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Knowing When to Work on a Relationship and When to Leave

I study topics related to emotional response in relationships to improve well-being with self-awareness and healthy perspectives.

When should you put effort into a relationship and when should you leave?

When should you put effort into a relationship and when should you leave?

If you’re undecided about your relationship, this article will help clarify your misconceptions. You need to know if you should just end your relationship or try to work on it.

Rather than let time drift by without much involvement, it’s crucial to be emotionally involved with your partner. That’s the only way you can figure out what’s wrong and make an informed decision. The two of you need to make yourselves available to communicate.

Let’s review how to become emotionally involved so you can make a conscious decision on your relationship’s future.

How To Avoid Wasting Time in a Doubtful Relationship

It’s helpful to let your partner know how you feel and what’s important to you. It’s also crucial to understand how your partner feels—to know what they want out of the relationship.

Help your partner share their thoughts and feelings with you. That includes their fears. You need to understand their concerns, just as you would want them to understand yours.

If you’re in a new relationship, or even a long-term relationship that's not working out, ask your partner this question, “How do you feel about me?”

When you know your partner's feelings, you can both make an intelligent decision to move forward, build a dream relationship, or end it without wasting time if you both conclude that it’s unsuitable.

Either conclusion is achieved by making yourself emotionally involved. Let's examine both extremes, being involved on an emotional level and being emotionally unavailable.

The Problem With Being Emotionally Unavailable

To appreciate the concept of being emotionally involved, let’s examine the opposite, being emotionally unavailable, as described in the Urban Dictionary 1:

"An emotionally unavailable partner creates barriers to intimacy and can make you feel unloved or unwanted. Emotionally Unavailable people find it hard to make time for friends and loved ones."

As you can see, that attitude doesn't encourage a meaningful relationship.

Availability in this sense requires us to be emotionally conscious of both sides of the issue and communicate those thoughts with our partner. That includes being aware of our partner’s good qualities but also recognizing what stands in the way.

Those who are emotionally unavailable may miss essential considerations that would help them decide to stay in a good relationship or leave a bad one.

When you are unavailable emotionally, you might hesitate to make a crucial decision. You might end up staying in an undesirable relationship with one who has a personality flaw that is a deal-breaker.

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When you're not available emotionally, you might lack the desire to communicate and discuss significant issues.

I know many friends who never dealt with their issues and married someone with whom they were unhappy. Each one of them ended up getting divorced eventually.

How to Become Emotionally Involved

Reflect on your thoughts and feelings.

  1. Think about why your partner is important to you.
  2. Consider specific things for which you are grateful.
  3. Be aware of your partner’s good qualities.
  4. Distinguish common interests, goals, values, and beliefs.
  5. Remember the incredible moments you both had shared.

A quote by Sam Keen, an admired American author, professor, and philosopher, says it best:

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”

— Sam Keen

The Power of Emotional Availability

I feel that love is your safe haven. Challenging life issues become less stressful when two people in love are together and share the same feelings. That kind of love is difficult to stifle!

When one is available on an emotional level, one is aware of the relationship's good and bad qualities. More importantly, they are involved and willing to talk about those issues that may stand in the way of moving forward.

Emotional availability leads to knowing what one another wants from the relationship. It helps to express emotions constructively. You'll have the ability to work through difficult times as a team player in the relationship.2

More importantly, it makes one conscious of their partner's good qualities and to appreciate them more. That's important because once we recognize we are with someone special, we'll know that they are the right person for a long-term relationship. We'll appreciate our partner, and we won't look for faults.

You may find yourself desiring your partner more than ever.

Quick question:

Awareness of How You Feel

Being available also means being aware of our choices—either staying in a relationship or moving on with our lives if it’s an undesirable relationship.

We might have a happy life with the wrong person as long as it's not a toxic situation and we recognize why we are choosing to hold on.

Some people often ignore the good things about their mate. They forget the lovely things that happen in their relationship, and they tend to remember the bad experiences more readily.

Bad feelings have a stronger effect on decision-making. We may even become judgmental based on bad memories.

I notice friends in this situation ignore that they are indeed involved with the right person and are in a good relationship. They end up focusing on the negatives and complaining about their partner. They are fooling themselves and missing out on enjoying life with a wonderful person.

Quick question:

Communication and Trust Is Crucial

I have a saying I like to remember: Two people in a relationship should consider themselves as team players.

That means each partner needs to be there for the other, especially in times of need, such as going through a health crisis or mourning a deceased family member.

To build a better relationship with love and respect, we need to have communication and trust. We need to share all our feelings, both the good and the bad. When feeling discouraged about our partners, we need to try to remember the marvelous things about them.

Discussing all our thoughts and feelings is essential to have a clear understanding of one another. Focusing on your partner by making yourself emotionally available will help you recognize the love, joy, and caring in the relationship. That will leave you with a deep appreciation of the closeness that you both share.

Quick question:

In Conclusion

It's terrific when you can be yourself with someone and with whom you can relate, understand, and appreciate.

Emotional availability will help you understand how you truly feel about your partner. If you only remember the negative issues, you'll have resistance to acceptance. If you genuinely are emotionally available, you will keep both sides of the equation in your conscious mind.

When you know you’re involved with someone you can trust, someone who will always be there for you and understands your needs, your fears, and your feelings, never let them go!


  1. MisT. (May 07, 2013). “Emotionally Unavailable” - Urban Dictionary
  2. Denise Limongello. (August 21, 2020). “How to Be a Team Player to Your Spouse” -

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Glenn Stok

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