If you're in a relationship and considering breaking up with your partner, then my sympathies are with you. Few decisions are more confusing or heart wrenching, and it can leave you sitting on the proverbial fence for days, weeks, or even years.
After all, you love your partner and want things to work out. But, for whatever reason, the relationship just doesn't feel right. Maybe there are a few seemingly unfixable problems, or recurring issues. Maybe you two love each other dearly, but just want different things. Whatever the case may be, it totally sucks and the decision process can feel damn near impossible.
This is especially true for couples who have been together for forever. "The prospect of starting from scratch seems daunting, and it seems so much more comfortable to stick with the person who already knows your flaws and quirks, than risking being vulnerable with someone new," life coach Iris McAlpin tells Bustle. Plus, you might live together, love each other's friends, or be best friends yourselves.
There are a million "what ifs," and even more factors to consider. It's a tough decision, and one that shouldn't be taken lightly — especially if you're feeling so 50/50. Read on for a few tricks that might help you decide.
1. Make A List Of What You Want In A Partner
Of course you could do the old pro/con list, but nothing's going to be more telling than writing down a list of your "non-negotiables." Maybe you want to have a kid, or you need to be with someone who loves relaxing at home. "Whatever your needs are, figure them out and compare them to what your current significant other is able to give you," says psychotherapist Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher LMHC, CRC. Does he or she also want kids? Are they all about staying in on a Friday night? Then it may be worth keeping them around.
2. Listen To Your Intuition
You know that nagging feeling in your gut? The one that led you to click on this article and (hopefully) figure things out? That's your intuition talking, and it's often worth listening to, health coach Dillan DiGiovanni tells me. Your gut has a way of pointing out what you do and do not want. So if things don't feel "right," they probably aren't.
3. Hear What Your Friends Have To Say
If your friends have been telling you to leave for years, it may be worth taking their advice, licensed marriage and family therapist L. Gordon Brewer, Jr., MEd, LMFT tells me. After all, these people love you and know you best. And, they have that handy outside perspective. So if listening to them helps, great. Just make sure they have all the facts first, lest they steer you wrong.
4. Make Some Changes And See What Happens
If your relationship is suffering due to specific problems, make one last ditch effort to address them and see what happens. Do you guys have money issues, or do you suck at arguing in a healthy way? Sit down and talk about it. If your SO is receptive and works with you to make changes, then they may be a keeper.
5. Take A Look At Yourself
Even though it's so tempting to blame your partner for everything, relationships are a two way street. So take the time to evaluate yourself, Brewer tells me. Are you contributing to the issues? Are you also unwilling to change? Figuring out how you add to the problem might mean salvaging your relationship.
6. Look At The Percentages
No relationship is 100 percent wonderful 100 percent of the time. Life is tough and relationships are tough, so you can reasonably expect to experience ups and downs as a couple. But take note if there are more downs than ups, relationship expert Stef Safran. "If you are finding that you are more unhappy than happy with the person, you may realize that you are not meant to be together."
7. Imagine Your Older Self
Think of yourself in 10, 20, or 30 years. Can you imagine yourself with this person, even though things seem so bad now? "If they are just rough patches and you see a healthy future with the individual, it is probably worth it to push through and continue with [them]," says life coach and blogger Josh Johnson, in an email to Bustle.
8. Get To Talking About The Future
If things are weird between you and your SO, it may be because you haven't discussed the future. Not only is this a good idea (obviously), but it's also a handy test to see if you two are on the same page. So have a chat about moving in together, or getting married. Do you guys see eye to eye? Then all may be OK, Safran tells me.
9. Evaluate Your Fights
After a particularly horrible fight, you might feel like throwing in the towel. But before you do, it can help to examine the fight. If it was full of personal attacks, or if your partner didn't focus on the matter at hand, it might mean things should come to an end, psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells me.
10. Check For Any Remaining Passion
It's not healthy to expect the "honeymoon phase" to last forever. Most relationships settle down and get comfy — and way less fiery. But you two should still enjoy each other's company. So take note if the passion is gone, "especially when the sex has diminished and it's 'just not there anymore,'" relationship expert Janis Spindel tells Bustle. It may be a sign that you need to move on.
11. See If You Still Share Core Values
If those fireworks are gone and you're having disagreements, it can be cause for concern. But these things are often normal parts of being in a relationship. So you'll want to look at your core values. You know, the things that make up who you are as a couple. Do you guys still want the same things? Do you still share the same morals? If not, it may be a good idea to part ways.
If your relationship is truly bad enough to end, you'll know right away. It's when it hovers somewhere in the middle that things get tricky. So check in with yourself, and do some evaluating. Hopefully you'll be able to figure things out.