), but I had things at his house. After many hours of tearful, heart-wrenching conversations, I told him that I didn't think it was a good idea to move forward in our plans of moving in together, and that I thought we both needed to step back and have time to think. I took most of my things from his house, and left.
Now, after having time to evaluate the relationship, I have come to the conclusion that things need to end between us. We're in different places as far as what we want/need in the relationship, and after 5 years nothing has changed.
I'll always love him (in that caring, once-upon-a-time way), but sometimes, love just isn't enough.
I know it hurts, but I have a feeling it will be confirmed over and over that you did the right thing! Blessing to you in your journey.
Not only is that an issue, but he is stuck in both of our pasts which makes it hard for me to forget it aswell so it's just us playing in a ping pong match hitting back and fourth an emotional ball. Seems like I made the right decision sometimes and other times I feel I am going to die of a brpken heart. So alone and lost, but like the comment above, "this too shall pass"... I honestly can't wait for it to.
Thanks for the post, glad I came across all these stories, too.
I must have missed this comment the first time and now realizing that I never responded! What did you do?
Sometimes it is so clear to us! And we just know. Great job! Looks like you picked you! I wish you all the best.
i stepped back and took an objective look at T's and my actions. this helped me see that T was pretty much putting just about everything in her life ahead of me, and i was primarily something to be worked into her higher priorities, on her terms.
in contrast, for me, most often, T and the relationship were my top priority, my passion. thus, there was a great imbalance.
if there were some significant give and take, we could have made it work. however, by stepping back, i could see that, most often, it was i who was the one giving, and she the one taking. at the end, when it came time to negotiate a key development, she was not willing to do for me what i was willing to do for her (work at/endure for the other's benefit).
thus, from your article above, what resonates best with me is: "Look deep inside you, beyond all fear and all guilt and there you’ll find the answer...Step back from the situation and see yourself and your partner from a distance. This...perspective can help you get clarity." this is indeed the approach i used and helped me to decide that it would be best for T and me to split--and we did, each agreeing that the time was right, and that the relationship--on which we had worked very hard for over five years--had finally run its course.
hope this helps your friend,
We are both 32. I feel like I am at a different stage in my life to him. I want children which he has known for years and he has made it quite clear since the wedding that he does not want them. Initially, 6 months after the wedding he actually suggested we start trying and then took it back almost immediately. He 'jokes' all the time about how he doesn't want them. Every time I try and talk to him about it he goes into shutdown and we end up arguing. He has said he knows he will have to have children with me at some point but will not have a serious conversation about when this will be. I am not getting any younger and I am worried we could have problems conceiving.
Perhaps, more importantly, I am worried about having children with someone who does not really want them. I am worried he will end up resenting me for it. Is it unrealistic to want my husband to want children as much as I do?
On top of this my husband has been in and out of work for the last few years. He quit his office job he hated about 9 months ago and hasn't found another one since. He had the opportunity to work for his parents company which would have given us some additional income in the short term while he was looking for his dream job but he refuses to do it because of his anxiety issues (related to his Dad). I have tried being the supportive wife and have not pushed him to do anything he doesn't want to do but I feel like enough is enough now. I work really hard and earn a decent wage yet do not a) get to enjoy it or b) manage to save any for future as I am supporting both of us.
These are 2 major issues yet it's still difficult to make he decision to leave someone after so long together, especially when we only got married last year. I wish I could look into the future and know I was making the right decision.
I might have already left it too late to find love with someone else and have a chance of having a family. I know that's not a reason to stay though.
Sorry for the long post.
Before you break free give it a whole lot of thought. Make damn sure you want it to be over—not a little over, not mostly over—but over, over.
Make your decision in private. This is not the time for honesty or forthrightness or soul bearing with your mate. They’ll find out soon enough. Is this deceptive? Exactly.
But remember, you’re considering leaving for a reason, not because you’re with Ms. or Mister perfect. Somewhere in this relationship your mate hasn’t exactly been the most honest, the most compassionate, the most understanding with you, either.
And the one thing you don’t owe anybody is to spend your life miserable and unhappy.
If your decision is to end this thing then know this: It’s going to be painful. It might even be excruciating.
But also know “this too shall pass.”
And once it does and you find yourself in a better place emotionally—oh, boy. World watch out!
Hopefully, you’ll bump into your ex one day in the future. If you’re lucky they’ll be pushing one of those a homeless shopping cart down the alley, rummaging through garbage bins for aluminum cans: or maybe they’ll be standing by the freeway entrance pan handling. You’ll drop a few coins in their cup from your air conditioned Benz and speed away with a squeal of tires, wondering what in the hell did you see in that jerk, anyway.
As I'm feeling very sad and depressed over my decision to end my relationship, I know in my mind I made the right decision, even though my heart knew what kind of pain it would be in. I couldn't stay and I couldn't leave. I finally left. I could never trust his mind, because he would always change whatever decisions he would make, in regard to us. I could never get happy about anything, because I knew he would change his mind and I would be disappointed. It was the biggest roller coaster ride I had ever been on. He is a man of 62 years old. He is settled, secure,very set in his ways, and is chronically depressed and has anxiety. I cannot compete any longer with his thinking pattern. So, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, enough was enough. I am broken hearted but I felt, if I had stayed, I would have lost all of my self worth. There were no boundaries in our relationship. Why that was, I'll never know.
There is no turning back this time, as I have done many times before. This relationship is OVER.
I feel like a fool because I, gave him hope, gave him love, gave him strength in himself, made him laugh, shared my friends and family with him. I opened up a new world for him, and his depression/anxiety ruled all.
Thank you for your wonderful message, Adam. It confirmed what I already knew.
You did the right thing. Losing yourself to someone else depression and anxiety–when they are not making effort is not worth it. in the end he had the make the choice to join the living. Here's to much blessing coming from your choice!
Love it! You are absolutely right! The decision is one's own. Chances are if a person is considering leaving there is a pretty high chance that their partner is a selfish one who won't have their best interest at heart. I say, work it out in your own head and do what's best for you.
As far as "homeless and pushing a shopping cart," the person who became so outraged needs to learn to laugh. Obviously, you were joking and depending on how bad the relationship is/was, that mental image might get you through. Besides, you kindly dropped some money at your ex; you're practically saintly. :)
Thanks so much for your comment. Sometimes the act of writing it give us the perspective of audience to our life and we can gain confidence that our decision were right for us, in the larger picture. Setting limits in a relationship is allowed. Knowing the extent to what you can handle is insightful. She needs some motivation to get above her anxiety. Or else the anxiety will always take over. She needs something that is more important than it. Hopefully loving you will do that and this story will have a happy ending. This is my hope for you!
I guess that's when something finally snapped in me. When he insisted he was right, and I was wrong. That I needed to change, and that there was nothing he needed to do. I finally heard what he was saying and knew nothing would ever get better. That was it. And I couldn't accept it. All relationships require 2 people working and wanting it to work. I knew this without a doubt. It hurts so much to realize the other person really doesn't care enough about you to compromise.
Anyway - I am still working through this, obviously. In answer to the question, how do you know when enough is enough? I think the answer for me was just when I felt something in me break. I was finally able to step back, like you say, and I saw things clearly at last. I simply did not have it in me to continue the way he would have wanted it.
It is hard to be with someone who has a victim mentality. When they hurt you and feel offended if you tell them that. It may not be him not caring, just right now he thinks he is the victim and this blocks his view of caring. He feels like he has to protect himself even though he doesn't. I am sorry something in you had to break before you stepped away. Perhaps you'll like this post where I write about it.<a href="http://healnowandforever.net/2011/08/06/how-do-we-know-when-we-are-done-healing/" rel="nofollow">http://healnowandforever.net/2011/08/06/how-do-we-know-when-we-are-done-healing/</a> It is about our responsibility to help others heal who aren't available to it.
Thanks so much for your comment. It is very helpful to everyone who reads!
I know exactly what you mean in terms of needing 2 to comprise in order to make the relationship work. I too was always being blamed for the failings in my relationship and he would never see things for my side. He was always right, if that's always constant in the relationship you do get to point when as you say for whatever reason something snaps and you finally see that the. relationship is not going to work.
If I'm not doing anything with him or if I'm not at his house his security are bad like when I was babysitting last week he actually asked to see the check that I got paid I couldn't believe it- if I don't respond right away in a text he will write three text saying hello have fun whoever you are you with goodbye- when I asked why he does that - you know I'm kidding it's the only way to get you respond back- he says -
I've tried to break it off - he makes it like its my fault - says "you are the one that left " - or he'll say there's the door -
He also repeats some words over and over when talking to himself or upset - he also said if I don't hear him the first time -I am hearing. Impaired and he will say you were looking at me and I said I know but I didn't understand what you were saying that he would throw a fit. He's been rude about that .
Almost everything he have to make a comment about sexual things in every conversation it gets tiresome to hear over and over - it feels like he doesn't respect me -
All the reasons you gave that made me want to stay are true: fear of loneliness, fear of change, fear of people's judgement. I can also add fear of failure. The longer we stay, the harder it is to take the decision to leave. The hardest question I am asked is: why now? why all that wasn't a problem before? why did you wait that long? If you waited 20 years, then you can stay some more. Why now? because now enough is enough. You are right. I think we have a certain capacity of adaptation and patience, but it has limits, and it's limits don't depend only on us, but on others depending on us like children.
The hardest part is taking the decision. Once that is done, the rest will get easier as long as we believe we've done what is right. I totally agree with you that any decision we take is the right one as long as we stick to it.
What helps in taking the decision to leave when there is no more hope of making the relationship successful is to find love whether it is in friendship, in a new relationship, a new job we love, anything, any new purpose or passion. It is also when we have a certain responsibility towards others happiness and safety. Children depend on us to keep them safe.
Ready is relative. We decide to be ready. We think we wait until we are ready but we can decide this any time. Why now? You decided. This is such a positive message, I hope you read it over and over! Just a few days left!
I have had two divorces, both very different. In the first, I was physically and verbally abused. Fortunately, I had access to a therapist at work (for free!) and found the strength to leave. I shudder when I think about what might have happened. After that I remained single for ten years, with lots of therapy, and my relationships became progressively healthier.
With my second husband, it took a long time to get to that decision, and we were separated for a while before I decided to get a divorce. With each step, I waited until it felt exactly right. It was hard because we were good friends, but it was the right thing to do. Our divorce, when I felt ready, was done with love and respect for our 12 years together. People tried to rush me through the decision, but I feel as though we ended it in a beautiful way that left no hard feelings.
Oh, yes, very different. So funny, I have been reading you for about a year and don't know these things about you. Thanks so much for sharing and giving your two cents. I am glad you like that quote. This is very helpful for her to hear. It is important to know there is not just one prescription for how to handle these things.
I decided, (after breaking my leg in the August and spending all day everyday at home getting depressed) that I wasnt where I wanted to be in my life. I split with my girlfriend of two years which came as a big surprise to her and broke her heart. and despite being really upset myself and doubting my decision on numerous occasions I reasoned that overall to avoid me hurting her in the long run she should be shot of me. I stand by that decision. I did not wish to marry her and although that was the only difference (she still loves me and I her) it meant that I was being stuck in a relationship where I didnt feel comfortable. this would have led to me doing increasingly horrible things to distract myself so to be fair to her I ended it there and then.
I still maintain it wwas the right decision. and as for the point about making the decision right for you afterwards? im still working on that. my depression spiralled and has gotten very much worse, with thanks to a very unhelpful relationship in the middle. I have my good days. I have a lot of days I dont even want to move. I havent missed a days work through this yet (despite sometimes not being here mentally even if I am physically) and I have begun to write poetry which is a totally new thing for me.
Thanks you for this question. I wouldnt normally comment on this kind of thing. indeed I dont even read the blog, I was linked here through a friend on google+
Thanks so much for stopping by. It sounds like you stand by your decision! On the other hand depression is there, maybe not related to that decision, but depression clouds our view of everything. I am glad to hear about your poetry. I am putting together a ebook about writing to heal and am interviewing folks. Here's the questions:
1. When did you start writing and why?
2. How did it help you? (Be as specific as possible.)
3. What kind of writing do you do?
4. Have you let people read it? Why or why not?
5. (Optional) Would you like to share a short excerpt? (<100 words)
If you are interested, send answers to firstname.lastname@example.org