Getting in and out of relationships is easy at times, and hard at times. Setting limits in relationships can be harder than either, when it comes to someone that you really care about. I have said often that people who love each other divorce every day, and I truly believe that. I have been in relationships where I really cared about the other person, but I knew that it would never work. If we had tried to commit to each other, it would have fallen apart, and I had to let go. When relationships don’t work, for whatever reason, it doesn’t have to mean that there isn’t love.
Over the years, I have worked with many people struggling in relationships. There are times when the relationship that isn’t working is a marriage, and there are relationships that don’t work but it’s family. It can also be a friendship that turns bad and needs to end. No matter what the relationship, when you figure out that you need to get out, it is never as easy as it sounds. The first thing to think about is your options. In in immortal words of Simon and Garfunkel (I know, it dates me), “there must be 50 ways to leave your lover”.
First, evaluate your safety. Can you leave and be safe at the same time? We have talked about domestic violence before, but it’s important to think about it again relative to your safety. Do you need to prepare financially? What do you need to do to begin to cut ties? Things like changing your number and only giving you number to people you know you can trust could be important. Getting help and letting people around you know that there is a problem also becomes important. Depending on the type of relationship that you are getting out of, its important to understand what you are dealing with, and to plan for anything.
I have worked with patients over the years struggling to leave marriages, toxic parents, and friends who take advantage of them. It’s hard to think of leaving relationships that mean something, and still include a genuine caring for the other person. The thought of being alone is scary, and although people make decisions to leave or stay for all different reasons, you need to know why you are making the decision. If you choose to stay, understand how to set boundaries and keep yourself safe, in every way (financially, physically and otherwise). If you choose to leave, and sever the relationship, understand those related boundaries. There are no magic answers, but getting out of a bad relationship can mean the difference between quality of life, and a future of pain.
Relationships should be mutual, respectful, supportive, and interactive. They shouldn’t include demands, verbal arguments, abusive behavior, or one way support. If you love someone, you need to evaluate what the relationship means to you, and how you want to proceed. If you stay, know why you stay, as long as it’s your choice and not due to fear for your life or your wellbeing. If you leave, know why you are leaving, and have a plan around where you will go. You can leave if that’s what’s best for you or stay. Get help if you need it. It’s all part of being happy for life.