As a relationship therapist in San Francisco, I spend a lot of time helping people mend their relationships. Whether those relationships are between spouses, siblings, parents and children or just friendships, there are many ways to improve your relationships. But what if you have a relationship you aren’t so sure about maintaining? How can you tell when it’s time to end a relationship?
All relationships ebb and flow. Some relationships can stand the test of time because the bonds were built in childhood – you can go decades without seeing your BFF, but when you do it’s like no time had passed at all. Other relationships take a lot more work. Some of them should be allowed to die.
We all move in and out of relationships throughout our lives. As our time becomes more precious – now we have a spouse, kids, activities and aging parents to care for, there just isn’t enough time in the day to make time for maintaining some relationships. Relationships that fade away don’t need ending, but some relationships – toxic relationships – do. So how do you know when it’s time to end a relationship?
How to Tell When it’s Time to End a Relationship
It Becomes Work – When a relationship becomes a chore it’s time to look at it objectively. It wouldn’t feel like a chore if you really wanted to see that person, right? Maybe they’re overbearing or never let you get a word in edgewise. Maybe they never return your call and it feels as if you’re putting in all the effort to maintain the relationship? Whatever the reason, if it feels like heavy lifting to manage or maintain a relationship, it might be time to let it go.
It’s Abusive – Abuse can happen in any kind of relationship, not just romantic ones. If you have a friend, partner, date or sibling who is abusive you need to establish some boundaries. If physical violence is happening to you call 911. If you’re being verbally abu you’ll need to stand up for yourself and remove yourself from the relationship. Abusive relationships take an amazing amount of effort to leave so it is wise to seek professional assistance.
Trust is Gone – While it is possible to regain trust with someone, it doesn’t always work. If you find yourself questioning everything you partner says or does it’s probably time to think about ending the relationship. Trust is built over time and once it has been shattered it is extremely difficult to repair. It can be done, but it takes a lot of work with a therapist helping both of you. Depending on what shattered the trust, it might be a good time to reconsider if the relationship is worth maintaining. If being in a relationship without any trust makes you feel crappy, it is definitely time to think about ending it.
There is no Support – They say character is not revealed until there are trying times. Sadly, sometimes the character that is revealed is a jerk. If your partner can’t be supportive while you care for a sick parent or are struggling with your own health issues, it’s time to move on.
Ending a relationships is never easy. But life is short and the person who walks it with you should be all in. You should never have to make excuses for someone else’s bad behavior, especially as it relates to how you are treated. Sometimes relationships fade away, other times you’ll need to take a more proactive position and end it. It’s never easy but eventually, you will both be happier for it.