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When Is A Relationship Really Over?

Updated on April 1, 2011

When is enough enough?  When is a relationship over?  Really over?  It is different things to different people, certainly, but I believe one thing for sure:  a relationship is over when neither partner feels it is worth it to work on things any longer.  

Even though in the movies it always seems like both partners are always equally invested in a relationship, often, if not most of the time, one person is more into it than the other.  This can shift back and forth throughout the life of the relationship.  So there might be times when one partner is actively making an effort and the other is letting things slide on their end.  If both are letting things slide, I don’t think that necessarily means things are over, but it is a danger zone.  If no one is steering a boat, it will still sail for a while, but it will eventually go off course.  If neither co-captain is willing to turn it around, it will likely stay off course indefinitely or just into a rock.  Such are relationships.

What do people do in relationships that put them off course to begin with?  Probably the biggest one is stop listening to what their partner wants.  Some things may seem little, but over time if you ask your husband every single day to take out the trash and he never does, it becomes less about the trash and more about you not being heard by him.  Or worse, you might feel as though he did hear you - he knows you want him to take out the trash - yet he consciously or unconsciously chooses not to please you by doing it.  That’s a problem.  If you ask your wife to wear something sexy to bed, and she doesn’t, it’s very easy to deduce that she’s not interested in you sexually.  Ouch!  

Certain things should be instant relationship enders.  The main one is violence.  If a man hits a woman, EVEN ONCE, she needs to get the hell out of there.  It’s never just once.  He will hit her again.  And again.  The bottom line is, most men can overpower most women, so it’s not a fair fight - but even if it were, who wants a physically violent relationship?

Most other relationship enders are subjective.  Many people feel that infidelity is one; others may feel that way about drug use or alcohol abuse.  But it’s not so easy to just draw a line in the sand and say “Boh-Bye”.  You most likely will still love the person, even if they’ve done something very disappointing.  So you have to decide if the problem is fixable.  Sometimes leaving someone until they get their addiction treated can help - it can force someone into action.  Infidelity may not be as easy to deal with, because there is a very deep level of trust that has been broken.  There are also issues of jealousy and betrayal.  It is possible to repair the relationship after one partner has cheated, but it will take a very long time to do so.

In the end, a relationship is always work.  No matter how great it is.  If you feel like you’d rather have each other around and do the work, you’ll keep going;  if you decide, however, that it’s just not worth the effort, especially if the feeling is mutual, your relationship’s days are numbered.


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    • rhondakim profile image

      rhondakim 4 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Joseph Muendo!!!

    • Joseph Muendo profile image

      Joseph Muendo 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Well said!

    • rhondakim profile image

      rhondakim 5 years ago from New York City

      Yes, I believe that's true, Ryan-Palmsy!

    • Ryan-Palmsy profile image

      Ryan Palmer 5 years ago from In a Galaxy far, far away

      Interesting hub and I agree with the points! And there are a lot of relationships that simply don't end simply because neither party wants to be "the bad guy" or neither party wants to be alone.

    • profile image

      Just wondering 6 years ago

      Have you ever been cheated on? More importantly, have you ever been the cheater??? Have you been TOTALLY honest with your significant other about it??? If so, or if not, why should your significant other ever trust you? How can the relationship EVER be the same?