Let’s get right into the nitty gritty: this is a tough question to answer. And because I don’t know the ins and outs of your relationship, I can’t definitively tell you whether or not breaking up is the right thing to do. But I can walk you through the process of answering the question for yourself. And it all starts with a little something called cost benefit analysis.
Give a Little, Get a Lot
Lesli Doares, Couples Consultant and Coach, says it all comes down to cost and benefit. Are you willing to give a little, in order to get a lot? In other words, you need to decide if you’re willing (or able) to make some sacrifices to make the relationship work. She says, “a big question to ask is, ‘Am I getting enough from this relationship to grieve and let go of what I’m not getting?’ This actually is from Terry Real’s The New Rules of Marriage. No relationship is going to meet all of a person’s needs, so there has to be some way of determining what is crucial to have and what is nice to have. In other words, clarity about your deal breakers. If these are present, the relationship is beyond repair no matter what other things are present.”
Additionally, you should do a quick evaluation of how you and your partner solve problems, and see if you can’t improve those problem-solving techniques. “Another determining factor is how challenges have been addressed,” Doares explains. “If there has been no objective outside help (not complaint sessions with friends or family members), there may be solutions that haven’t been tried. It’s hard to get out of our own heads and experiences and see other perspectives.”
Now back to the “give a little, give a lot” notion: ultimately, do you want the relationship to last? “The determining factor is how you feel in this relationship,” Doares says. “Do you want to want it to work? Have you really listened to your partner and made a concerted effort to address their requests? Do your life goals mesh? Knowing what you want and the adjustments you’re willing to make to get there are big determiners in whether a particular relationship will work.”
The Reality Is…
I know—you were probably hoping for a more straightforward answer. But the truth is that nobody can tell you whether or not breaking up is the right thing to do. That’s for you to decide. Still, I’m going to make it a little easier on you. If you answer yes to the following questions, the reality is that you’re probably better off apart…
1. Is the relationship toxic or harmful in any way?
If two people want to be together, they can make it work—unless the relationship is tainted with abuse or toxicity. Mental, emotional, and physical abuse are never okay, and often the beginning of the end of a relationship. If your partner abuses you in any way, it is dire that you end it and seek help as needed.
2. Do you find yourself thinking about breaking up often?
Clearly, the idea of breaking up crosses your mind from time to time. That’s perfectly okay. But if you’re thinking about it consistently—what it would be like, whether or not you should do it, how it might play out—then that’s a pretty good indication that you aren’t super happy in your relationship. And you might be better off spending some time with yourself to at least figure out what you really want right now.
3. Do you go well together?
As Doares touched on earlier, you should think about how well you mesh with your partner. Are your lifestyles similar or at least complimentary of each other? Do you have similar interests that you can enjoy together? Do your goals and visions for the future align? These are important questions to ask and they’ll shed light on whether or not breaking up is the right thing to do.
4. Would you be happier without this person or this relationship?
And finally, what does your life look without this person? Are you a whole lot happier single or in a different relationship? If you truly can’t imagine life without your partner and you’ve fostered a healthy relationship, then you probably shouldn’t break up. Ultimately, it comes down to how happy you are and how healthy the relationship is.