When to call it quits in your relationship

How do you know when it’s time to walk away? picture: unsplash

How do you know when it’s time to walk away? picture: unsplash

Published Jun 6, 2024


How do you know when it’s time to walk away? picture: unsplash

I’m often asked, ‘How do you know when it’s time to walk away?’ There is no right or wrong answer to this one because we all make decisions based on what we think is important at the time.

For me it was when my health started failing and I was more unhappy than happy. The health decision was the swinging vote. I had a rash all over my body and my hair had started falling out.

I know that the decision I made was the right one but sometimes, when the demons roam, I wonder if I did everything I could to save my failing marriage.

The most common reason we stay is ‘for the children’. I don’t believe we do them any favours by staying in a war zone. They know and feel every jibe. They are our emotions on two legs. Children deserve to grow up safe, loved and happy. It’s easier done when the parents are.

If you’re here, trying to decide, let me share some questions that may help you decide, one way or the other.

*Is the change required to maintain your relationship one you are willing to make?

I watch young women do this all the time! I know how it feels because I’ve done it.

You want me to be sexy? Watch the transformation. You’re a vegan, biltong out the door.

You want me to give up my friends – gone! You don’t like red- everything red burnt. You like to read – suddenly I own a library. You like cartoons and comics – I now know everything there is to know and I’ll buy you the software. You don’t like my child – off to boarding school.

You don’t like my family – I’ll only see yours.

We morph into the person they think they want and before you know it, nobody recognizes you and in the words of the Talking Heads ‘and you will say to yourself – My God what have I done?’

I understand making changes because a relationship is about compromise, but you have to be honest with yourself. What are you willing to change and what will murder your soul over the years. The stuff that makes you bleed, well nothing is worth that.

We often stay because we are so terrified that we will be alone and never find someone to love us again and dare I say provide financial support. It is the hardest thing to do to walk

away from someone you love but who is bad for you. I know – I’ve done it. It has taken years to recognize that it’s the best thing I ever did.

*Are you showing up to a conflict differently to the way you were a year ago?

If you’re stronger and it no longer breaks you then good for you. You are managing the relationship and the way you behave.

If you have got more angry, more hurt, more betrayed, more afraid it’s time to think about your choices.

You could seek help on how to manage and resolve conflict, but both have to want to, and follow the process and do the homework which brings me to the next point.

* Have you both been willing to take at least some accountability?

Are taking all the blame, doing all the work or is your partner? Are you both trying to resolve whatever it is that eats away at the relationship.

Affairs can be overcome if they stop, or you are willing to accept them. Maybe Swinging is the answer, maybe it’s not. Trust needs to be rebuilt and more often than not you need help with that.

A mere sorry just doesn’t cut it. Sorry is a change in behaviour. Think about the first question you need to ask yourself, how much am I willing to change? And don’t lie to yourself!

* What makes me fight for this? What makes me fight to keep my partner and what do they do in return?

This is hard because the first thing we say is … but I love him/ her. It’s for the children. But you know why we really stay – fear.

We are terrified of the other side of this. Nobody will ever love me, how will I feed my children? Where will I live? Will I be safe? How will I get to work? And for the more spoilt like me, will I ever go overseas again?

It is incredibly difficult to walk away from a lifestyle even one you pay for in blood and heartache. But know this you are stronger than you feel.

* Have you said the truest thing there is to say or are you holding back?

I have the sharpest tongue and am known to be the fearless teller of necessary truths. There are some things I wish I’d never said or at least found a way to do it kindly.

In anger the worst things are said, and I don’t care how much you say you didn’t mean it – deep down you did. It’s best to know what the truest things are and then find a way to talk about them.

If you are holding back because you are afraid of the consequences – and here let me be clear – if you fear emotional or physical violence – it’s time to reconsider your choice.

* Are there external or biological factors that could be making things worse at the moment?

Stress is a monster. It makes us ill and so nasty. Is cancer damaging intimacy, has breast cancer made you body shy? Has prostate cancer affected your erection? Are your meds affecting your libido? All understandable but talk about them honestly. Find solutions rather than hiding behind – my wife doesn’t understand me!

How long do you think it will last? What can you BOTH do to help each other through this rough patch. Granted it should last forever and if it does – what are you willing to change or give up to maintain the relationship.

I don’t think I would cope with someone who is in a permanent coma. I know that and so does my partner – he would not expect me to stick around. As harsh as that sounds, I know how shallow I am. I certainly wouldn’t want him sticking around.

* Who can you process this with – other than your partner or is shame getting in the way of seeking support?

No person is an island and if you’ve become one, find a friend. I share frivolous details about my life. I bitch and complain about irritations, but I don’t talk about the raw stuff. I don’t admit to my jealousies and insecurities. I know I should, but my ego won’t allow it.

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