I guess if you’re reading this, you’re probably in a place of emotional pain, you’re probably not clear whether you should break up or not, and you’re wanting some guidance to help you make the decision.
Break Up or Make Up?
Perhaps the first question you could ask yourself is – what makes you think you might need to break up? Have you got an intuition that you’re in the wrong relationship, or you’re staying in this relationship for the wrong reasons?
If you were honest with yourself and chose to admit to yourself what you already know but are currently not facing up to, what would you be doing?
And if you were advising a friend who was in the situation you’re in, what would you be telling them to do?
Truth is, it’s never the same when you think about what you would do: when your own relationship is feeling a bit fragile you lose your objectivity, you think of reasons to stay together rather than separate, and you endlessly think about how you might feel when your partner’s become an ex-partner – would you want to get them back, thinking you’ve made a terrible mistake? Would it be better to avoid having to try to get your ex back by simply not breaking up in the first place?
So here are some hints and tips which might help clarify what you need to do. But before you go any further, you might want to consider how you’d feel if your partner became your ex. Would you want to get your ex back?
The Secret of Making Up or Breaking Up
How Do You Feel About Your Partner?
This might be a clichéd question, but it’s important: is there something about your partner that you’re not acknowledging to be true?
In other words, do you accept them as they truly are, or do you want your partner to change just because you don’t like something about them?
Bear in mind that if you expect your partner to change for your sake, then it’s not unreasonable for them to expect you to change for their sake – and such expectations really don’t help a relationship. A good relationship is based on mutual acceptance for good or bad, no matter who you or your partner may be; this can be the firm foundation of a genuine relationship where neither partner has unrealistic expectations of the other.
So, for example, how does it feel if you say out loud (not necessarily to your partner; you could try saying it to a mirror) “I hate the fact that you go out drinking with your buddies on a Friday night”?
Maybe you need to say something much more serious than this. Perhaps your partner never spends any time with you, or never reveals their feelings – or something equally important. Whatever the nature of the question, you need to ask yourself whether or not the benefits of the relationship outweigh the fact that your partner is behaving in a certain way.
If you think the relationship is worth saving, then obviously you need to accept your partner for who they truly are, and stop trying to change them. (You do know why trying to change your partner in a relationship is a bad idea, don’t you?)
In essence, what it amounts to is that if there’s something so big about your partner, something that triggers you so much that you can’t get over it, and your partner won’t change, then perhaps you need to end your relationship. The areas where this may be especially true are around politics, religion, sex.
How Do You Feel About Yourself?
A lot of people in relationship forget that they need to look at their own issues as well as their partner’s. Perhaps you’re trying to break the relationship up because you can’t face something about yourself?
It’s not impossible, even though it sounds far out, for people to break up a relationship because they’re anticipating hurt or pain or mishaps… and they want to pre-empt the pain by breaking up before it happens. The right thing to do in this situation is to talk to your partner and work through the issue.
However, if you are so insecure, you might not be able to talk about these things with your partner – in which case undertaking some personal self development work such as counselling or therapy might be a good idea. Running away from your own fear is unproductive; going into the fear and feeling it more fully can help you move into a better, more developed and more functional place in life.
In short, if you’re feeling that you want to break up, it might not be because of anything your partner is doing, but it might be something you’re doing to yourself.
Why Are You in This Relationship?
Surely you’re not in a relationship simply because you don’t want to hurt your partner’s feelings by leaving?
Sadly, it’s possible you are. There are plenty of people in this world who’ve been brought up in such a way that they haven’t learned how to put their own needs, desires and wishes first. Instead, they somehow seem to think everyone else is more important than they are.
And that extends to relationships: it’s entirely possible for some people to stay in a relationship which is dysfunctional or a waste of time simply because they don’t have the courage to leave.
If you don’t know how to stop being a people pleaser, then it’s probably a good idea to get some help with that! Running your life by trying to get everyone to like you – including your ex partner – is going to exhaust you.
Breaking up isn’t the end of the world, and if you put your mind to it you will always recover emotional balance.
And you have no responsibility to protect other people’s feelings and emotions by staying with them whether you want to or not.
In any event, if a relationship isn’t suitable for you, or it’s not what you want, deep down you always know it. You just have to allow yourself to feel it. And by ending the relationship you’ll be doing both yourself and your partner a favor – he or she can then move on and grow as a person (provided they take the opportunity and they DO NOT try and find out how to get back together with their ex – that’s you – after the breakup!)
Equally, you don’t want to stay in a relationship just because you’re lonely, do you? (If your fear tells you “don’t break up”, then ask yourself what the risk would be if you did break up. You’ll most likely find it is something major. That’s what you need to address.)
I know breaking up is hard to do, and it can be very painful, and in the period after you’ve broken up you might feel like your life is over, suffering emotional pain you never felt before. Even so, it’s a bit demeaning to both you and your partner to stay in a relationship with them just because you’re frightened of being on your own. Better to suffer the pain of relationship than to suffer the pain of having to work out ways to get your ex back, eh? I don’t think so.
Again, it might be helpful to get the help of a counselor or therapist to get some good relationship advice so you can understand why it’s so important to be with somebody just so you feel better.
Have You Lost Interest in Each Other?
Sad fact, but true: people grow emotionally at different rates, and one of the consequences of emotional growth can be that you suddenly find the person you’re with doesn’t interest you any more. This may mean saving your relationship is not possible.
This is life: it’s impossible to make a commitment for life to another person, simply because you don’t know what life is going to throw at each of you.
If people truly commit to each other for life, then there’s the possibility that they also commit to depriving themselves of the emotional growth and experience of life they need to become who they truly are.
And it’s no different in a relationship that’s been running for just a few weeks or months. The sooner you accept how you really feel about your partner the sooner you can do something about. That might be finding out how to save your marriage or it might be getting some break up advice….
(When you open up to your own insights, you might realize things like: I am not in love with him any more. I don’t even like her any more. I hate the way she tells me to do this and that. I can’t stand his sexual demands. And so on.)
To help you understand what you’re actually feeling, you need to find a space where you can deeply reflect on your own feelings, and truly acknowledge what your mind and body are telling you. The temptation of course when we are feeling discomfort is to avoid the discomfort by finding a distraction that will help us pretend nothing is amiss.
Instead, settle down in a place where you have time and space to yourself to reflect, and become aware of what you’re thinking and feeling – particularly in your body, which will never lie to you about the truth of the situation you’re in. You just have to learn how to talk your body’s language. It’s often much better to know if you’re about to become an ex-partner than to find out unexpectedly….. that way, you get to take the initiative with your ex rather than have a struggle afterwards. It’s never nice to discover you made a mistake and find you want to get your ex back after you have broken up. Getting back with an ex requires a lot of time and emotional energy!
Relaxed and Comfortable With Your Partner?
Although it’s a sad fact, many people find that one of the first signs they’re not with the right person any more is that they’re embarrassed about being seen with their partner by their friends. If you’re not proud of the person you’re with, why are you with them?
There are more tips on another page of this site – which you can find here – explaining clues which suggest you might not be with the right person.