Knowing when to end a relationship isn't always easy. Sometimes you have a clear moment when you know you can't be with this person any longer, but other times you can go back and forth — and back and forth —wondering, "Is my relationship worth it?"
Because even when things are bad, it's easy to tell yourself that every relationship has its difficult patches. But if you're always in a rough patch, it's probably time to call it quits.
"Relationships do take work, and there is occasionally conflict," couples therapist Jim Seibold, PhD LMFT, tells Bustle. "However, if you have to try too hard to make the relationship work, it may not be right for you. Ultimately, if you are not compatible, the relationship will crumble. Instead of trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole, look for a better fit. It may be painful to end a relationship and you may feel overwhelmed at the possibility of having to start over. However, the longer a bad relationship goes on the more pain you will experience."
But how can you know for sure? Relationships take work, sure, but how much work is too much? Although every relationship is difficult and every couple has their own problems, whether or not a relationship is worth it boils down to one thing: You need to take a look at the relationship as a whole and ask yourself one very important question.
Does It Make Your Life More Positive?
The one thing that you need to ask yourself is this: Is your relationship a positive or a negative influence on your life? It sounds really simple but, really, isn't that the bottom line? Relationships should make your life richer, not more difficult.
"A way to zoom out and get the big picture of your relationship — beyond present difficulties — is to think about whether your partner has been a positive presence in your life," practicing psychologist and Harvard lecturer Holly Parker, PhD, author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?, tells Bustle. "If this relationship is probably a beneficial one, chances are you’re having struggles in the here and now with someone who, on the whole, has been good for you." It's important to sit down and think it out— even if that means doing an old-fashioned pros and cons list.
Just like every person does, every relationship will have pros and cons. Sometimes, your relationship makes your life harder because there's another person you need to factor in or someone else's needs sometimes interfere with your own. But ultimately, there should be enough good that comes from your relationship that makes it worth it.
And what if it's unclear? What if you can think of a lot of things that make your life more positive, but a lot of things that make it more difficult? Well, every relationship is different, but a good relationship should clearly make your life better. You shouldn't doubt that it's a positive influence on your life. So if you're having trouble deciding, then that should be a big red flag. A healthy relationship is a clear positive contribution to your life, even if it has some tough moments.
It's easy to sit on the fence about whether or not it's time to break up with someone, while you try to decide if the relationship is worth it. But often, the longer you stay in a relationship, the harder it is to break out of it. So it's important to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself whether, as a whole, the relationship is a positive influence on your life. If the answer is a clear "yes", then it's probably worth giving it a shot.If the answer is no, then why are you wasting your time? It's time to find someone that improves your life and makes it more rich and fulfilled — without any doubts.