When something goes wrong in a relationship and you start thinking about leaving – what stops you? Perhaps your partner has cheated, and you can’t imagine continuing with broken trust or you’ve grown apart and find you have nothing in common anymore.
In your indecisiveness you go round and round in your head but find yourself staying and getting more unhappy. If you find you can’t make your mind up for the following reasons you might want to re-think – these are all unhealthy reasons for staying stuck:
You think it’s better to stay where you are until you meet someone else
You don’t think you would be happy on your own
You can’t imagine telling your friends and family that you have decided to leave
You keep hoping things will change on their own
You hope that maybe your partner will do something so bad that you HAVE to leave
You think your partner will change if you threaten to leave
By sharing your feelings about the relationship, perhaps in a safe place like couples therapy, you can evaluate your options with more information. You might discover that your partner commits to change and you want to give them that opportunity before you decide. You would need to discuss how they could show you they are working on themselves and possibly provide a timescale for re-evaluation.
It might be you have a lot invested in the relationship and you are prepared to take a risk and find out if the relationship improves with regular communication and evidence that things will change.
You could set out your boundaries clearly and tell your partner what you will and will not tolerate. This way you can define the line, that if crossed, will result in you leaving. If the line is crossed, you will know that your partner is not committed to the relationship and has therefore ended it themselves.
Or you might need more time to work out what leaving would really mean. You want to calculate how much money you will have, what the childcare arrangements might look like and what the legal situation is. Depending on the severity of the issues in the relationship, these might be things you discuss with a counsellor, mediator or solicitor without your partner.
Couples therapy isn’t just for couples who have decided to work on their relationship, it can help you move towards a decision and also help with managing a responsible break-up.
Note: If domestic violence is present, you need to take different action and seek advice from a specialist. Free helplines are available: