There’s no such thing as a relationship without challenges. However, some stumbling blocks are merely garden-variety annoyances, while others are bona fide deal-breakers. Here is a Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can — and Should — Be Saved.
1. Consider how you and your partner resolve conflicts
In an unhealthy relationship (i.e., one that really isn’t working), when you hit those periods of conflict, you’ll notice either right away or soon enough that you are not a team struggling for mutual well-being. Unsure about whether you and your partner are have an unhealthy conflict resolution approach? When you argue, does it become about who can win and/or who can hurt the other more effectively, or does one (or both) of you become explosive or cruel? Is it characterized by your partner thinking almost exclusively about what is good for him or her, not about what’s good for you or the relationship? If any of these statements ring true for you, it’s probably a wise decision to get out.
2. Recognize the difference between irritating habits and deal-breakers
Some of the most troubling and potentially deal-breaking problems one can face with a partner are immaturity, addiction, unresolved or untreated mental health issues (including the after-effects of trauma, depression and personality disorders) and abusiveness. Each one of these is a big ticket item, meaning it will likely cost you a great deal of emotional energy and time to be in a relationship with your partner and one of these issues. You may decide that, no matter how much you love your partner, you don’t want to put so much energy into dealing with anything so consuming.
3. Think about the consequences of ending the relationship
When debating whether to leave or stay, first considering whether you’ve ever felt frightened of your partner. Has this person ever physically attacked you, or made you feel that he or she was on the verge of it? Has your partner ever forced you sexually? Has your partner said anything like, “You’d better not ever try to leave me” or anything similar that suggested he or she wanted you to be afraid of ending things? If your intuition tells you that your partner may have a volatile reaction, that’s a pretty good sign that walking away from your relationship is a good idea.
4. Imagine a life without your partner
When you’re trying to decide whether staying in your relationship will be truly beneficial or not, ask yourself if you have remained true to who you really are during the time you’ve been with your partner, and what your life would look like if you were no longer together. Remember that having love, approval, kindness and appreciation for yourself is at least as important as getting it from someone else; if these feelings are impossible to have while in your current relationship, it’s time to get back into having a loving, supportive connection with yourself.