Breakups can be a slippery slope. We think we know what we want, then we talk ourselves out of what we want because we are unsure if we really want it... and then try convince ourselves into something we never wanted. It gets SO confusing.
But, when we remove the fear and obligation that accompany a pending breakup, we can start to see much more clearly what we really do want. It’s there, it just gets clouded by our emotional reaction to our partner, and the likely end of the relationship.
In order to tap into what you really want to do, start by asking yourself “am I staying because I want to or because I’m afraid of being alone?”
This question will help expose what you need to make a decision and take your next step. A professor of mine used to say: "behind every complaint is an unmet need." Our job as adults is to figure out what our unmet needs are for ourselves. If you want to stay and you want to try work on the relationship, then the need here is going to be getting buy-in from your partner. If each of you is committed to making the relationship the priority, and working on issues together as a team, then you stand a better chance at remaining together. If your partner does not want to join you on this, then I am sorry to say, its over.
If the answer to the question: "am I staying because I want to or because I’m afraid of being alone?” is that you are staying because you do not want to be alone… well then this is a need that you are going to have to address without your partner.
The unmet need in this scenario is confidence building, self assurance, and self compassion. When we stay with someone because we would rather not be alone, INSTEAD of staying with them because they add value to our lives and our well being, then we are settling. And we settle when we lack confidence. When we believe that what we want is too much, and so we have to make excuses for behavior that we would not otherwise tolerate, we are lacking confidence.
Stop and think about the shit you are currently tolerating in your relationship. If your best friend was in a relationship and he/she was being treated the way you are, and tolerating it, would you encourage them to keep tolerating? Would you tell them that this is the best they are going to do? This lack of confidence can be addressed in these three steps (and download the full handout here):
You know when you are ignoring red flags and convincing yourself to stay because you:
Think it is the best you will do
Feel obligated to stay and make the relationship work to somehow prove you are worth it
Think leaving makes you a quitter
Do not buy into those false beliefs that you have something to prove. If it's not working, and you have tried to make it work, give yourself permission to let it go.