When to Work On a Relationship and When to Leave

Updated on August 28, 2017
Glenn Stok profile image

Based on his studies of social behavior and his personal experience, Glenn Stok writes inspirational articles focused on improving life.

You may have heard of the term "emotionally available." I wasn’t aware that there is a two-sided viewpoint of this until one day when my therapist explained this to me:

  1. When you are emotionally available and fully aware of the good things about your relationship you may find yourself desiring your partner more than ever. Being conscious of your partner's good qualities will actually help with appreciating them better.
  2. If you are not focused on what you really want in life you may find yourself wasting time with inappropriate partners. This may be due to a lack of emotional availability.

As you can see, there are actually two sides to the concept of Emotional Availability. It's important to be conscious of our partner's good qualities. However, it's equally important to recognize when we’re involved with the wrong person. Otherwise we may waste time with someone who doesn't fit the image of the person we actually want to spend our life with. When this happens, we tend to look for faults.

The first point is important because once we recognize we are with someone special, then we'll know for sure that they are the right one for a long-term relationship. We'll appreciate them and we won't look for faults.

The second point above means that it's just as important to know when to let go, if someone is not right for us. Relationships such as that will most likely end eventually anyway.

Lack of being emotionally available can cause us to marry the wrong person.
Lack of being emotionally available can cause us to marry the wrong person. | Source

Being Emotionally Unavailable Can Hinder Communication

Being unavailable emotionally can cause you to just let time go by without moving forward with a decision. You might end up staying in a bad relationship, never discussing the issues.

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

They may find themselves lacking the desire to communicate and discuss the issues. Feelings may be held within and never shared. The result is that things drag on until something major happens that either ends the relationship or forces the parties to finally sit down and talk.

Which one of these things happens is all a matter of how good both partners are with their ability to communicate. Being emotionally unavailable can hinder any attempt to share thoughts and feelings.

Quick question:

Are you in a relationship you're not sure about but letting time just drift by?

See results

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

The two-sided concept that I introduced at the start of this article explains how “moving forward” can mean either continuing, or ending, a relationship.

As I mentioned earlier, lack of emotion can actually cause one to stay in a bad relationship or in one with the wrong partner. I know a lot of friends who never dealt with the issues and ended up getting married to someone they were unhappy with. Each one of them ended up getting divorced in later years.

Exercising complete emotional availability involves being attentive to what is going on.

Pay Attention to the Positive Traits About Your Mate

Many people often ignore the good things about their mate. They forget the wonderful things that happen in their relationship and they observe and remember only the negative.

Every relationship will have difficult periods from time to time. Everyone has different views of the world and of events. We each have different habits and beliefs. These differences can cause insecurity in a relationship.

Even worse, it can lead to arguments. The problem is that we tend to remember the bad experiences more readily than the good ones.

This can confuse our thinking when dealing with relationships. Bad feelings have a stronger effect on decision making than good feelings. We may even become judgmental based on bad memories.

Quick question:

Do you tend to remember the bad things and rarely focus on wonderful things your partner does?

See results

Focus on Communication and Trust

For the sake of building 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 bad about our mate, we need to try to remember the wonderful things about them.

If we just remember the negative issues, we'll have a resistance to acceptance. If we truly are emotionally available, we will keep both sides of the equation in our conscious mind.

Discussing all our thoughts and feelings is important to have a clear understanding of one another. This will also help with realizing if the relationship is a workable one for both partners.

On the other hand, if we stay with someone who is not right for us rather than moving on, then we are not allowing ourselves to be available when the right one does come along. I made this mistake a few times.

There are many reasons why we may stay with someone who is not right for us. Maybe for sex - maybe for companionship - maybe even for reasons related to unresolved issues we had in childhood.

Quick question:

Do you trust your partner enough to be willing to talk about difficult issues?

See results
Some people miss out on enjoying life because they're not attentive to their relationship.
Some people miss out on enjoying life because they're not attentive to their relationship. | Source

Be Attentive to the Relationship

Staying with someone who is not a positive influence in our lives may have a negative effect on our emotional health. Why be in a relationship with such a person?

Try to be emotionally available in every respect. If we don't stop and think then we are just letting time pass without leading to anything positive. We need to be attentive to our own needs and desires, but we also need to be very attentive to the needs and desires of our mate.

This concept of attentiveness also refers to “being available.” It gives us the ability to understand why we may be choosing to spend years of our life with the wrong person. With that we will come to terms with the reason for our decision. Then we can accept it and love our partner for it, or let him or her free.

How to Know When You're With a Wonderful Person

As you can see, “being available” also means having the courage to move on with our life and letting someone go if it’s a bad relationship.

Notice that I referred to this as a "bad" relationship. This is in contrast to simply being with the "wrong person" as I mentioned above.

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

I see with some of my friends who are in this kind of situation are forgetting that they are involved with a good person and that they are in a good relationship. They just 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.

When we recognize the reality of what we have, we will appreciate it and be able to experience a better life with an outlook that is more in line with our dreams and our desires.

We may already be with our soul mate and not realize it. Emotional availability will help us realize how we really feel about our partner. Just remember to pay attention and recognize his or her good qualities.

© 2009 Glenn Stok

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    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY

      LaTrice - You did the right thing breaking up with him. It sure sounds like he didn’t have the ability to be there for you, especially in your time of need.

      I have a saying: Two people in a relationship should consider themselves as team players. He definitely was not on your team. Sorry for the loss of your Mom.

    • Miss Liberty31 profile image

      LaTrice 2 months ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Reading this article has given me encouragement and inspiration on how to move on from my failed relationship with my ex-boyfriend. I realized that I was wasting time staying with a person who wasn't emotionally available, and missed out on amazing opportunities to find someone better than him. It was his loss, not mine.

      I chose to stay by giving my ex-boyfriend the benefit of a doubt. Despite addressing the issues between us, such as not going out on dates on a regular basis, not showing any support after my mom's tragic death, the lack of communication (he wouldn't call or text me for over one month. According to his excuses, he was "busy"), and ignoring my needs, he swept everything under the rug. His attitude infuriated me. I was supposed to be his girlfriend, someone who was a priority instead of an option. I'm disgusted with myself for allowing his disrespectful behavior to happen.

      I don't regret ending the relationship because it wasn't meant to be. I refuse to be involved with a person who's selfish and not available. I'm not obligated to lower standards for any man. For now, I'm going to mourn the loss of my mom and enjoy being a single woman.

      Thank you for sharing this incredible article, Glenn.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 15 months ago from Long Island, NY

      [Updated Nov 2016] I added a quick poll question at the end of each section of this article, for readers to compare their answers.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 8 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Thank you kyttykatty for your comments. You are very "in tune" with this concept.

    • kyttykatty profile image

      kyttykatty 8 years ago from Dallas, TX

      This is very true and although this knowledge is inside my mind, the hopes that maybe things will change keeps me where I am even if it's bad or if I know better. Being available is definitely necessary and one cannot be so unless we let them go.