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Is it Time to Break Up? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

By Chelsea Badeau, Comcast.net Relationships Editor

April 15, 2005

How do you know when it's time to move on?

In my last article, '7 Steps to Rebuild Lost Trust,' I outlined the necessary steps to re-establish trust once a breach has occurred. As a result of that advice, I received many emails asking when you should try to trust again and when you should just cut your losses, call it a day, and get out of the relationship.

While there are many situations where trust can be successfully rebuilt and relationships salvaged, there are other circumstances where romantic reparations should not be attempted. Recognizing an unhealthy relationship is not always easy when you are in the midst of it. Many people are 'blinded' to the unpleasant reality and are unable to--or are afraid to--admit that they are in a dead-end situation.

Here are ten questions to ask yourself that may aid in determining whether your relationship is worth saving. This is not an exhaustive list, but if you can answer yes to one or more of the following questions, it may be time to move on.

1. Does your mate disrespect you?

Does he or she make you feel bad about yourself? Do you feel emotionally drained on a regular basis?

A positive relationship should not leave you feeling exhausted and depleted. If your mate feels the need to constantly put you down or embarrass you in front of others for no apparent reason, then he or she is probably insecure. Your mate may think that he or she is not good enough for you and insulting you is a method of trying to bring you down to his or her level. I knew a woman whose boyfriend was always making jokes about her weight. She tried to laugh it off, but it was obvious that his "humor" did not amuse her.

There is no excuse for someone intentionally belittling the person they claim to love. Mental abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse. If you have tried to bring this up with your mate and the only response you get is more insults; it's time to find someone who will build you up instead of tear you down.

2. Is your mate controlling or excessively jealous?

Does your mate want to know your every waking move? Does he or she get jealous or angry over innocent situations?

There are many reasons why your mate may feel the need to exert control over you. Here are the three most common scenarios: your mate sees you as an object or a possession rather than an equal, your mate is insecure due to betrayals in previous relationships, or your mate is being deceptive and is attempting to cover it up or make up for the guilt by accusing you of wrong-doing. This type of behavior can also be a characteristic of your mate's personality. This is the worst situation, because there is virtually no hope for rectifying the situation if this is the case.

If you have not given your mate any reason to doubt your word, and he or she is still unable to trust anything you say or do, attempt to uncover your mate's rationale for behaving in this manner. If your mate does not realize how possessive he or she has been acting, give your mate a chance to change. If after a month, you still can't walk to the mailbox without your mate questioning where you have been, it's time to say, "Can I get a minute to breathe?" And in that minute you leave.

3. Is your mate physically abusive?

This one is pretty straight-forward: if you get hit, it's time to quit. I know that it's not always easy to leave an abusive partner, but you have to find a way to get out. It's not only detrimental to a successful relationship; it's dangerous to your well-being.

If you need help, but don't know where to turn, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or visit their website at ndvh.org.

4. Is your mate completely different from the person you fell in love with?

Do you often wonder, "What the heck happened to that sweet, caring person I first met?"

Everyone will, and should, change to a certain extent over the course of a long-term relationship. But there are some people who put on a facade in the early stages of dating to woo potential partners and then after they get comfortable in a relationship, their true colors come out. Maybe that attentive person you knew and loved doesn't listen to a word you say anymore.

If your mate has made a 180-degree turnaround, drop the chameleon and get with someone who is real right from the start.

5. Do you and your mate have completely different life goals?

While it's true that opposites attract, what initially turned you on to someone may be what eventually turns you off. You may come to realize that your beliefs, attitudes, interests, or values simply do not mesh.

A friend of mine began dating her boyfriend when they were both in high school. After graduation, she went on to college and he worked at a restaurant. Four years later, she had a career and he was still living the carefree lifestyle of a late-night waiter. She realized that attending college had given her a different outlook and maturity that he did not have. They slowly drifted apart after it became apparent that they had little left in common.

Maybe you thought it was interesting that your mate had a religion he or she created and now you just think it's odd. Perhaps your mate's desire to become an animal rights activist deeply conflicts with your career as a fur coat salesperson. Or it could be that your mate has been offered a job across the country and you do not want to move.

If you and your mate aren't traveling on the same road it's hard to meet up at the same place. Make a u-turn and find someone who is going your way.

6. Does your mate fear commitment?

Have you been with your mate for years and yet the slightest mention of furthering the relationship makes him or her go into panic mode?

I know many women say all guys have a commitment phobia, but I know some women who are also afraid to take the next step. Sometimes, it's just a matter of timing and then there are relationships where all the time in the world won't change a thing.

A friend of mine was dating the same girl for seven years and he proposed to her three times (yes, three times!!!) and she kept putting him off, telling him she wasn't ready. Unfortunately for him, he can't seem to let go of the fruitless love affair, and continues to wait for her to decide she's "ready."

I'm sorry, but if your mate doesn't know if he or she wants to commit to you after years of being in a relationship, then he or she probably isn't your soul mate. If you are in a situation like this, stop wasting your time and find someone who wants the kind of relationship you are seeking.

7. Is there a complete loss of interest or attraction?

Are you bored with your mate? Do you think of your mate more as an old friend than a lover?

If you look at your mate and not even so much as a spark of a spark flies, the fire in your relationship may have died. There are ways to re-ignite the flame. Try to add romance back into your relationship. Check out 'Endless Love?-- A Dozen Tried and True Tips for Keeping the Flame Alive.'

If you have tried everything and you still can't spice up your relationship, it is probably best to end it on a positive note so that you can remain friends.

8. Does your mate have a track record of cheating?

Has your mate broken your trust over and over again? Does your mate cheat, apologize, get back on your good side, and then stray again?

In my previous article, I talked about learning to trust again after someone has cheated. However, this trust can only be rebuilt if the person who committed the betrayal is truly remorseful for their actions and the pain it caused. He or she must be ready to make a change and not make the same mistake again.

Don't become a doormat for your mate to walk all over. Some people cannot, or should I say will not, ever be faithful. Do not keep believing empty promises. If you have forgiven your mate before and transgressions continue to occur; move on to someone who can be committed.

9. Are you in a long-distance relationship with no end in sight?

Long-distance love is hard enough, but if neither one of you ever plans on re-locating to be with the other, it may be time to sever your ties. A romantic relationship needs physical interaction to thrive over time. There can be long-distance success for increments of time, but not forever.

So unless one of you plans on moving sometime in the near future, it may be best to look for someone within your local vicinity, so that you can actually go on dates and enjoy other life experiences together.

10. Love...what's that?

Make a list of the reasons you want to stay in the relationship. If that list is void of the word love, you are selling yourself short. Maybe all of your friends and family love your mate and you feel pressured to stay in the relationship even though you really want out.

Don't stay with your mate for the sake of anyone else--not your parents, not your friends, and not even your kids. This is the only life you get; don't waste it with someone you don't love.

I strongly believe in preserving the family and trying your best to make a marriage work.? So, in the case of marriage, question #3 is the only definite circumstance for seeking a divorce.

If you are not married and you answered yes to?one or more?of the above questions, most likely it is time to move on. But, before you make any hasty decisions, make sure that you carefully consider if you have given your relationship a fair chance.

Next Article: How to Break-Up Gracefully

Chelsea Badeau can be reached at chelscorner@comcast.net .

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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