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Do You Stay or Do You Go?

I’ve never had to make the decision whether to stay in a relationship because I wasn’t sure whether my partner and I were compatible enough. What must that thought process be like? If there isn’t a glaring reason to strike out on your own — physical abuse, substance abuse, infidelity — I think the choice of going back to the single life would be much more difficult. There’s a feeling of security when you’re with someone you know so well. Especially if you’ve been with someone for a long period of time, you tend to be intertwined with that person in innumerable ways.

Even if you’ve been together for a shorter period of time, questions might arise in your mind, causing you to wonder if this person is the one you should continue spending your life with. What makes the decision harder, though, is when there are so many more good things that you like about your partner than things you wish you could change about him (we all know what happens when you have expectations of changing someone). And there’s always going to be something that you don’t like about the person you’re with, right? If you give up a relationship with someone because you don’t like certain things about them, who’s to say you won’t find personality traits that are just as undesirable in the next person you’re with?

If you really like someone, it’s tough to ask yourself: “When do the things I like about this person outweigh the things I don’t like?” And if the good times are worth fighting for, how much of the bad things are you willing to look past? Or will those bad times get easier to handle as time goes by, once you learn what to expect from the other person?

Some people like to have a little bit of volatility in their relationship. A friend of mine recently went through a mutual breakup with her long-term, on-again/off-again boyfriend. They’ve always gotten along together really well, talking things through calmly and rationally whenever there was a disagreement. But one of the things my friend mentioned as a factor in the breakup was “a lack of passion.” Not rip-your-clothes-off passion, but the fact that they got along so well, the relationship was almost too effortless. There wasn’t enough happening to stir things up.

[Read the rest of this post at BlogHer]

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10 Comments

  • Reply jessica October 1, 2007 at 11:32 am

    I’m going through this right now. my live-in boyfriend and I just called it quits after 4 years, not because either of us did anything “bad” but because we finally just admitted that we weren’t right for each other.

    It has been the hardest breakup of my life. He’s my best friend, and I’m his. We’ve built a life together, which now we are having to unravel. we both keep going back and forth on an hourly basis of whether this is the right choice for us. As we uncouple, in many ways we are closer than ever because we’re finally talking about so many of our problems.

    But in the end… I know he’s not the right guy for me.

    Sob.

  • Reply FW Sunshine October 1, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Trust your gut feelings – that’s the most important. I believe that one’s gut feelings/intuition is almost always (if not always) right – it’s just tough to learn to actually LISTEN to it.

    There are several instances where I wish I had listened to my gut and gotten out of a relationship sooner.

  • Reply Kate October 1, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    To Jessica: I did the same thing about three and a half years ago, and it’s SO the right move. I’m still friends with my ex (we were together about four years, lived together for two of them), he got married this summer and it only confirmed for me that it was the right move…I’m so glad it’s not me he’s married!

    It took us a long time to get moving on breaking up, but when we did, after the initial awfulness, it was great. He helped set me up in a new place, I helped him job hunt (he moved back East), and things just felt “right.” You’ll get there.

  • Reply Marie D. October 1, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I am one of those who leave quickly, please don’t take my opinion into account.

    Ok seriously (although this was true): the kind of guy I really really like, that attracts me like a magnet and really make my heart beat – that kind is the wrong kind for me. It’s the kind that will not fulfill my needs on the long-term, and I know I can’t be happy if my needs aren’t fulfilled. So I stay away from that kind of guy, although it has broken my heart a couple of times. I could have chosen to stay anyway but then I would have been the only one to blame for not getting what I need, and I knew I couldn’t ignore my needs for the rest of my life. There are compromises you cannot make and you’re the only one to know.
    Does that make sense?
    Now I just hope that I can find a man who will be a mix between what attracted me in those guys and what I need to have from a life-partner.
    So far, not that good, but I keep hoping.

  • Reply alyndabear October 1, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    It took me a LONG time to get out of my last serious relationship of 3.5 years (before Jase) — but I was young, I thought it was ‘the one’ and I was terrified of throwing something away, mainly for fear that there would never be anyone else for me. The bad outweighed the good though, and even though ending it was awful, I was relieved that very afternoon. Gut instincts are a good thing.

    I’ve never had to end a relationship involving moving in together and having set up a life together though, so I don’t know what/how I would cope with that.

    Yikes.

  • Reply jen October 1, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    i can also relate to jessica, because i ended a marriage that by all appearances was fine, because we just weren’t right for each other.

    i wish i had followed my instincts and ended it sooner, BEFORE we got married. but part of the problem was that i got too sucked into the idea that we SHOULD have been great together. he was my best friend and everyone said we were great together. there was outwardly no obvious reason for us to break up. in that context there’s this societal pressure to stay together. i know i felt like i was being stupid to not be happy in the relationship, and some people basically told me outright that they thought it was stupid.

    it was really hard to make that decision to throw away all the security and comfort we had together and lose my best friend, but in the end it was the best decision in the world. now we are both in relationships with people who are wonderful for us, and all four of us are great friends. i consider his girlfriend my “fake sister.” so in the end i gained so much more than i lost: i gained a soulmate (who absolutely IS right for me) and a fake sister, and turned a marriage that was making us miserable into a lifelong friendship that is a positive element in our lives.

    so hang in there jessica!

  • Reply Carmin Wharton October 2, 2007 at 1:08 am

    I agree with the posters who state that you should trust your gut. Unfortunately, I think socialization steers us away from trusting our gut (intuition).

    I believe that when a person is in love with the perfect person for them, they won’t ask “Should I stay or should I go?” Notice I said “the perfect person for them.” This is important so listen up. No human being is perfect, however, there is someone who is perfect for you and when you finally attract that person, you will know it – down in your soul.

    However, if you are emotionally unhealthy right now due to a recent break-up or other traumatic event, this is not the time to enter a relationship. To feel and trust your intuition, you must be free and clear in your spirit.

    However, if you wake up one morning and realize you are with the wrong person and you begin to ask the “Should I stay or should I go” question, don’t beat up on yourself. It is possible that this person was a good fit for you at the time you met but something has changed in one or both of you.

    Final word: If you have to ask the “Should I” question, that’s a good indication that you should consider a new direction.

    Carmin Wharton, The Relationship Teacher
    http://www.carminwharton.com
    http://www.therelationshipteacher.com

  • Reply momtheminx October 4, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    I really believe in what Grace had to say about relationship
    Don’t devote your time to his every need
    and reserve a chunk of your life for yourself,
    Its all about keeping and liking your own identity.

  • Reply Michelle October 17, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    i know that this is an old post but i popped over from elysa’s link today. love it. and it really helped me sort out what’s been rolling in my head (fresh break up and all). it made me feel a little bit better about it being over.

  • Reply cardiogirl October 19, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Such an interesting post. My sister, 49, has been divorced for about two years now. She is currently dating two men. One is great, looks good on paper, has a great job is 53 and worships her. But she wonders about their chemistry.

    The other is 34, is terrible on paper, smokes pot, has an iffy job but the chemistry is fantastic.

    She’s trying to decide if going with the 53 year-old is settling. She divorced her husband of 23 years because she felt she settled. Plain and simple. Just like you said, no compelling reason like domestic abuse, etc.

    It’s very difficult to decide if you can make it work or if you’re settling. Good luck and good post!

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