When is it right to walk away from a relationship? I once had a new client come into my office, she was a pretty, older woman, who just sank in the chair in front of me saying “I am now on my way to my fourth divorce and there is one constant in this – and it is me.”
So many people leave relationships without having really looked at their part in the conflicts or tried to understand more about what it takes to have a consciously loving relationship.
On the other hand, there are many people who stay in relationships that should have ended long ago: One very caring woman, really invested in doing the right thing and not just the easy one, had been married for 34 years to a man who was a narcissist and was staying with him because she wanted to learn unconditional love. She told me she had fallen in ‘love’ with him in the beginning because she was insecure and she had needed him to make her feel good about herself, but now she had overcome that.
But when does one know when to leave?
There are so many ways to look at this question, but one of the simplest and most direct approach for me, is to ponder the following statement:
“The aim of a relationship is not to make us happy, or miserable: the aim of a relationship is to teach us how to love, because when we love, we feel happy.”
This concept was very transformative for me; it took away the child-like ideal of a relationship that looks at getting someone to make us feel happy, which can never work, and got me to wake up to a more mature, more giving and fulfilling way of looking at relationships.
But the question remains “ When does one know if it’s time to leave a relationship?” One of the best ways I have found of defining love is that love is ‘wanting the best for another being while respecting our needs” and by needs I mean the needs of fulfilling the voice within, not our emotions but our hearts. If after having done our inner work, faced how we participated in the dynamics, taken couples counseling and done our best to make the relationship work and got to the point where we are grateful for the experience but still feel like the connection is just not there anymore, then it is time to leave. Leave because we know we are worthy of love. We are worthy of getting what our heart desires and not staying because we are afraid that we will never find someone to love us.
To help you figure out if you are staying out of fear or out of love for yourself, I recommend that you download my Best Friend Journal and use it for 30 days to become clear on the reasons you are in your relationship. Click here to download.