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How To Know Whether It's Time To Stay or Go?

 

By Dr. Brenda Shoshanna September 2007

 

Many individuals spend a great deal of time in relationships wondering if the person is the right one for them, whether they should stay or go. This question can become so persistent that it becomes hard enjoying being together, interferes with being able to relax and allow the bond to grow.

There are a number of different factors that cause individuals to doubt their relationships. Some say that although they love the person they do not know if they are loved back; others don't know if they're ready for commitment; some are concerned about qualities or behaviors they're uncomfortable with. Others remain in relationships hoping to change their partners, or from fear of being alone. In many cases individuals are reluctant to leave because they don't want to lose the time they've put in, can't face starting all over again. Many do not trust their judgment, fear they'll always make mistakes.

 

There are certain checkpoints we can utilize to see whether the relationship has the potential to be what we're looking for - a situation in which both people feel satisfied and can naturally grow. Many do not take the time to sit down and really ask themselves what it is they need and want in a relationship. Before we turn to the checkpoints, make a list what you truly need and want in a relationship. Be honest with yourself. Divide the list into three sections:

Section 1: List Your Priorities, what is it that which you cannot give up. Some examples might be honesty, monogamy, self- respect. Be honest with yourself. Each one's priorities differ and that's fine.

Section 2: That Which You Want But Can Do Without. Some examples of this could be - enjoying the same sports, enjoying the same vacations, liking each other's family.

Section 3: That Which You Cannot Tolerate. Some examples might be deception, abusive behavior, volatility.

 

After you have worked on your own list carefully, your own needs and values will come into better focus for you. Now take a look at your relationship and see how it fits. Sometimes it will become immediately clear that he is or isn't the right one for you. Other times when it isn't so clear, it is helpful to turn to the following checkpoints:

 

Checkpoints: Ask Yourself:

A) Am I counting on the fact that the person will change one day?

It is always a mistake to stay in a relationship if it is based upon wanting the other person to change. Although people promise to change and want to, change is difficult and it only happens when they are dissatisfied with themselves and in pain. Sometimes people change to please their partners, but often these changes slip away. They are temporary because in order to change deep patterns, time, work and effort are needed.

Look and see how much of this person you can accept just as they are. Then look and see if you can learn to live with and accept the other parts of them. If you want to change most of them, it's best to let go. If there are just a few areas that bother you, try to accept them as they are. When a person feels accepted often to everyone's surprise these difficult qualities change all by themselves.

 

B) Even though they say they love me, do I feel appreciated and loved?

It is one thing to express love verbally and other for it to be real. If you consistently do not feel loved and appreciated, pay attention to that. For love to be real it must be acted upon in ways that are positive and constructive for both of you. Individuals feel loved when they feel considered, listened to and respected. If your partner says they love you, and do not take your needs into account, then this is not love, just some kind of emotional attachment. Trust your feelings. If the relationship is basically good for you, you will feel cared for and caring.

 

C) Is It Easy To Give To The Person?

This is a very good barometer of how you are feeling in a relationship. When we want to give to our partners, (sexually and otherwise), it is because we are usually being cared for in return. When we find it hard to meet their needs, something is wrong. Pay attention to this signal. Find out what is causing you to hold out, if you are. Some withhold their love, time and attention as a way of letting the person know that they are not getting their needs met. Some do it out of anger or hidden resentment about something that has gone on.

When you have trouble giving to your partner, take some time to see what it is you are resenting, what need you may feel is not being met. Then, see if you can ask for what you want. Give the person a chance to give to you. Some are simply are not aware of what their partner's needs are.

 

D) Are They Willing To Talk Things Over Openly?

When this factor is in place, when a person is willing to sit down, listen to you and also tell you what they are feeling, you have a strong, positive element to work with. All relationships run into obstacles, the main question is - do you have the tools and the willingness to work things out? If the person you are with is willing to work on things, then much is possible. On the other hand, no matter how wonderful a person is, if they are unwilling to talk and to listen, it will make it difficult in the long run to build a strong relationship. If they aren't used to doing this, let them know how important this is in a relationship, and start doing it slowly. Talk at times when the person receptive. During your communications be careful not to criticize or blame. Simply say, "This is how I feel -", rather than giving an ultimatum or making him feel inadequate. Give him positive feedback and soon it will become not only natural to share feelings, but enjoyable as well.

 

E) Are They Truthful? Can I Trust Them?

Often there are questions of trust in a relationship. If you find over and over that the person is not truthful with you, then it is very difficult to continue. Trust is the basis of all good relationships. Without trust there is a lack of security and the ability to be open and vulnerable. No matter how many wonderful qualities the person may have, they simply may not be ready for the honesty required in a good relationship. Let the person know that trust is a necessity and see if they are truly capable of it.

 

When you make your list of priorities and answer these basic questions, it should become quite clear whether or not this relationship is the right one. If it isn't and you have to move on, take time to be thankful for all the good you received from this person. Focus on the ways in which you grew and what you learned. Leave with a positive outlook this will help greatly in going forward in your life.

 

Discover the surprising truths about love that will save your relationships, in Dr. Shoshanna’s new e-book Save Your Relationship (21 Basic Laws of Successful Relationships).

Dr. Shoshanna is a psychologist, relationships expert on iVillage.com, speaker, and author of many books, including The Anger Diet, (30 Days To Stress Free Living), Zen And The Art of Falling In Love, (Simon and Schuster), Why Men Leave (Putnam), and many others.  You can contact her, or visit her personal website.

 


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