The dating scene is a jungle. It’s kill or be killed– or at least it feels that way.
In the age of side-chicks, sexual ambiguity and gender identification issues, sweetheart scams, catfishing and all the other shenanigans that come with dating, finding someone to settle down with seems impossible.
But then you strike gold.
You find yourself in a committed long-term relationship that has the potential to go the distance… and you’re unhappy. Being unhappy is not reason enough to end a solid relationship–is it?
Your partner is the correct gender, he/she is not abusive or a psychopath, has a job and seems to be committed to you and to the relationship. That should be enough.
But what if it isn’t?
Love versus convenience
Humans are creatures of habit. Once you find something that works and that makes you comfortable you fight to keep it. You embrace the status quo and shun change. Comfort becomes your default. You will endure sadness, depression and live a life that is unfulfilled because it’s convenient.
You rationalize staying for a variety of reasons. Maybe
- You have kids together.
- You’ve been together for a long time.
- You feel that you’ve got too much time, energy and money invested in the relationship.
- You just don’t feel like starting over.
And while some of these–such as having kids together–are legitimate reasons to stay in your relationship, if you really perform a deep assessment of how you truly feel you will most likely find the driving force behind your decision to stay is, it’s just easier
You stick with your default–comfort and convenience at all cost.
Longevity does not measure quality
Psychology experts believe that unconsciously we all believe that longevity equates to “goodness.” And there are a plethora of instances where this is an accurate rationale. When a particular product or methodology has stood the test of time, it is probably superior to alternatives, at least in some respects.
The problem is that longevity and tradition aren’t always accurate predictors of goodness — inertia, habit, and the good old fear of change can all be the true reasons why we stick with what we have.
The first problem with chasing longevity or quantity over quality is that you rob yourself and your mate of the opportunity of finding true love and a fulfilling relationship.
The second issue with trying to force something that isn’t meant to be is it can cause resentment, anger, depression and a host of other emotional issues. Feeling unfulfilled for long periods of time can lead to you lashing out at your mate–unfairly–and can also be the breeding ground for affairs and create a toxic environment for you and your partner. You could wind up hurting each other so much deeper than if you simply ended things amicably. Staying can actually do more harm than good.
How to get out of the box
The first and most important thing you must do when contemplating ending the relationship is to communicate with your partner. You may be surprised that you are both on the same page.
Regardless how they feel and what you ultimately choose to do, your partner deserves to know upfront that you are unhappy and are contemplating ending the relationship. Having this type of crucial conversation is not fun or easy. But it is the right thing to do for both yourself and your partner.
And even if your partner is devastated initially, chances are when they step back and evaluate the relationship, on some level they already knew. In the end, honesty is always the best option.
Sometimes, easing out of a relationship is easier than just ripping the band-aid off. Taking a break from each other could be the best way to give you both space to breathe and really evaluate the relationship.
- Establish a time limit: Set a time limit for how long the break will last. Once the predetermined amount of time has passed, be sure to come together and discuss next steps. You never want to leave the relationship or your partner in limbo. You, the relationship and your partner need closure.
- Don’t date other people: Taking a break is not a license to cheat nor is it an opportunity for you to see if there is someone out there better than what you have. The break is about self-reflection and self-evaluation. It’s a trip you have to take alone. If, perchance, you do find someone else while you are apart, break things off with your partner immediately. You always want to act with integrity.
- Establish ground rules: Sit down with your partner and spell out what is acceptable behavior during the break. Establish how often you will communicate, if/when you will go out or see each other and under what circumstances. Be clear about the space you need and respect the space your partner requests.
- Don’t establish false expectations: Whatever you do, don’t insinuate or hint in any way that you will get back together after the break. Be clear about your intentions and your desire to end the relationship amicably. Don’t establish false hope or make your partner think that if he or she changes something that the relationship will continue. That is not fair to either of you. Don’t blame them for the relationship ending–simply let them know that you are unhappy in this relationship but not because of anything he or she has done. It just isn’t a good fit. Be lovingly firm in your explanation.
Deciding to end a dating relationship is never really easy–if you care for the other person. Having the courage to let a stale and unproductive relationship go is a tremendous sacrifice and an act of love. It could be the greatest thing you’ve ever done or it could be the biggest mistake of your life. But that’s how life works.
If you want a genuinely happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship, you have to be willing to take some risks. Staying in a relationship out of fear, guilt or for any other reason except genuine and true affection for the other person is damaging to you, your partner and the relationship.