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!
Lobozzo, J. (2012, July 18). Ending a Relationship: How Do You Know When Enough Is Enough?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/07/how-do-you-know-when-enough-is-enough
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
Is there someone you can talk to, a sister, a girlfriend. It sounds like you need to talk out some feelings and get some feedback. When we get ready to leave relationship (or decide to stay in them) it is always best to have built up a community around yourself. You need to have yourself reflected back by good people who love you so you have a sense of yourself outside the abusive relationship. It helps you see more clearly what to do. Whatever you do, don't isolate yourself! I am with you honey, and sending you a bug hug!
Lots of love,
I'm in the early stages of ending a long term relationship.
We've gone back and forth thinking we can fix things.
He is a long term cannabis user, doesn't drink a lot but when he does it always causes problems.
There has been emotional abuse and physical aggression fr many years.
The trust was broken many times.
Why did i Stay ?
Tried to talk myself into staying but a voice in me s screaming No No No.
I feel guilt for him, I feel like the jerk who had to make a decision.
You are not a jerk. Substance abuse often trumps relationships. He has chosen that. I am glad that voice screamed No No No! It sounds like the voice of your inner wisdom. You will not be free to create and love yourself or others caught in this relationship. Build a community around yourself to help reflect back to you the good in you. Don't stay isolated, guilt will breed and you will feel lost. I appreciate the steps you took for yourself. The world thanks you for coming back to it. Here, you can do great things!
Check my facebook page for comments from the community Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace..
How do I stop this guilt ?? Please help
Just know that it doesn't belong to you. Staying with him doesn't help him, this is his journey, let him take it. You can let it go!
Thank you for this post and all the replies. I have found some comfort and reduced my own feelings of isolation as I sit on the decision fence about my own 7 year relationship. I am borrowing the idea for a temporary break in our relationship from and suggested it to my partner. At first he thought it was a good idea so I talked to my mom about staying at her place while she is away on vacation. When I brought it up again my partner said "whatever YOU want to do". Well we both agreed to this but now it's being laid at my doorstep. This is a common behaviour - I suggest something to get our relationship on track and he goes along half heartedly. I don't know what to suggest anymore - I'm out of ideas. But I like the idea of a temporary break so that I can think and get a new perspective, where I can have mental space to examine where I want my life to go and how my partner fits in/doesn't fit in with that. I do know that his dragging his feet on having/adopting children is beyond disappointing to me. I went off the Pill 2 years ago and that killed his sex drive. Even as I type this I realize what message he is sending me -no kids. And that is one of my non-negotiables. So why have I kept trying to pull this relationship together? Million dollar question. I look forward to next week when the temp break starts but I may not like what I come up with! Regards, Niki
It's sounds like you are clearer than you think you are. Listen to yourself. It's hard to leave what we are comfortable with. It's time to move on.
Ooo! You are between a rock and a hard place. Just listen and try to distract her as much as you can! A clean break can sometimes be easier, but anything can be an excuse to feel worse.
Just love her. She is lucky to have you!
My sister, not me, is currently going through a break-up. I've been there for her but sometimes i don't know how to comfort her when she feels sad and down, especially because since she broke up with him, he has not given any sign of life, and that hurts her because he said he loved her so much. I know the kind of guy he's but I don't want to say too much to my sister for my goal is to support her.
I have been in a relationship with a man (75) and I am 73. We dated 2 years ago and then he just dropped out of site. Now 2 months, he called and I took him back and asked him what he had been doing for 2 years and he said "Trying to get my head on straight) 2 years? So now after 2 months, he has dropped out of site again. Of course, I am hurt and confused but really know I really deserve better. What is your advice? Thanks!!
He doesn't have his head on straight. This is more about how he feels about himself than you. Move on. Find a nice man, have fun with your girlfriends, do things you enjoy! Never for a minute allow yourself to think it is you.
This helps validate my actions last week, when I decided I could no longer work with an abusive colleague. I don't know why, but she despises me - that word is not an overstatement, unfortunately. What made matters worse was that her attitude toward me was also reflected in her attitude toward students in her classroom. Verbal abuse, bullying, and - the final straw that occurred Friday - physical abuse (excessive/undue force). Just unreal. I wondered why I'd been so depressed all year and why I also have been feeling physically low - upset stomach, irritable intestines, nausea. Over the weekend, everything just clicked into place. Yes, the principal has been informed. I told him I can no longer be in that classroom as I believe it's better for the students and I don't wish to be accused of being an accessory to abuse. Today, I feel so much better.
Good for you S! You and the students will be so much better!
[...] Let go of “tit for tat” thinking. “Getting even” is overrated. Remember when people hurt you, they are usually feeling unloved. You don’t have to solve this for everyone, but you can give love to your significant other. This will change their response to you. (Right away or eventually.*) Be kind and compassionate before being defensive and competitive. Express love. * Don’t however stay in an abusive situation waiting for the other person to change. Read Ending A Relationship: How do you know when enough is enough? [...]
I've recently decided to leave my husband. He has a drinking problem and doesn't see it. It's not my goal to convince him. I know what is right for me and this isn't. It doesn't make it easy at all. We have a son with special needs but I realized I worried more about my husband than my son. His happiness became my goal and when I understood that there was nothing I could do I knew it was over. I made a huge emotional investment and I feel defeated and drained. I love life too much to continue this. Wish him all the best.
Dorothy, Good for you! Alcohol stops people from connection in relationships. It is so difficult to live with since it makes family members feel so unworthy. I am glad you are embracing your life and chosing to live it!
Love to you, my dear! xox Jodi
Thanks for sharing your story Dorothy. I needed to hear from someone else in the situation that it will be okay if you leave. My husband of 6 years also has a drinking problem but won't admit it even though all of our known down, drag out fights occur when he has been drinking. We have a 3 1/2 year old and a baby that just turned 1. After reading a journal I started when we met, I realized all of the same problems that I wrote about 6 years ago are still there today but I am afraid to leave because of the kids and their attachment to him and vice versa. He is a great father just not a great husband-verbally abusive with anger management problems. I have been considering leaving for the past month and now feel I know the answer is to put myself first but having kids makes the decision so much harder.
Thanks again, nice to know others out there share my pain.
There are so many others beside you. Substance abuse just gets worse if it doesn't get better. It is not a situation that is good for kids to grow up in. I am glad you are finding support!
It was so funny-and a bit sad-to look at these posts and see parts of me in most of them...
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.
Comfort, instead of breaking the cycle and fixing us right away
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.
Thanks Whitney, you did the right thing, can't move on to a possible future when you stay in the past!
I read through all these comments and they are great. I can relate to some of the stories. Mine is somewhat alike, in a weird twisted way. I fell in love with a drug addict whom says he isn't an addict but when we end up breaking up he runs to them for xo
Whitney, do you stay to protect him?
I'm in a difficult place right now, deciding whether or not to stay or leave. I've been with my boyfriend for 8 years and this is probably one of the hardest choices in my life to date. I don't see my life without him, but at this point I feel like he's not happy. I don't know what I am except confused. Thank you for this blog, I'm hoping for some clarity soon.
I must have missed this comment the first time and now realizing that I never responded! What did you do?
how about 39 yrs and he is so old! feel i would be a rat deserting a sinking ship. he acts as if he don't need me but he is fibbing! hanging on for the sake of the great passion that was in the past. still love him more than he will ever love me. holidays point this up with all the get-togethers.
Past passion keeps many couples together unhappily. :( Be in the present. And decide fro there!
Just a week and a half ago, I ended my 10 year relationship. This was the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but I knew in my heart that it was what I needed to do in order to find true happiness. It's weird, I just woke up one day and felt like something was missing in my relationship. Don't get me wrong, issues have been brought up to him SEVERAL times before, but nothing ever changed. The major thing- marriage. When I took him back 3 years ago and told him that I needed certain things to make it work, he agreed to work on it (example: Do more things as a couple, future marriage & having children). Well, I didn't realize that it had already been 3 years since he told me that and like the above comments, I had to step back and take a look at the situation. So, I brought it to his attention Labor Day weekend. I asked him if he saw me in 5 years as his wife and mother of his child. He told me no because he doesn't think about the future and just lives in the moment! Said that he thought his feelings would eventually change about marriage and that he was being selfish because he wanted me in his life. I'm sorry, but that just doesn't make sense to me! Needless to say, that's really all I needed to hear and I knew then it was over for good this time. I hate that it took so long to realize that this wasn't going anywhere and that I was just holding on to hope. A person that doesn't think about the future is not the right person for me, and I know that now- I deserve better. Anyway, sorry for the long story, but like others have said...it really does just hit you out of nowhere and you can finally say "Enough is enough" and move on.
Sometimes it is so clear to us! And we just know. Great job! Looks like you picked you! I wish you all the best.
ok, jodi, thanks!
good article, jody. i was actually going thru a stay-or-leave decision before, during, and after the august 2012 john perkins omega workshops you helped (so well!) to facilitate. it was a very tough decision, our having been together for 5 years and 5 months. here's how i did it.
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,
Thanks Dennis, i am sure it will help her and the many other readers! When we share from our heart we always touch others and help them seeks what they are looking for. Thanks so much for coming by and going generously of yourself. I did not know you were going through all of this. Such an intense time! Even if it feels right, it is still a challenge to untangle lives since it had been so long. Good luck to you both!
I'm currently trying to make the hardest decision of my life - leaving my partner of 14 (husband of 1.5) years.
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.
It seems that you have a logical approach to a difficult situation. Decisions such as this aren't easy, but you appear to be focusing on what is important to you and comparing it to what is important to your husband. This is an excellent approach, and even though it's not easy, your approach will help you be confident in your ultimate decision.
some one, some were will be good and ready to build family with you.. But you don't know - you busy whit wrong man. .
You can’t leave and you can’t stay. That’s the sad point to which most relationships descend prior to the final curtain.
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.
"And the one thing you don’t owe anybody is to spend your life miserable and unhappy." Love it! Thanks, Adam!
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!
I'm in the same boat. Been with him 21 years this month. I've left and been stalked, mind games, all of it. I have several auto immune system disorders, all getting worse. He has control of everything. All I want is out, a place to live with my little dog...God bless us all xo
Why would you EVER want to see anyone homeless, asking for change and pushing a shopping cart? You are not a whole or healthy person if you recovering from pain from either side of the breakup leaves you 'hoping' to see you ex, and wishing others the sane good fortune, of wishing to see someone you were involved with be a caltive victim to your sick revenge fantasy! You disgust me! I had an abusive ex. All I hope for is to never see him again! My last ex is an avoidance addict and he broke my heart in a brutal, cruel, deceptive and cowardly way. But that comes from the well of his own pain. Even though I have my own and he didnt take me or my kindness into consideration when he went through his cycle, I still cried when I realized what he had done before and continues to do to his own life. I cry for me too. But I will NEVER be a dead inside person. And btw, your joke is repulsive. I have a family member who was homeless. She was also terribly abusive from a mental illness. But NOTHING she did merited what her life was like. So grow up lest your sick joke turns out to be your own reality one day. Project bitterness, negativity and revenge into the world? Reap it back.
I loved your comment. I have been in living hell for the past month or so. He said if he moves out, he isn't helping me. I let him go anyway. I couldn't live with myself letting his exwife cheat with him, and not know. I had no clue for so long. But, it was time for me to know, because I was becoming self destructive. I know my angels helped me go through this. I am so lost. I have no money, no phone, and three daughters. I have rent, finish this semester, and put up with him being on drugs and sleeping with her even to this day. He stopped all communication. is she pregnant? what could be worse?
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. :)
Above all, the question to ending a relationship is big one: it implicates many doubtful matter on our global life functioning and determines overall personal, professional and social statement of anybody. Even your observation to relationship are important, it remains yet many unspeakable issues that deserve further elaboration. For instance, how to manage the risky situation with any that you ending the relationship with the blessing: enough is enough. The life is somewhat more than our personal decision, either it is impulsive or after longtime bad experiences. My remark is very concrete: what do you do if "persona non grata" is in circumstance to deliver your lover person from any danger situation? In Consequence, the decision to ending a relation with any unpleasant person is very rude and empirical, because the real life from us require infinitive needs and deeds as well.
Thanks you Musli!
I'm in the decision making stage myself and had to make the hard choice to give my gf an ultimatum due to my depression. Her constant promises to move in only to have that move in not happen last minute due to one thing or another(more often than not her lack of self worth and self confidence and controlling parents as well as fears of the move and what it will do to us and what would happen when we do break up as well as other things.I talked to her about them and explained things about how I feel and how things work in our apartment). But due to my fragile mindset I had to tell her that if it happened a 6th time than I would have no choice but to end our relationship either until she got things sorted out or I managed to move on. Which ever happened first...I love her with all my heart so I pray it doesn't come to that, but it needed to be done and I don't regret the decision to do so even if my anxiety and stress has been way higher than normal because of it...I'm not sure I'll ever have the strength to leave her otherwise. She is such an amazing woman even if she doesn't realize it and I don't mind let our relationship move as slow as it needs to as long as we're together. Thanks for writing this. It helped ease some things I had on my mind as well as helped ease the negative talk in my mind of "maybe everyone is right and we were doomed to fail from the start".
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 have recently detached myself from a significant close friendship that was causing me pain. I am still reeling from it. Knowing I did the right thing, but sometimes still regretting it. The hard thing for me is wanting very much to see things from his point of view, but he refuses to see things from mine. We also both suffer from depression and I felt like I was committed to be there for him and help him and empathize with him. But then I found that I needed to protect myself even more than that. I find myself rationalizing his behaviour in terms of his mental health problems. But then I know that it is still no excuse for how he was treating me. But then still, he feels he is the mistreated one and that I am the one that needed to make the changes for our friendship to continue.
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.http://healnowandforever.net/2011/08/06/how-do-we-know-when-we-are-done-healing/ 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!