Knowing When to Let Go of a Relationship
One of the key moments for me in finally allowing myself to let go of my marriage was realising that romantic relationships are meant to make you happy.
They’re not meant to cause you worry, anger, self-doubt or any of those other negative feelings which can crop up when a relationship has run its course, or two people are incompatible.
Of course, it’s important to acknowledge that every relationship has its moments. No relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, runs a completely smooth path. There will be times when you feel irritation or anger towards a loved-one…the difference is that a healthy relationship mostly feels good.
Unhealthy relationships, or relationships which no longer serve you, almost never feel good. They can make you feel sad, lonely, lost, confused, empty and even desperate.
So, lets imagine that you are at the stage where you realise that your current relationship isn’t a good one. There are too many negatives in it; you know that it has run its course and it’s time to move on, but you can’t! Something is stopping you. This is the problem I faced towards the end of my marriage, so I’m sharing with you the thought process that helped me get out and get on.
1. Understand what’s stopping you
I found through talking to friends, family and colleagues that for many people, a deep-seated fear of failure or being alone is what can keep them clinging on to the sinking ship that is their relationship.
Maybe this is because growing up, at times, we’re primed to believe that giving up is wrong or being alone is taboo. That we must persevere through the storms in our lives, stay faithful and true and that marriage especially, is sacred and not to be abandoned.
But these assertions are not always good for us. Sure, there are times when it’s important to grit your teeth and “put up with it” but there are also times when that’s just miserable!
Your life partner is someone who should fill you with joy, prop you up, allow you to prop them up, make you laugh and support you in your quest to achieve all you’re capable of in life; so, ask yourself, what is the real reason you’re staying?
2. Create an action plan
Once you have figured out what may be stopping you from moving on, a future action plan can be really useful. You might not be ready Right Now to make that move and that’s fine, trust me, it took several ‘breaking up’ arguments before I was finally ready to say goodbye.
When I say ‘action plan’ I mean think about living arrangements, who can help you move? Who’s your support network? Do you need to save money?
Knowing that you have this action plan in place makes it easier when the day comes as you won’t need to think about detail.
3. Set a time limit
If you’re still unsure about when to leave but feel you would like to make the move. Set a time limit on your decision.
Choose a date a month or so in the future. Make it a date when there are no other distractions around such as birthdays or anniversaries. Make that your decision day and on that day, take yourself off to a beautiful place and make your choice. It’s your choice to make and only you know the right answer.
You have the action plan ready, so at this hard time you don’t need to worry about the detail. Just put the plan of action into play.
4. Learn to forgive
Even whilst you are making your decision, it is very important that you learn to forgive. Trying to move on in life whilst harbouring resentment or bitterness will only compound your trauma and make things much worse over time.
Studies have shown that harbouring bitterness can cause actual physical illnesses. Dr. Charles Raison, associate professor of psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine and CNN Health’s Mental Health expert doctor, has delved deeply into this and says, “Physiologically, when we feel negatively towards someone, our bodies instinctively prepare to fight that person, which leads to changes such as an increase in blood pressure. “We run hot as our inflammatory system responds to dangers and threats,” says Raison, clinical director of the Mind-Body Program at Emory.
So, each and every time you find your face flush with anger or your heart beat faster when you’re contemplating your relationship; take a breath. Stop, reflect, calm down and think positive thoughts – you loved them once.
5. Find closure
This is vital. Your closure might look completely different to someone else’s version of closure…you might need one last coffee date, one last walk or you might simply need to write down all your thoughts in a letter which you never send.
You might want to go and celebrate with your friends or take a holiday…whatever it is, work it out and do it.
As soon as your relationship is over, and you have dealt with the fact, close the doors and move on. It’s not the same as forgetting…forgetting will happen slowly over time. Closure is the much-needed ritual act of showing yourself that things aren’t the same as they were.
Once you’ve done this, you can begin to move forward in earnest and watch as your life takes a journey down a new exciting path.
Good luck, you can do this!
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