“Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble.
And if I stay there will be double.
So come on and let me know,
Should I stay or should I go?”
Ok, so maybe I’m the only one who enjoys geeking out on 80’s song lyrics, but The Clash does raise an important question!
In fact, I would say that deciding to stay or end a relationship ( in some form) is one of the main reasons people come to work with me. And for good reason- love can be one of the trickiest areas to navigate.
I always tell my clients that I have no idea what is right for them, and that, barring abuse, I have no opinion about them continuing or terminating things. What we often do is take a closer look at what might be motivating their choice to do either.
So today, I’m going to offer you some points to consider if you find yourself in the very painful place of indecision.
- Are you happy? I know. It seems so simplistic, but we forget to factor this into the equation. We can make all kinds of excuses and justify the other person’s behavior till the cows come home. We can explain away our misery by convincing ourselves that we “should” want this relationship because it looks good on paper. But does this other person bring value and joy to our lives? Do we feel like a better version of ourselves with them, or that we want to be? Partnerships are supposed to enrich and nourish us, not leave us feeling drained and depleted.
- Is there an ease to the relationship? This does not mean that relationships do not require tending. Of course they do. And there is a world of difference between having two people who are deeply committed to growing together, and us single- handedly doing all the heavy lifting. When both people want to take on the responsibility for the quality of the relationship, the tough times can seem more managable because we know they are right there with us slogging through the mud.
- Do you share common values? It’s so easy to get involved with someone because they look good, or the sex is amazing, etc. But if we don’t look underneath that, more than likely we will be miserable once the initial attraction and chemistry fade. For example, if one of our values is personal growth and we are with a person who has no interest in introspection or evolution, we will ( likely) feel frustrated and resentful over time. For some people it may be enough for their partner to simply support their endeavor in this realm; others want their mate to participate with them. Which brings me to my next point…
- Do you know what you want? Let’s face it. Being single in this society is akin to having a horrible disease. It’s no wonder that most people want to partner up. Yet, many of us are so desperate for companionship what we are willing to take whoever comes our way, without first getting clear about our own vision of relationship. This is like trying to get to our final destination without a map or guide. It’s not we can’t get there eventually; it’s just that we will save ourselves endless heartache and frustration if we take the more direct route. Here are three questions to get us pointed in the right direction: 1) What do you most desire to receive from a partner? 2) What do you most desire to contribute to a partner, and 3) what do you want your partnership to offer the world? Once we can define this for ourselves, we are in a much better position to decide if we should bail or hang out.
- Ask your friends! Yea, I know. So much of the work that I do is about helping people trust their own intuition and knowing. This is still true. And I don’t know anyone who does not have particular blindspots when it comes to love. So check in with people you trust to be honest with you. Do they like the person you are seeing?. Do they think you are being treated well? Are you happy and relaxed with this person, or have they noticed you withdrawing or seeming less like yourself since you’ve been together? Ultimately, of course, the decision is ours. But having reflections from others who love you can be a powerful mirror to the impact the relationship is having on us, positive or not.
There’s one final caveat I’d like to add. We don’t ever have to take action until we are ready. There is a belief that once we know things are over, we need to move on it NOW!
Frankly. I believe that is one of the reasons we are afraid to be honest with ourselves about staying or going. I have known most of my relationships were going to end long before they actually did. And the time between was not wasted. It was a time of gathering- strength, resources, courage, support. Something was being worked out in me ( and maybe the other person too) in the interim. And when it was time, it was time. And I trust that the same will be true for you if your choice is to go.
I’m certain I have not thought of everything to consider when deciding to stay or go. I’d love to know how you have made your choice in the comments!