Ask Dr. Tracy

When To Get Out Of A Relationship

Unhappy with your relationship but not sure whether you should keep trying or not? Here's when to split:

A dozen sound reasons for getting out of a relationship:

1. If You've Been Hurt Physically

Temporary Insanity may have worked for Lorena Bobbitt, but you're not running a court of law. Ignore excuses and apologies; if violence has surfaced, it will surface again. Get out at the very first strike.

2. When You're Totally Incompatible

If your lover's dream is to drop out and become self- sufficient on a farm somewhere, and you're a city person with ambitions, one of you is going to be seriously unhappy if you stay together. Or, if you always want to go out and he or she always wants to stay home, look for someone whose social style is closer to yours.

3. When He Or She Isn't Even Close To Your Fantasy

If you're a longtime luckless single, you may be tempted to stay with someone just because they're available and willing, but don't do it. He or she has to turn you on somewhat; there has to be some chemistry and some future.

4. When He Or She Just Can't Say "I Love You"

Even if there's chemistry, if someone can't express their love for you with affectionate gestures, nurturing, and the magic words, "I love you," you'll never feel really satisfied with them. See "The Broken Popcorn Machine Parable."

5. When He Or She Is Just Not There For You

If you've been dating for more than six months and you can't count on him or her to come and get you if your car breaks down, or to be your date for New Year's Eve, or even to feed your goldfish when you're away on a business trip, then you don't have a solid relationship.

6. When You're Afraid To Express Yourself

Being in love should bring out the best in you. It should help you be less self-conscious and make you more open and alive. If instead, you worry that you'll upset the applecart if you say what you think, or if you're afraid that the least little thing will destroy the delicate balance you've achieved, or if you feel like you're walking on eggs all the time, get out.

7. When Your Self-esteem Is Suffering

If your relationship is demeaning, makes you feel bad about yourself, leaves you feeling like you're never listened to, and you're getting more criticism than praise, then it's time to get out. A good relationship makes you feel respected and loved, worthwhile and good about yourself.

8. When He Or She Is A Philanderer

Philanderers usually leave track records behind them (see "Qualifying Someone"). If you discover your mate has that kind of history, don't believe "never again." The heartache and torment will never end. And in the age of AIDS, any kind of a sex life with an unfaithful mate means condoms forever. Who needs this?

9. When He Or She Commits An Unforgiveable Act.

There are single acts which are so beyond the pale that they should mean THE END. If he or she sleeps with your best friend, stands you up at the altar, or commits murder, dump him or her with no second chances. Even if you were to able to forgive, your self-esteem would never recover, and you'd still always be angry at him or her underneath.

10. When The Same Problems Recur

Sadly, loving someone doesn't alway guarantee that you can happily spend the rest of your lives together. If you've broken up and gotten back together, and you're still having the same fights, the same problems or different versions of the same problem, especially if you've tried relationship counseling, then give up and find someone else.

11. When He Or She Says "I Need Some Space"

The relationship seems to have stalled, and then your partner mumbles something like, "I want time," or "I want space," or "I want to date," or "I need to devote myself to my career." Almost always, what he or she means is, "I want out." These things happen. Don't drag it out. Say, "Sounds like you want to break up. I'm sorry you feel that way, but I understand. I hope we can remain friends."

12. When The Relationship Just Doesn't Progress

Relationships have a natural progression (see "The Steps To Commitment"). If you're not progressing and you can't pinpoint the cause, you might want to try relationship counseling. However, if he or she won't go, and things don't improve, the relationship is coming to an end. Again, these things happen. Don't drag it out.

If you're still not sure about your relationship, read "`Convenient' Relationships". If you decide the relationship can be saved, all of the articles in Category 4 of my Library can help you, starting with "Why People Love". If you decide it can't be saved, read "Ending It" and "Letting Go".

Related Keywords: Letting Go, Criticism, Fighting, Dependency, Infidelity

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