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Getting Out of a Bad Relationship: Knowing When It's Time to Leave

Updated on October 10, 2016
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Sadie Holloway is a workshop facilitator who teaches interpersonal communication skills to help people strengthen their relationships.

How do you know when it's time to leave a bad relationship and move on? Learn how identify a bad relationship and take steps to protect your emotional and physical health and well-being.

Giving each other the silent treatment on a regular basis isn't healthy.
Giving each other the silent treatment on a regular basis isn't healthy. | Source

No matter how difficult things are in your relationship, it takes courage to leave your spouse and move on. Not all relationships end because they are unhealthy, abusive, or destructive. Some relationships end amicably when the two people agree that their lives would be much more fulfilled if they were apart.

Even if you know, deep in your heart, that you are in a bad relationship, letting go and moving on isn’t always easy. Not only are there practical issues to sort out when you decide that it’s time to leave (i.e.; Where will you live?), there are complicated emotional issues to sort out. Even if your relationship with your partner made you feel sad and lonely most of the time, ending a relationship with someone you once cared about can still be hard.

Before reviewing this list of reasons to end a relationship, ask yourself if you're in any physical danger from your partner. If you are being battered, abused, or sexually assaulted, you need no other reason to leave a relationship. Violence and abuse are never, ever part of a loving relationship. If you need immediate crisis support and intervention, contact an emergency hotline, a women's shelter, or the police.

If you know that you need to end the relationship, but are afraid to do so because you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, don't be afraid to contact a crisis center, medical center, or healthcare provider and reach out for support. Even if you're not sure you're ready to leave, there are community resources that can help you and your children. Sometimes just talking to a qualified, compassionate support worker or counsellor can help you make sense of some of the difficult and confusing emotions you may be feeling.

The following links may be useful if have questions about domestic violence and/or need immediate crisis support. (Please note that these organizations are based in North America, however, they may be able to offer referrals or information about resources for people in other countries.)

Even if your partner has never assaulted you or deliberately harmed you, threats of violence are strong indicators that your partner will actually commit an act of violence against you in the future, no matter how often he apologizes for his behavior. The domestic violence links and resources in this article help to illustrate where threatening behavior sits on a continuum of violence. Don't be ashamed to seek support before things escalate.

You are the only one who can decide if you are ready to break free from a bad relationship,
You are the only one who can decide if you are ready to break free from a bad relationship,

If you think it's time to leave your partner because he is abusive, the video below features some tips on how to increase your safety when you decide it's time to leave a bad relationship.

What concerns you the most about ending a bad relationship?

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If you are not in immediate danger, but still feel unsure about whether your relationship is healthy or not, here are some common reasons many people choose to let go of a bad relationship.

Your health is being affected by the stress and strain caused by the conflict and tension in your marriage or intimate partnership. Intimate love relationships and marriage should enhance your health, not undermine it. You will be living in your mind and body for the rest of your life. You deserve to take care of yourself and protect your health and well-being.

You suspect or know that your partner is cheating on you. While it is possible to reconcile after an affair, it may not be possible for every couple. For some people, the feeling of betrayal after a partner has cheated can be insurmountable. It is up to you to decide for yourself if the relationship is worth saving.

You feel like you can’t assert yourself, speak your mind, or simply say ‘No.’ Being able to disagree with your partner or spouse is a normal part of a healthy relationship. If the two of you can't talk about difficult issues without

You’ve lost touch with who you are. Your interests, beliefs, and values have become overshadowed or even fully consumed, by your partner’s beliefs and life priorities. It's not healthy to give up on the things that you enjoy doing to please your partner. Respectful, healthy marriages and partnerships allow each of partner to celebrate their strengths and pursue their passions. If you don't feel like your goals are being taken seriously by the person who claims to love you, then that might be a good reason to consider letting go and moving on.

This list of reasons to end a relationship may not cover all of the things you are feeling right now. Perhaps only a few of these things ring true for you. Perhaps your list of reasons is much longer than this. The most important thing to remember is that your feelings and emotions are valid. You are the expert of your own experiences. Give yourself permission to trust your gut instincts.

You may feel lonely when you end your relationship, but you'll also have more time and freedom to do what you want, when you want.
You may feel lonely when you end your relationship, but you'll also have more time and freedom to do what you want, when you want.

© 2014 Sadie Holloway

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