Funny as it may be, most of the time we aren’t even aware that we need to move on from a relationship until it becomes evident. Some of us logically know that we should move on — yet we linger on anyway, and then get’s hurt!
Sometimes the old adage “Love is blind” cannot be truer.
There comes a point in our lives when we are in so deep that we cannot see just how toxic and damaging our romantic relationships are.
But no matter how much we love someone, it’s important to draw the line between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy co-dependency.
It’s better to identify when a relationship is going nowhere so that we can address it accordingly, rather than cling onto it in blind hopes that things will change. If we hold on to relationships that are not meant to be, we can never attract new things into our life. We will forever be living in the past rather than moving forward into the future.
Having been in a relationship that led to nowhere, I’ve learned some telling signs on when it’s time to move on.
As I look back in my own personal experience and as I look around friends who have been or are currently in similar situations, I realize that there are common reasons as to why we can’t / don’t move on:
Why it’s so hard to leave
Exactly why do we have such a hard time leaving a relationship, when there is obviously so little joy in it?
The answer is more than complicated.
It’s difficult for us to fail. That much is true in our relationships.
We often convince ourselves we can make any situation better, even when we can no longer control things.
According to Karyn Hall, author and certified clinician:
“Choosing to end an important relationship can be a difficult decision even when the relationship seems full of conflict and emotional pain, with little joy or support.
“You may remember how it used to be, or what you hoped for in the connection. You may also wonder if staying in a conflict-filled relationship will result in a stronger bond.
“Sometimes long-term relationships are strengthened and more intimate after a period of conflict.”
Our attachment and emotional investments hinder us from looking at our relationships objectively. We fail to see the obvious reasons why a relationship is no longer working.
Ultimately, it comes down to this:
You have to let go of something that is not adding to your life. As difficult as it may be, there’s a time when to call it quits.
- The truth hurts. Sometimes the truth is more than we can take. So to make things easier, we continue to live in our false reality. Some of my friends keep returning to ex-es who treated them badly or cheated on them in the past. They feel it’s much easier to believe in the faith of their ex-es than admit to themselves that their boyfriends don’t treasure their relationship that much.
- The other party is giving ambiguous, misleading signals. This was the case for me. Behavior that’s more romantic than platonic. Behavior that spills over the domain of friendship. This led me to think there was something more. Based on your comments, it would seem many of you are caught in the same situation too.
- The other party is giving mixed signals. When we try to get closer, he/she shys away. Then when we try to move on, he/she suddenly tries to get closer. Such confusing behavior, such conflicting actions. What should we do instead then? In the end, some of us choose to linger around, hoping it’ll eventually lead to a positive place.
- We don’t believe we can ever find someone like him/her. Even though we meet new people, we can’t find someone who matches up. What if there’s no one else out there? It’s so hard to even fathom that. I think a lot of us choose to hang on because we are afraid we can’t ever find someone in the future. The fear of being alone drives us to cling on even when all seems lost.
- We are afraid of what’s next if we let go / move on. Having grown comfortable in the relationship, we are afraid of the change that will ensue if we break away from it. What’s going to happen to me? How will my life change? But I’m already so comfortable with him/her! Will I be able to adapt to this new life? Thich Nhat Hanh said it well when he said “We rather stick with suffering that is familiar than pain that we don’t know“.
No matter the reason, avoidance never brings us anywhere in the long term. It’s better to identify when a relationship is going nowhere so that we can address it accordingly, rather than cling onto it in blind hopes that things will change. If we hold on to relationships that are not meant to be, we can never attract new things into our life. We will forever be living in the past rather than moving forward into the future.
11 signs you should leave your relationship
If you recognize any of these 11 signs, it might be time to consider ending your relationship.
1. Physical and/or emotional abuse
Someone who loves you will never physically or emotionally hurt you.
Couples can hurt each other by saying the wrong things or doing something the other person doesn’t like. However, if it has become a pattern of abuse, that’s another thing altogether.
You cannot excuse abusive behavior from someone who claims to love you. And yet, it is particularly hard for victims of abuse to move on from partners.
Daniel G. Saunders, Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the University of Michigan, explains:
“Leaving is often a complex process with several stages: minimizing the abuse and trying to help the abuser; coming to see the relationship as abusive and losing hope the relationship will get better; and, finally, focusing on one’s own needs for safety and sanity and fighting to overcome external obstacles.”
Experiencing any of the above is a clear sign you are in an abusive relationship and should leave immediately.
If you are in a monogamous relationship, cheating is absolutely unacceptable.
Cheating destroys the very foundations of a healthy relationship. When someone cheats on you, the trust, security, and openness in the relationship turn to dust.
Forgiveness can be given. And many couples successfully get over the affair. However, if you are someone who can’t handle the long and emotional process of accepting your partner back, staying is just not worth it.
According to breakup coach Chelsea Leigh Trescott:
“Even when your relationship feels solid, the past has proven to you there’s absolutely zero guarantees that you know what’s really going on.
“For those who saw no signs, and even in retrospect can’t see where they could have done anything differently, staying in a relationship with someone who has cheated will be like handing your heart over blindly to someone you know can’t handle you with care.
As a result, it’s unlikely that the person who was cheated on will ever feel safe, compassionate, or confident moving forward if they were blindsided by the experience.”
Remember, cheating doesn’t have to be physical, it can also be emotional. The hurt, either way, is something you should not tolerate.
3. No sense of purpose
We all need to live meaningful lives and to dedicate ourselves to the people we care about.
I know this because I’ve recently helped create an online course on taking responsibility for our lives. What we teach is the importance of having a sense of purpose and taking action every day towards it.
I think having a sense of purpose is incredibly important in a healthy relationship. On the flip side, when you don’t have a sense of purpose, then it could be time to leave a relationship.
A sense of purpose is especially important for men.
Conventional wisdom says that men only fall for exceptional women — maybe she has an incredible personality or is a firecracker in bed. That we love someone for who they are.
However, I think this way of thinking is dead wrong.
Men care less about the attributes of a woman than they do about how the relationship makes him feel about himself.
Does the relationship provide him a sense of pride and purpose? Does it fit within his identity… the way he wants to see himself as a man?
That’s what the hero instinct is all about. This is a new concept by relationship expert James Bauer that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment.
Men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel essential, and to provide for the woman he cares about.
The hero instinct speaks to the built in desire men posses for something in life that goes beyond sex and even love.
For a relationship to be successful, it must give men a sense of meaning and purpose. That you genuinely want and need to have him around. Not as a mere accessory, ‘best friend’, or ‘partner in crime’.
How do you trigger the instinct in your man? And give him the sense of purpose he craves?
The best place to start is to watch this free video by relationship psychologist James Bauer. You can watch the video here.
James reveals the exact phrases you can say, texts you can send, and little requests you can make to trigger his hero instinct.
By triggering this instinct, he’ll immediately see you in a whole new light. Because you’ll be unlocking a version of himself he’s always longed for.
White lies are one thing, but deliberately deceiving your partner is a serious offense.
Like cheating, lies break trust. If your partner has lied to you about something significant or has continuously lied to you about a number of things, you should start reconsidering your relationship.
Pathological liars are particularly harmful partners. Prolonged exposure to lies and gaslighting can make the sanest person turn crazy.
As psychotherapist Robert Weiss explains:
“The most disturbing thing about gaslighting is that even emotionally healthy people are vulnerable.
“In part, this is because we naturally tend to defend, excuse, and overlook concerns about the behavior of people to whom we are deeply attached. In larger part, it’s because gaslighting starts slowly and builds gradually over time.”
“As the cheating or the addiction (or whatever else it is that the liar is trying to cover up) escalates, the fabrications also escalate.”
You have to consider what kind of lies you can forgive and what lies are absolute deal breakers.
Helping your loved one through a tough time in their life is your responsibility as a partner.
However, addiction is cause enough to leave if your partner refuses to change or has repeatedly proven that they are incapable of getting better.
Psychotherapist Sharon Martin advises:
“I know from my personal and professional experience that relationships can survive addiction and become healthy.
“But I also know that codependents often stick around long after change is likely.
“Please remember that you didn’t cause your loved one’s addiction and you can’t fix it. It’s not about whether she loves you enough to quit or about what you did wrong or what else you can try. Sometimes you need to save yourself before you go down with the sinking ship.”
6. Lack of respect
Mutual respect is another essential aspect of a healthy relationship.
Being continually disrespected is something you should never tolerate, especially from someone who professed to love and care for you.
If someone doesn’t respect you, it means they don’t value you. It means every decision they make will revolve around their own happiness, not yours.
How can you be with someone who doesn’t value your beliefs, emotions, and love?
To answer simply:
7. Emotional distance
Are you growing apart?
Do you feel a significant amount of emotional distance from your partner, despite working through your issues?
At some point, it’s tempting to admit that you’ve done what you could and call it quits.
However, the problem isn’t you. The problem isn’t even with him
The fact is that male and female brains are biologically different. For instance, did you know that the emotional processing center of the female brain is much larger than in men?
That’s why women are more in touch with their emotions. And why guys can struggle to process feelings, leading to serious commitment issues.
If you’ve ever been let down by an emotionally unavailable man before, blame his biology rather than him.
I learned this from relationship expert Michael Fiore. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on relationship psychology and why men act the way they do.
In this excellent free video, you’ll learn about Michael’s life-changing solution for dealing with emotionally unavailable men. His techniques work surprisingly well on even the coldest and most commitment-phobic men.
If you want science-based techniques to make a man fall in love with you and STAY in love with you, this video is well worth checking out.
8. Prolonged unhappiness
It’s true that a relationship isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. But if you find yourself more sad than happy, then there’s seriously something wrong.
A relationship should add something to your life—be it color, passion, growth, motivation, or all of it. Otherwise, what’s the point?
“On the surface, it may seem a magically compatible, quietly successful union, but the lack of excitement and energy observed can be a powerful warning sign that there is trouble brewing.
“There are no surprises, no challenges, and no growth. If their passive behavior is confined to the relationship, they will eventually have little to say to each other, and even lessened passion. If they are getting their needs for transformation elsewhere, the contradiction between their behavior within and outside of the relationship will eventually erase one or the other.”
9. You’re scared of being single.
Are you only staying because you’re scared of being single?
You should never settle for a relationship. Period.
A set of studies published in the American Psychological Association found that people who are scared of being single tend to end up in unsatisfying relationships. What’s worse, is that they actually pursue relationships they know won’t make them happy, just because they’re afraid of being alone.
The studies also found that people who “settled” are just as lonely and as unhappy as single people, which means that it doesn’t really make a difference—only that they’re wasting their time and efforts.
Don’t be one of those people who waste years of their lives being in an unhappy relationship just because you’re scared of being alone. In the end, it’s just not worth it.
Relationships should have balance. After all, it involves two people who are able to compromise, respect, and listen to each other.
An unbalanced relationship, where one partner gives more than the other, is not healthy or normal at all. A relationship isn’t a dictatorship where one must lead and one must follow. It’s supposed to be a team of two people growing together.
Co-dependency is a dangerous thing.
According to Dr. Adithya Cattamanchi, a person who suffers from codependency:
- Find no satisfaction or happiness in life outside of doing things for the other person.
- Stay in the relationship even if they are aware that their partner does hurtful things.
- Do anything to please and satisfy their enabler no matter what the expense to themselves.
- Feel constant anxiety about their relationship due to their desire to always be making the other person happy.
- Use all their time and energy to give their partner everything they ask for.
- Feel guilty about thinking of themselves in the relationship and will not express any personal needs or desires.
- Ignore their own morals or conscience to do what the other person wants.
If you recognize yourself or your partner in some of the above, it’s time to reevaluate if you the codependency can be fixed or if you should continue being in such a toxic relationship.
11. High demands, low gains.
Are you or your partner expecting too much from each other? To the point that you’re obstructing each other’s life goals?
People who are healthy and loving relationships don’t make unnecessary demands that would hinder their partner’s growth and success.
In fact, relationships should nurture individual growth and happiness, not take away from it.
If you notice that you keep putting important life goals on the back burner to maintain the relationship, it’s time to think things over.
12. When you live in past memories more than the present
Do you replay the happy moments of the relationship to make you feel good about it? Do you use them as reasons to continue on with him/her? If so, it’s a sign your current relationship isn’t how you want it to be. The more we live in the past memories and/or a self-created future, the more we are living in a self-created reality. This is dangerous since it’s not reflective of the actual state of the relationship.
You have to remember your relationship with the person exists in the current moment. Not in the past. Past memories should remain as memories and not as a reason to stay together. Your decision on whether to stay with the person should be based on your current feelings for him/her, the actual state of the relationship and the future you see with him/her.
13. When the relationship brings you more pain than joy
Sometimes, we tend to be blinded by the past happy moments of the relationship. To the extent we forget about all the unhappiness it brings us. If your relationship leaves you frustrated/upset/unhappy more often than not; If your relationship is leaving you in tears every so often, perhaps this might not be the right person for you. The relationship you are in now should be one which brings you happiness now. Just like #1, if the main source of happiness of your relationship is from past memories, something is amiss.
14. When he/she expects you to change
The truest form of love is one that’s unconditional. Your partner shouldn’t expect you to change, unless it’s for your well-being (such as to quit smoking or to adopt a healthier diet). Some of my friends had ex-boyfriends who wanted them to change, such as to dress up more often to look prettier or to lose weight when said friend was of healthy weight. There was even one who actually suggested my friend to shave her arm and leg hair because he felt it was a given for girls!
The issue here isn’t about you. The issue isn’t about the change itself either. The issue is about the expectation of you to change. While some requests may start off seemingly normal/benign, they will quickly build on over time. Even as you accede to the requests, more will come. It marks the first step of him/her trying to mold you into his/her expectations of you, rather than you growing into your own.
15. When he/she puts little to no effort in the relationship
Every relationship requires effort by the duo. The same applies for familial bonds, friendships, mentorships, and most definitely love. Both of you have to commit to the relationship together. If you are constantly the one putting in more effort, sooner than later it’ll drain you. You have to give more and more just to keep the relationship afloat. Unless this imbalance is addressed, it will only become bigger and bigger over time. Soon you sink your whole self into it, losing your self identity in the process.
When you see relationships where one is investing way more effort than the other, they are usually headed to doomsville. Some of my friends were in such situations. They invested themselves into their relationships and poured in their hearts and souls. Their partners, on the other hand, only put in a fraction of that. They barely cared – it seemed as if the relationship was just a nice add-on to their lives, rather than something they really valued. Soon, said partners began drifting away. My friends kept giving more and more, hoping they could salvage the situation. This only slowed down breaking off process but didn’t prevent it.
Don’t get me wrong – it is possible for a relationship to last even when one party is putting in more effort than the other. However, are you prepared to do that for the rest of your life? Is your ideal relationship partner someone who doesn’t care to invest as much effort into the relationship as you? I personally think all of us deserves someone who treasures us fully, who wants to be with us as much as we want to be with us. To have it any other way is like having a car with a tyre busted – it’ll keep moving in a slant until it eventually drives off the cliff.
What if you once had a great relationship?
If you think it’s time to leave the relationship, have you done any soul searching about the relationship itself?
Why is the relationship on the rocks? If you once had a thriving relationship, then what has gone wrong?
If you’re a woman reading this, you need to understand what men really want from a relationship with you. I can guarantee you it’s probably not what you think.
There’s a new theory in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment. And it goes to the heart of why some men commit wholeheartedly to their partners while others grow distant and pull away.
It’s called the hero instinct. I mentioned this concept above.
Men want to feel like they’re a protector, provider, and essential to the woman he cares about. In other words, he wants to feel like a hero.
Not an action hero like Thor, but an everyday hero to her.
James Bauer, the relationship psychologist who first discovered the hero instinct, has created an excellent video about it. Watch the video here.
The simple truth is that a man won’t be satisfied in a relationship unless his hero instinct is triggered.
Men have an instinctive need to step up to the plate for the woman in his life. This is deeply rooted in male biology.
How do you trigger this instinct in him?
The trick is to make him feel like a hero in an authentic way. And there are things you can say, messages you can send, requests you can make that won’t make you come across as clingy or needy in any way.
James Bauer outlines what you can do in his free video. Here’s a link to his video again.
I don’t often recommend videos like this. But the hero instinct is one of the most fascinating concepts in relationship psychology I’ve come across.
I think it could be a game changer for a lot of relationships on the verge of being over.
How to properly break up with someone
If breaking up is the right way forward for you, you’ll find it’s a complicated and often nasty task. However, what people actually don’t realize is that many of the complications can be avoided if the breakup is done right.
You need to do it with the least amount of damage as possible. Not only will it make the task easier, but it will help both partners move on better as well.
Here are some simple but effective tips on how to break up with someone:
Be objective when making the decision
Making the decision to end a relationship while being so emotional is a big mistake. It’s not easy, but try to be objective about it first.
According to certified clinician Karyn Hall:
“When you are emotional, it’s harder to problem solve or even consider solutions to difficult issues. All relationships have issues to work out. In the moment, you may view a problem as unsolvable or unacceptable when that is not actually the case. “
Follow through your decision
Don’t add any more drama to the whole thing and change your mind at the last minute. This is why you need to think things through before you break up.
Once you’ve made the choice, stick to it.
According to dating and relationship expert Bernardo Mendez:
“Often times we feel like we have to decide between two bad choices. But remember that there’s always a middle third choice if you’re willing to dig deep.
Moving forward doesn’t have to wait until you have a perfect plan, because let’s face it — there’s no perfect plan nor a perfect time to do this. Breathe, move and connect to the vision of the future that you want. From this emotional space, you can then have a conversation with your partner.”
Have a good support system
Now is the time to depend on friends and loved ones. You can’t go through this alone, and you can’t go through this with your partner.
This means that you have to establish a good support system. Surround yourself with the people who love and uplift you, not people who urge you to make stupid mistakes.
“This support group can include friends, family, coaches, therapists or anyone who can safely hold a higher vision for you as you navigate through this difficult change. It’s important to be specific with them about what you need in terms of accountability, connection and heart-space.”
Confession of an emotionally unavailable man
Navigating love and relationships is part of the challenges life gives us.
We make mistakes, that’s inevitable. But we have to learn from them.
I know this because I’ve been an emotionally unavailable man my whole life. My video above reveals more about this.
And learning about the hero instinct has made it crystal clear why I’m like this.
It’s not often that a mirror gets held up to my lifetime of relationship failure. But that’s what happened when I discovered the hero instinct. I ended up learning more about myself than I bargained for.
I’m 39. I’m single. And yes, I’m still looking for love.
After watching James Bauer’s video and reading his book, I realize that I’ve always been emotionally unavailable because the hero instinct was never triggered in me.
My relationships with women involved everything from ‘best friends with benefits’ to being ‘partners in crime’.
In hindsight, I’ve always needed more. I needed to feel that I was the rock in a relationship. Like I was providing something to my partner that no one else could.
Learning about the hero instinct was my “aha” moment.
For years, I wasn’t able to put a finger on why I would get cold feet, struggle to open up to women, and fully commit to a relationship.
Now I know exactly why I’ve been single most of my adult life.
Because when the hero instinct isn’t triggered, men are unlikely to commit to a relationship and forge a deep connection with you. I never could with the women I was with.
I’ll end off this article with a final quote:
There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life. – Author Unknown
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