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Knowing When to Hang it up

Updated on March 22, 2013
debbiepinkston profile image

Debbie is a licensed counselor in the state of Arkansas. She lived in Venezuela and worked with a local orphanage there for many years.

Do we keep trying, or call it quits?


A Hard Decision

We have all been in bad relationships. The key is knowing whether to keep trying, or call it quits. I don't advocate divorce and this Hub is aimed at couples who are still in the dating stage. I have known couples who have stayed together even though they should have split up long before, and they did each other tremendous damage in the process.

I remind couples that I counsel that if something bothers them a "little" while dating, most likely it will bother them "a lot" later on. People don't magically change when they get married. If you have some uncomfortable doubts, take your time and don't rush into anything.

Ask yourself what bothers you the most and what you like about the relationship. Take a sheet of paper and make two lists: The "pros" and "cons", and then consider which column is the heaviest. You may find that there are many great reasons to stay in the relationship, or you may find that what you enjoy is very slim compared to what makes you suffer and causes you anxiety. If that's the case, it may be time to end it.

You may have had a lot in common with your partner initially, but sometimes people grow apart or grow in separate directions. If your relationship started when you were young and several years have gone by, you have probably changed. There's nothing wrong with change and it's alright to part ways when you realize you're on completely different paths.

Is conflict an everyday occurrence and do you fight over everything? If so, have you sought counseling? A trained counselor can help couples learn to communicate their feelings and needs, forgive past offenses and strengthen the relationship.

Relationships are only as good as the mutual needs that are met. What are your needs? What are your partner's needs? Is the relationship lopsided, with one partner getting much more than he/she gives? Do you need to renegotiate your relationship? A counselor can be helpful in negotiating what each person needs from the other.

Unfaithfulness is a hard one to deal with. If an affair has occurred once, it may be possible to forgive, heal, rebuild trust, learn from the experience and be stronger as a couple. If one partner is chronically unfaithful though, it's probably time to move on.

Ask yourself if the relationship is abusive. Sometimes abuse is obvious, such as physical abuse. If you are in this situation you should protect yourself by leaving. It is not an easy thing to do but your life may be at risk. Other forms of abuse may not be as obvious, such as emotional or verbal abuse. Does your partner belittle you or criticize you constantly? Do you feel inferior to your partner because of the way he or she treats you? Sexual abuse is one that can be obvious but can also be covert-do you feel that you have to do things you don't want to do? Are your feelings disregarded? Does your opinion count in the bedroom?

Is there an addiction in the middle of the relationship? If so, no matter what you do there may no way to save this relationship. Addictions take over and soon there is no space for you. If your partner had to choose you or the substance, he would probably choose the substance. A sad but true fact, unless he/she is in true recovery.

Some relationships hit rough spots and every couple has disagreements. When you enjoy being together most of the time, the disagreements can be worked out with caring and good communication skills. Seek to understand each others' point of view, and make a point to talk things through as they come up. If there are plenty of positives in the relationship and a few negatives, it's worth trying to work those things out.

Relationships serve different purposes at different times, and sometimes it has just run its course. We learned what we needed to learn, we enjoyed our time together, but if things start to go sour and nothing seems to get them back on track, it's best to walk away before too much damage is done.

Remember that if a relationship doesn't work out, there's nothing wrong with you and nothing wrong with the other person (well, maybe there is...) but relationships are not all destined to last "forever". Thank God that some of my past relationships didn't pan out! I wouldn't be married to the wonderful man I'm with today. If your relationship is over, don't feel bad about yourself, learn what you need to learn from it, and keep your eyes wide open! You never know what the future holds.

Breakin' Up Is Hard To Do


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    • debbiepinkston profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Pinkston 

      5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Very true! We should give it our all and if that isn't enough, then it isn't enough and it's time to move on.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      Great advice, Debbie. This will help someone to make a good decision. I always encourage people to give it all you got first, before abandoning the ship.

    • debbiepinkston profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Pinkston 

      5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Hi Ruby! Thank you, yes I think there aren't many people who haven't been in that situation, wondering if it's worth it and what to do next. So many people feel like failures when a relationship doesn't work out, but in all honesty, if those relationships had continued it would have been disastrous!

      Thank you for adding to the discussion!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Great article. I think we have all been down that road at least once in our life. You point out some very good solutions and actions.Thank you for sharing..

    • debbiepinkston profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Pinkston 

      5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas


      Sometimes I think the right decision was made in the beginning, based on where we were at at that point in our lives, but one person changes or simply begins to show their "true colors". Sometimes a very nice, balanced person can become mentally ill or develop an addiction, or some other major change. So the decision may have been right at the time, but not right in the long run.

      I agree so much with what you said about opposites attract in the short run but that's probably not what we need in the long run. I think when we're young we tend to choose opposites, but as we mature we find ourselves attracted to relationships with people who have like values and goals in life.

      Thank you for commenting and enlarging the conversation!

    • debbiepinkston profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Pinkston 

      5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Bill, I agree and sometimes we do ourselves so much harm by trying to "make it work" when nothing is going to help. There are many situations where one partner really would like to bail and the other tries to keep it afloat. Sometimes we have to admit to ourselves that it's not going to work and get out. It's a hard thing to do when we feel that we have invested so much of ourselves in the relationship.

      Thank you for adding to the discussion!

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      5 years ago

      When one or both people in the relationship comes to the realization that they do not want the same things. There is not much point in staying together. A divorce/breakup is nothing more than an admission that a "mistake" was made in the mate selection process. "No amount of (work) or (communication) can overcome being with someone who does not want what you want."

      Opposites may attract in the short run but it's like that attracts like in the long run. Couples that (naturally agree) on the important things in life, share the same values, and have the same relationship goals tend to be happier and stay together. Who knew?! :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very good analysis, and the final summary was great. I'm not a believer in going down with a sinking ship simply because you bought the round trip ticket, if you know what I mean. :)


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