Enough is enough (is enough)
I can’t go on, I can’t go on no more, no
Enough is enough (is enough)
I want him out, I want him out that door now
As we rapidly pace toward the end of the year (seriously where did 2021 go?), I’ve been thinking about endings more generally. And specifically about when relationships come to an end.
Earlier this year I had to confront an ending of my own which I’m afraid to say, took far longer than I would have liked for me to recognise that the situation needed to end.
When we care deeply for someone it can often be very difficult to confront the fact that we may need to walk away from them. Equally we sometimes get so caught up in habits, we don’t realise that we’re repeating unhealthy patterns (often patterns learned in childhood) that aren’t serving us or aiding our growth.
How to recognise when a relationship/situationship might need to end:
We hear this all the time but TRUST really is one of the most important aspects of any relationship. If you feel you can’t trust what your partner says or trust that they’ll do what they’ve said they will, you may constantly be in a state of anxiety or even displaying needy and overly clingy behaviours. Equally if they don’t seem to trust you and are constantly questioning where you are and what you’re doing, having to continually reassure them will wear you down over time.
No matter how much you’ve communicated to them that they’re not meeting your needs. You may feel like you’ve tried everything to get through to them but it’s like they disregarded exactly what you need and have forgotten or don’t even care what your love language is. This can lead to them believing you’re nothing but a nag and you feeling unheard and misunderstood and in the long run like you’re not able to express your needs without being met with negativity. You may also feel as though you’re the only one making any effort to sustain the relationship.
You’re both displaying broken communication. Whether you keep having explosive arguments with no resolution or just don’t really speak at all anymore unhealthy communication is a symptom of a bigger issue. You may need to consider the reasons for the arguments, are they happening because you don’t like each other anymore, or possibly because one or both of you feel stuck. Equally if the silence is due to the fact you’ve genuinely run out of things to say to each other then it’s definitely time to consider moving on.
Sometimes you may come to the realisation that your values and goals in life aren’t aligned. In the early days of courtship it can often be such a rush and strong feelings of excitement may overwhelm you to the point you don’t consider the aspects that signify compatibility. If you discover later on that they have glaringly different views or want very different things from life that either you aren’t willing or cannot compromise on, this could signify that the relationship will not go the distance.
You don’t feel like yourself anymore or feel as though you need to drastically change things about yourself to keep them happy. But this will only lead to you feeling devalued, and if they’re putting you down or purposefully making you feel bad this is a big no no and they definitely have insecurities they need to work on but that is no excuse to hurt you. You may also feel as though you aren’t able to be yourself when you’re around them.
You may also feel as though you just aren’t a good fit anymore or you don’t like who they are. It may be that these feelings cause you to focus more on their flaws than their positive attributes and everything they do seems to annoy you. Perhaps they’ve changed, or you’re the one that’s changed which can lead to feeling as though you don’t know them or not being able to see a clear future with this person anymore.
We all like to window shop but if things have gotten to the point where you know that “innocent” flirtation has stepped over the line into the danger zone and you find yourself entertaining serious and consistent thoughts about being with someone else it may mean that you’re no longer emotionally or psychologically invested in your relationship in which case it’s probably time to be kinder to both of you by ending it.
It’s true that the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever and those days of the tiniest temptation leading to a 4 hour sex marathon can’t last forever. I mean we’d never get anything done! But if you find that the reason you and your partner are no longer intimate is because you don’t want to rather than the hectic-ness of life has gotten in the way, this definitely signals a problem in the relationship.
When you’ve realised you need to end it how to do it compassionately:
Assuming you’ve reflected on why you’re no longer satisfied in the relationship and have communicated your needs to your partner giving them a chance to attempt to work through any issues but things still haven’t improved and you’ve come to the decision that it’s definitely time to call it quits then here’s some suggestions for how to break up compassionately.
Once you’ve come to the realisation that this relationship definitely isn’t going anywhere it’s best to let them know as soon as possible. Of course it’s not the easiest conversation to have and it may be tempting to put it off however it’s kinder both to you and your soon to be ex partner to not drag it out. That way you can both begin the journey of healing and moving on as soon as possible.
Think carefully about where you want to do it. Depending on your reasons for breaking up and who your partner is you may want to think about the best place to break up.This may go without saying but in an ideal situation this should be done in person. If you feel safe in their company, choose somewhere private where they can express their emotions without embarrassment and you can also respond to their questions. However if for any reason you’ve established you’re not safe in this persons company then doing it in a public place or with someone else to support you might be the best option alternatively you may wish to consider a phone call or writing a heartfelt letter.
Prepare yourself for the fact that there may be tears, or other displays of negative emotions. Practice what you want to say beforehand and you may wish to pre-empt any questions they might ask. Of course there’ll be lots of feelings from both sides but if you’re the one initiating the split try to remain kind even if (and it’s likely) they take the break up badly. Remember you’ve had longer to come to terms with this break up than they have so try to avoid repeating old arguments.
Allow your ex partner closure by being honest about why you feel the way you do. Be direct, but be tactful, try to avoid focusing on what they may or may not have done wrong and instead use ‘I’ statements to share how you feel and why you feel the relationship is no longer working. Also be prepared to listen and if they have questions answer them honestly and with kindness and keep your answers as succinct as possible.
You may wish to make plans with a friend afterwards so that you have a time limit (allowing a respectful amount of time) and aren’t going round in circles. You can offer to give them time to process their feelings and offer them one more conversation to answer any questions they may have to help them gain closure.
Avoid making false promises and offering to be friends if you know in your heart that’s not something you want or are able to be. And ensure that you’re clear and you stick to your guns to avoid leaving them in a state of having false hope that you’ll get back together. Then allow yourself (and them) some much needed space to process the jumbled feelings you’ll undoubtedly have.
Finally make sure you prioritise your own emotional and mental wellbeing at this time. Being the one to initiate the break up is sometimes no less painful than being the one to be broken up with. Spend time with your friends and family and plan activities that bring you joy and peace. Also remember to allow yourself to feel your feelings and cry it out if you need to and over time remember to check in with yourself to understand how you’re feeling.
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Break ups are never easy but if you prioritise being kind and think about how you’d want to be broken up with no matter how the conversation goes you’ll leave it feeling as though you handled it as best as you could.