Sometimes love just isn’t enough. But when your heart is still invested in a partner who turns out to be more work than play, when to let go doesn’t always seem so clear-cut.
Editor’s note: Although this article uses male pronouns, the advice applies to all sexual orientations and gender identities.
It makes so much sense that you want to hold on.
The insane attraction.
The side-splitting moments of shared laughter, even if they are few and far between…
And haven’t we all been told that relationships take work?
So if you love him, why wouldn’t you put in the work?
Yes. Relationships do take work, but there are two different kinds of work that can unfold between lovers.
One feels clear, well-intentioned, calm, and collaborative.
The other feels desperate, anxious, exhausting, and lonely.
If you’re experiencing any of the latter feelings on a consistent basis in your relationship, it’s probably because one, if not all, of the below Five Signs It’s Time to Let Go are transpiring:
1. His actions don’t line up with his words.
Nothing changes after numerous heart-to-hearts, asking for more. He says he’s hearing your needs but then continues to consistently blow off plans, or make work, his friends, and family more of a priority.
2. You aren’t on the same page about life goals.
He says he wants kids someday (or to move in together, get married, etc.), but his someday isn’t necessarily the same day as your someday. You of course have the option to get on board with his timeline, but if you’re doing it from a place of impatience and resentment, both of you will end up frustrated and miserable.
3. You’re fundamentally different people.
You don’t share the same religious beliefs. Perhaps you fight like cats and dogs about politics. One of you loves to party and the other wants to go to bed at a grandma bedtime. He likes to fly by the seat of his pants when it comes to plans, while you like to organize life months in advance. Yes, in the words of Paula Abdul, you can go together because opposites attract, but IRL, the willingness to effectively and lovingly communicate and compromise—from both partners—is key. If neither of you is budging on who you are and how you operate in general, it’s time to move on.
4. Trust has been broken.
One of you cheated or lied, and no matter how hard the other tries to rebuild trust, they either can’t or don’t want to open their hearts up fully again. Rebuilding trust is absolutely possible, but if you’re wondering what he’s really up to every time he walks out the door, you have to decide if this is the way you want to live.
5. Your biggest reason to stay is your fear of being alone.
You know you’re miserable. You know you deserve way better. But truth be told, you’ve found comfort in the discomfort of being with him, because it’s better to have someone than no one. Or perhaps you fear you’ll never find the guy who’ll treat you the way you’ve been dying for your current partner to treat you. These are terrible reasons to stay in a relationship. How can you expect to enjoy a healthy and happy partnership with anyone, when the thought of a healthy and happy partnership with just you feels scarier than staying with Mr. Wrong?
Letting go when the heart is still attached is never an easy thing.
But at the end of the day, you have to decide that the pain of the loss is worth the healing, growth, and gold on the other side of your ability to walk away from a partnership that’s hurting you way more than serving you.
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