No matter if you’ve been in a relationship for a few months or a few years, it not uncommon to come to a crossroads and wonder if you should leave the relationship, take a “break”, or start seeing other people again. Maybe the chemistry is fading, your partner’s habits and quirks are wearing on you, or you question whether you can legitimately see a long-term future together. A common time to ask this question is after the honeymoon phase in a new relationship, but this uncertainty can come up at any point, even after years together.
This decision can be one of the most pivotal in your life and dramatically change the course of your future, so it’s important to take the time to evaluate the situation from several perspectives. Here are two important considerations to make or red flags to note if you are contemplating leaving your relationship.
You are compromising your true self
If you don’t have to hold back on your dreams, needs, and desires to make the relationship work, the relationship is more sustainable. Get honest about whether you can truly be yourself and live your fullest life in the company of your partner. Do you feel comfortable letting your dreams and preferences be known, or do you sacrifice your needs and desires in an effort to keep your partner happy or not “rock the boat”? Do you feel safe showing imperfections, quirks, and vulnerabilities to your partner? Does spending time with him or her leave your feeling energized, satisfied, and connected?
These are important questions to ask as you evaluate your relationship. The more deeply rooted you are in understanding your needs, and the ability to express them, the more you will be able to be your true self in a partnership, and have your needs fully met. If you find yourself constantly asking “what does my partner want” instead of contemplating and communicating your own needs and desires, you are most likely compromising your true self, which makes a sustainable relationship unlikely.
On the other hand, if you feel you can spend time with your partner without filtering your thoughts and feelings, you most likely are being accepted for who you truly are. Being your true self and having your needs met in a supportive way is key for long-term relationship success. It’s a bonus if you and your partner have similar needs and desires too.
Overcoming this potential challenge can look like having a heart-to-heart with your partner and explaining how you feel you are compromising your true self for the relationship. Setting aside time each week to check in on this important topic could be a solution to ensure progress. If this doesn’t work, it might be time to consider whether you might be more fulfilled in a relationship that doesn't require you to sacrifice your own needs and dreams.
You don’t feel valued
This one might seem straightforward but it’s easy for you or your partner to feel less valued over time. Especially when you have been in a long-term relationship, it’s not uncommon for either party to start taking the relationship for granted, assuming that their partner will continue to show up no matter how they are treated. As individuals become more comfortable in a long-term partnership, life has a “new normal” and it’s easy to stop valuing another person’s time or contribution to the relationship. Maybe your partner has come to expect your generous acts of kindness, availability, and patience and no longer values those traits to the degree he or she did initially. Maybe you simply just don’t feel loved and appreciated.
Oftentimes, you might be responding to not feeling valued with heightened emotions. It’s hard not to take this dynamic personally. If you can step back and practice evaluating the relationship as the observer, it’s possible to have more clarity around the future potential of your partnership.
Having a conversation about how you feel valued is a great step in solving this relationship challenge. Sometimes, just understanding both the way you give and receive love can help your partner reframe the way he or she is interacting with you. Having a deeper awareness of this preferred love language can make a big difference. If you continue to feel that your time and commitment is not valued by your partner and that feeling continues to spread to other aspects of your relationship, it might be time to make a change.
At Center for Shared Insight, we know that relationships are full of tough questions. We help provide strategies for getting through these challenging milestones so you can become the best version of yourself while having a sustainable relationship. We start our therapy engagements with a free consultation. Call us to schedule yours today.