Making Up vs Breaking Up

We’ve all been in this situation: not knowing when to end a long-term relationship – or indeed, whether to end it at all!

Making Up – Or Staying Together

So it’s an important question, since relationships are an essential element of everybody’s life, and for many people are probably the biggest factor determining their happiness (possibly after wealth).

get your ex back
Make up or break up?

How do you decide whether to split or stay together?

Obviously sometimes a relationship so wonderful that there’s no doubt you want to stay together.

And obviously sometimes there is no doubt a relationship’s so bad you risk your sanity if you stay in it.

But what about when your relationship’s reasonable or pretty good? How do you then decide if it’s good enough to stay in for the rest of your life, or bad enough to leave for something better?

Being in this situation can be really uncomfortable – as you probably know if you’ve been there.

There’s the comfort of being where you are with what’s known; and on the other side there’s the prospect of what’s not so good and the discomfort of searching for a new relationship you might never find.

And yet, to be stuck where you are by fear of loss or never having anything better isn’t a great place to be, either.

Or perhaps you’re actually holding yourself back for some reason from finding the relationship you need – maybe because deep down you’re not sure if you’re good enough.

All of these questions and issues make this a truly difficult decision.

Steve Pavlina writes about this on his blog and recommends a book called Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum which helped him to see relationships in a whole new way.

You know how everybody thinks of relationships in terms of the pros vs the cons, the good vs the bad, the negative vs the positive?

Well, how about taking a radical view and forgetting that approach? Of course it seems logical when you’re thinking about breaking up, weighing the good things against the bad things.

breaking up is hard to do
Good vs Bad – a way to decide if you should stay in relationship?

But it’s not really very logical, because every relationship has good things and bad things. You have to go a little bit deeper than the superficial to make a good decision about whether to break up or make up. (And making the right decision means you don’t have the pain of getting your ex back later!)

And remember, if you’re basing your decision “whether to stay or go” on the back of relationship pros and cons, you have to take into account the possible pros and the possible cons arising in the future.

This makes your decision-making strategy even harder and, if we’re honest, less relevant than ever. What you need to do instead, is actually work out the true state of your relationship right now.

And of course if you’re actually ambivalent about whether to stay or go, it means your relationship’s not doing too well. Think about it: if you were in a really positive relationship which made your heart sing with joy, you wouldn’t be thinking about whether to stay or whether to go, would you?

So what’s the problem now? That’s your first question.

Some trenchant advice for all couples
Some trenchant advice for all couples

In her book Mira offers you 36 questions which can answer yes or no – and each of these questions is explained very thoroughly with several pages of detailed information.

Each question provides you with a “filter” about whether to stay or go, and if you pass that filter you move onto the next one. If you don’t pass a particular filter, then the suggestion is that you might consider ending your relationship.

Obviously, to stay together you have to pass through all 36 filters and say yes to all of them.

However although this sounds harsh, most of the questions are very simple and straightforward and you’ll get through those easily.

(For example, if you fail the “does your partner beat you?” test, the recommendation is you leave your relationship. No surprise? Well, some people need those questions, even if you don’t. A lot of women stay with men who beat them.)

So let’s assume that particular level of question doesn’t apply to you, which means you will have about 12 questions which might reveal whether or not your relationship’s worth saving or whether it might be better just to break up now. Even if breaking up is hard to do….. not doing it might be better than trying to get your ex back later!

(Just so you know, the outcome of these predictive questions is based on long term observation of real couples – in other words people who failed the filters and stayed together – did they break up later? Answer “yes”, almost always.)

Having said all of that, you’re not going to be able to rely completely 100% on the author’s opinions because she doesn’t know your personal circumstances. That’s not an excuse for not following her advice: it’s just a warning to make sure that you’re doing the right thing.

What it means is that when a breakup is recommended in the book, it’s because most people who chose to stay together (historically) in the situation to which the question refers were unhappy. Conversely, the author observed that people who broke up when they were in that situation tended to be happier.

So in other words, all of these decisions are based on happiness – which is fair enough. If your relationship’s not making you happy, why would you stay in it?

In among all the other aspects of information in the book, there are a few interesting questions which are key pointers.

For example, if your God, divinity or divine power told you that you were free to leave the relationship, with no question of any retribution, how would you feel? Relieved? Aha….

And are you getting your needs met? (Assuming you are clear about what they are.) If you don’t get your needs met in a relationship, then clearly that relationship is doing more harm than good.

What about liking your partner? Do you actually like your partner? Do you believe that they truly like you?

And is their sexual chemistry? Do you feel a spark for your partner?

Is your partner prone to behaviors that make your relationship difficult, like uncontrolled anger, or smoking and drinking? Are you tolerating things that are intolerable for you?

Are you truly compatible with your partner?

Do you have a sense of mutual respect for each other?

And so on.

In essence, all of the questions or filters which Mira offers in her book are about establishing whether or not your relationship enhances your self-esteem, supports you, and meets your needs.

And remember that even if it seems difficult to leave, long-term happiness is often just around the corner even though your current relationship seems like it’s doomed.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that the question of whether or not to leave your current relationship has nothing to do with difficulty or otherwise of finding a new one.

Happiness can be just around the corner, even when you think everything's pointless...
Happiness can be just around the corner, even when you think everything’s pointless…

If your current relationship isn’t serving you in all the ways that it should do, then I’d say your duty to yourself is really to finish it, to break up, and to go off and then find out how you can attract a new partner.

Remember: you can’t objectively assess whether or not you’re a worthwhile candidate for a relationship with someone while you’re in a relationship that’s turning sour.

And if your relationship “analysis” suggested you’re in the right place, so much the better. How wonderful to be with someone who meets your needs, makes you happy, and fulfils you so much that your relationship is too good to leave.