Relationships are a fundamental part of our lives, providing us with love, support, and companionship. However, maintaining those relationships is by no means a simple proposition. People can grow apart, and our relationships change (by necessity) with the passing of time. The people that were right for us in one season of our lives may not be right for us in another. There may come a time where the question arises: “When is it time to break up?”
“Like some wines our love could neither mature nor travel.” – Graham Greene
What Can I Try Before Breaking Up?
Before considering the option of breaking up, it’s essential to explore various avenues to potentially salvage your relationship. Making the attempt to engage in open and honest communication can be a frightening prospect, but making the effort can go a long way in helping you make the decision either way. If you set a good example and show your partner how dedicated you are to working on the relationship, they may join you, and if not, then at least you tried.
- Rekindle Intimacy. Intimacy is at the heart of all our close relationships. But also, showing intimacy can feel like an extremely vulnerable act, especially when that intimacy has been lying dormant. By working on your intimacy, both emotional and physical, you can tap into the closeness that attracts us all to our relationships in the first place.
- Active Listening. This DBT skill can help you and your partner finally hear each other. Engaging in active listening means empathizing with the person you’re listening to and giving them your full attention. By actively listening to your partner, you can understand not only the what of what they’re saying, but also the why. Getting down to the meaning of what they are trying to say is important.
- Speaking Your Partner’s Love Language. We all have different preferences and habits when it comes to expressing affection. Love languages are a neat little tool that helps us express and receive affection in a way that is comfortable for both ourselves and our loved ones. By exploring with your partner the ways that you both prefer to give and receive affection, you can better understand the ways in which you are making efforts to be closer to one another.
- Couples Therapy. For many couples, this is really the best option. Maintaining your relationship is a skill, and oftentimes the best place to learn a skill is by consulting with an expert. By attending couples therapy together, you can learn all the skills you need to heal and grow your relationship from a bonafide expert.
What Are The Signs That It’s Time To Break Up?
So you’ve tried all that stuff. You’ve tried to re-ignite the intimacy in your relationship, attempted to listen thoroughly and empathetically to your partner, and had a conversation about the ways you each prefer to give and receive love.
- Consistent Lack Of Communication. Communication is a vital skill in keeping your relationships alive. If we can’t communicate with our partner, we won’t be able to forge a better bond together. Communication can be learned and taught, but both you and your partner must be dedicated to learning and teaching it to one another.
- Constant Argument. Arguing is exhausting. It can be exhilarating, especially early on in a relationship, to find someone who can go toe-to-toe with you in a friendly debate. But if you and your partner can only communicate in the form of a fight, then that’s something that’s worth working on, either together or with a counselor.
- No Progress. If either you or your partner has decided that the relationship is not worth working on, it is highly unlikely to change. In the event that this has happened, then the healthiest option for both of you might be letting go.
- Contempt. If your partner has contempt for you, or you have contempt for your partner, it is highly unlikely that your relationship will work out. According to the Gottman Institute, contempt is highly destructive in relationships because it means that your partner thinks that you are beneath them, or vice versa. If you and your partner don’t see each other as equals, it’s time to end the relationship.
How Do I Handle All These Feelings?
Michael Anthony is our couple’s therapist who can help you deal with the strong feelings that come up in relationships. If you are going through a breakup, or you are looking to repair your current relationship, Michael will help guide you through and provide you with the necessary tools for healing and getting in touch with your true, authentic needs and wants. Click here to schedule a consultation with our intake specialist.
Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.