May 7, 2015
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
You ask yourself this question when you encounter fundamental challenges in a romantic relationship. Do these challenges indicate you simply need to work harder on your relationship? Or are these challenges a sign that it’s time to move on?
You eventually arrive at one of three options:
- You stay, consciously work on the relationship, and it improves.
- You leave, consciously make a clean break and get on with your life.
- You stay, hoping things will change, hoping your partner will somehow see the light, hoping something will come along to more or less “force” your relationship to improve.
This third option is absolutely crazy-making, and all too common. If you find yourself sinking—maybe very slowly, quietly—into the relationship quicksand, here are a few tips:
Be honest with yourself
If your partner is, for example, a chronic cheater or an alcoholic, don’t delude yourself. Stay if you choose to stay, but assume your partner will continue these behaviors. By staying, you are silently agreeing to tolerate these.
If you leave, make a clean break, especially upfront
Don’t leave or threaten to leave as a manipulation. Don’t try to remain friends. Don’t drunk-dial your ex or drive by his/her home or place of work. Don’t find excuses to see this person again. If you left an item at your exes’ place, consider just letting it go or asking your ex to put it in the mail.
Better to make a bad decision than no decision at all.
If your relationship is broken, it’s not going to fix itself. When your car breaks down, you fix it or you buy a new car. You don’t expect it to magically repair itself. When you are passively waiting to “see what happens” in a troubled relationship, know that past behavior is the best predictor of current behavior. You already know what’s going to happen, because it’s happened over and over again. Try something different. Do something, say something. Take a chance. For your own sanity, decide on a course of action and don’t torture yourself every step of the way by rethinking your choice.
If you’re dating a dud, then own up to your own poor choice. There are many fish in the sea, so why did you pick this one? I get it—You didn’t know he/she was a dud when you first started dating. But again, this one’s on you. A good relationship starts with a good choice of partner, which means you need to develop a very refined “bullshit detector.” This comes from knowing yourself.
Remember: Being single doesn’t make you a failure, and being in a relationship doesn’t make you a success.