At the beginning of a new year we often think about what to continue and what to quit. Some things are no-brainers: too much drinking, smoking, and eating are bad for your health, so it would be good to quit. But others are more complicated. How do you know when to quit a relationship? It’s not like you’re going to feel proud of yourself when you wind up feeling alone, guilty, and needy because you left your former partner…
It takes a lot of courage to make a major decision like that. And usually this starts with the courage to do a serious reality check. How well is this relationship working, for both of you? How hard have you tried to make it better? Are you taking responsibility for yourself, or just blaming her for your unhappiness? Or are you swallowing a lot of your own feelings to avoid rocking the boat?
Often women talk about long, slow declines in emotional and physical intimacy, wondering for years if they should stay or go. And this can go on indefinitely–unless, as often happens, a new woman arrives on the scene. Then there’s the excitement about possibilities, a reminder of attractive alternatives. Of course, this seems unfaithful and shallow–but it is human nature, for better or worse.
It’s hard to be alone, and it takes a lot of courage to face this without the added bonus of a new girlfriend. But courage is something we all have, and can grow more. There are many small, courageous steps that will help you make a good decision about leaving or staying. You can talk to your partner about your unfulfilled dreams–or you can tell your friends, or your therapist. You can do more of what you enjoy, and build on strengths your already know you have. You can broaden your social networks and learn more about living as an individual, not just as a partnered person.
It’s a process, figuring out what expands your life and deepens your loving relationships. And it always starts with claiming your courage.