Carly is an artist and therapist who likes to write content that helps others live mindfully.
A Relationship Exit Strategy Guide
For a while, you have heard a calling from deep within. There is a knowing that begins as a nudge. Something within needs a change.
The current relationship is no longer working for you and probably has not for a long time. The journey for change starts long before the actual first step. It comes from a calling from a deeper crevasse of the heart.
There are three choices laid out in front of you:
- The choice to bring change to your relationship and your partner to make it work
- The choice to continue as it always was, hoping change would just happen
- The choice to end the relationship and move on
Make the Relationship Work
For most who are in a relationship that is no longer working, the first step that is to find a way to make it work. The energy in the relationship goes into how we can fix what is broken.
Some relationships have abusive components, addiction, neglect, and co-dependency. There is a belief that love will prevail. Love can change negative aspects, even change abusive combinations.
Sometimes there is a memory or history when the relationship did work. The building blocks of the beginning of the relationship were once strong and full of passion. Time and life brought destructive forces that may have pulled out characteristics of a lover that were not there before.
There may be a period where you wait for your partner to go back to the person you first met. The waiting is now wearing you down, and the hope is dwindling. Will this person ever fully engage with you again the way things used to be? To make it worse, you may see glimpses of the positive attributes that made you fall in love with them.
The reconnaissance lingers like a piece of cheese dangling from a string. Close enough to grab but always out of reach. The positive change just never seems consistent.
The longing of wanting to move your partner to re-establish any resemblance of a healthier relationship is noble and often mirrored in our pop culture. So you make a plan, determined to make it work—if he would only change in these ways, and I change in these other ways, we can manifest the relationship I always knew was there.
What if he continues to deny your suggestions?
What if he says all he wants is you and that you too can work it out?
What if he says, yes, yes, yes, to all your suggestions but does not follow through the next day, week, or month?
When to Leave
You are not happy and have not been happy for a long time.
Joy is no longer there.
You no longer communicate to each other.
Communication consists of yelling.
You no longer spend time together.
You want to spend your time with other people or doing other things away form your partner.
You think about leaving the relationship.
You spend parts of your day daydreaming of being with someone else or being by yourself.
You feel Spent
You do all the giving, and you do not get much in return.
Relationships need a balance.
You try to change yourself or your partner to make it work.
Your partner has changed into someone you no longer recognize.
Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is not ok.
You no longer want to be a victim.
Leaving an Abusive Relationship
Sometimes, when we want an abusive relationship to work, we give up or disown parts of ourselves. I feel the crux of abusive relationship pain and suffering is ultimately losing ourselves. Our dignity is diminished because of someone else's limitations and destructive behaviors.
Who we were before the relationship happened seemed to disappear rapidly like a phantom. We turn to try to find her again, but the debris of the current dysfunctional relationship is so thick, we can only seem to find remnants of who we were in the ruins.
So we try to pull our partner with us back to where we lost ourselves and before the abuse began. Taking giant steps back down the path, hoping she will still be there before the line of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse started.
The hope is to integrate what is the best of our abusive partner with the self we once were in order to move forward together and leave behind the abuse. The truth is, the journey back does not work. There needs to be a journey to move forward.
The Path of Continuing as It Always Was, Hoping Change Will Just Happen
Many put hope and prayer into making the relationship change. For who would leave their lover behind, and why, especially when this is love? So we do everything we can and muster up all the strength we can scrounge, even if that means having little to no contact with former friends and family members and decreasing our own health and our work ethic.
If our partner cannot get their own feet underneath them and walk on their path paralleling ours to a healthier relationship, then we can foresee the relationship's demise. Not wanting the relationship to end, and knowing our partner is not going to change we end up burdening ourselves.
Instead of the final end, there comes one last effort where we try to 'carry' our partner on our shoulders, for we love them so much and do not want to see them being left behind in this land of chaos and loss.
Some will eventually fall by the weight of the person they are trying to carry and remain in that spot for days, weeks, and years. Some will go back to chaos and destruction land and build a camp there because, in their minds, this is better than nothing.
Our trust in ourselves is compromised when we look around and feel lost in our own journey and seem helpless with what to do next. The longing and wish to get our lover to commit to the path of a healthier relationship is ideal.
Sadly, many of us come to the understanding that even with all our efforts, all our prayers, all our hope, and all the changes and compromises of ourselves, the relationship still does not work.
We come to the place of making the tough choice to move away from destruction and move towards a healthier self, even if that means significantly diminishing contact with our lover or completely abdicating the relationship.
The Choice to End the Relationship and Move On
To gain the courage to leave a relationship is to begin the journey to reclaim the lost self. Instead of thinking you are moving away from your partner, think of it as you move towards a more vibrant and alive self.
The most painful place you can be in is limbo—doing nothing. Before you take the step to talk to your lover, make an internal map for yourself. Decide on a direction and maintain this path regardless of his answers, promises, and manipulations.
Hold the compass in your hand. The tools and the alias to move you through are there. Even if you only see glimpses now, or the path looks dark and scary, you will find resources for your journey.
Eventually, you will find what you are seeking. The lost self does come back once you move forward; you will come full circle to the place you lost her. On your journey, you will collect the parts of yourself that you need to honor and keep as part of yourself. As well as expel the parts of yourself that needed the harsh lessons of this relationship to break off.
Anew, and without the heaviness of a relationship that no longer works, you will begin to breathe again. Life will sprout with joy; even with the grief of not having this relationship anymore, there will be a new feeling . . . joy, resilience, hope, freedom.