Sometimes giving up on your relationship is the best thing you can do. Here’s how to know when to give up on a relationship instead of trying to make it work – these tips are inspired by a reader who asked for help deciding if she should stay or go.
Deal Breakers: When to Work On a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Dr. Bethany Marshall is an excellent resource for women trying to decide if they should give up on a relationship.
Here’s what one of my readers says: “I found out that my boyfriend had been cheating on me with another girl for 8 months. I decided to forgive him and stay, to give him a chance to work this relationship out because I know it’s worth it. But I’ve been very physically and emotionally insecure after since. He claims he’s over her. But he’s been listening to sad songs, and saying his friends were trying to patch things up between them. He doesn’t let me take look at his phone, and says I’ll get paranoid if he tells me who he’s hanging out with. I have no idea what I should do. Please help.” – on Can Trust Your Boyfriend After He Cheated?
The most important sign that it’s better to give up on your relationship is your own gut feeling…and I think Michelle’s gut is telling her that she can’t make it work with him because he isn’t meeting her halfway. She has good reason not to trust him – he’s giving her reasons not to trust him!
It’s Better to Give Up on Your Relationship When…
You and your partner have different life goals
One of my guy friends wants to have children – he’s 39, and feeling like it’s now or never. But, his 37 year old girlfriend doesn’t want kids. They’ve broken up and gotten back together several times because he wants kids and she doesn’t…and they keep trying to work things out. Neither one will budge on their life goals, but they love each other too much to split up.
If he doesn’t want to give up on this relationship, then he needs to make peace with never having children. It really is as simple as that.
You keep hoping things will get better – but they never do
One my article about the cycle of abuse, a reader said she knows deep down that she should give up on her relationship, but she keeps hoping things will improve. Many women (and men!) stay in loveless marriages or unhealthy relationships for years or even decades, hoping things will get better.
If you’ve been unhappy for more than a few months, then it’s better to give up on your relationship.
Your partner doesn’t care about trying to work things out
Do you feel alone in your relationship? Does it seem like your partner doesn’t love or respect you – much less want to work on your relationship? Are you the only one who wants to learn how to fix your relationship? That’s another common complain women have about their partners: they just don’t seem to care enough to say “I love you”, much less build a strong, healthy relationship.
If your partner doesn’t want to do his part in working things out, then you need to give up. You can’t create a healthy relationship all by yourself.
If you don’t think you can survive without him, read You’re Scared to Be Alone, But Know You Need to End Your Relationship.
Your gut knows what’s best
Why is it crucial to listen to your gut when you’re trying to decide if you should give up or make your relationship work? Because your gut is picking up on signs and signals that your conscious mind isn’t aware of. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking does an excellent job describing how our subconscious picks up on external cues and clues. That’s how your gut works: it picks up on things in the environment you’re not even aware of.
In Michelle’s case, I believe she’s picking up on signals from her boyfriend that show who he really is. I don’t think she can trust a guy who cheated on her for eight months – and her gut is telling her the same thing. But it’s not her insecurities that are telling her she should give up on this relationship. It’s him. Her boyfriend is telling her he’s doesn’t want to try to make it work (he’s hanging out with friends of the girl he cheated on, he isn’t showing Michelle his phone, and he’s accusing her of being paranoid and insecure). Sometimes you have to listen to your gut about when to give up on a relationship.
Deciding whether you should give up or make it work can take a long time – it’s a big decision. In the meantime, read 10 Tips for Building a Life Outside Your Relationship.
What do you think – is it better to give up on your relationship, or try to make it work? I welcome your comments below. I can’t tell you when you should give up on a relationship, but you might find your own answers by writing about them below.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.