You argue. You aren’t happy. Should you break up? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help make that critical decision.
1. How unhappy are you, really?
Everyone has some bad days. Every couple goes through some bad times. Are you really quite unhappy? Most of the time?
2. Why are you unhappy?
Is your relationship really the cause of your unhappiness? Or are you fundamentally unhappy for other reasons, and take out your unhappiness on your partner? Remember that it is not your partner’s responsibility to make you happy – that’s your own job. In an ideal relationship, each partner brings their own happiness, their own self-esteem, their own fulfilled life to the partnership. The partner only needs to be the icing on the cake – not the whole meal.
3. Do you have shared values?
It isn’t necessary that you have the same political or religious views, but your relationship isn’t going to work well if your fundamental outlooks on life aren’t compatible.
4. Is there physical violence or emotional bullying in the relationship?
If so, stop reading, and make the commitment right now to leave the relationship.
Thinking you would be happier with someone else is not a good reason to separate
Of course you can imagine being wonderfully happy with the ideal partner. However, that isn’t a useful metric for evaluating the question, “Should I break up my current relationship?” The only really valid question to ask is, “Would I be happier living with no romantic partner than I am now?” Any other way of examining your situation fails the test of cold reality. Any other relationship you may imagine – whether with someone you now know, or with a hypothetical stranger – won’t be as good as you now imagine. Drop the wishful thinking, and consider only the comparison of your current relationship, versus living alone.
These are not good reasons to stay together…
1. The other person wants to stay together
Being of service to others is one of the greatest values of life, but being a doormat for someone else isn’t. Know the difference, and get out of a relationship in which you are being taken advantage of.
2. There are children involved
Having children in the relationship makes the whole situation much more serious, but it doesn’t particularly mean you shouldn’t break up. Actually, the welfare of the children may demand that you break up if they are in harm’s way. Read Don’t Stay in a Broken Marriage “For the Children”
3. Feeling embarrassed
Don’t let embarrassment about breaking up stop you. This is about you – not about your friends or relatives. If they think your partner is really nice, so what? If they never liked that person, and are saying, “I told you so,” so what?
Suppose you “need” your partner for the money they bring to the relationship? Suppose you worry about where you will live, or what you will eat. These fears can be very scary. However, be brave. Gather your courage, and make the break if you need to. You can be more resourceful than you may believe. The temporary gratification of some money grudgingly doled out by someone you can’t stand isn’t worth living a miserable life. Life on your own may be hard, but it will get better, and you will then have your own self-respect, and can find your own happiness.
5. Religious commitment
If you got married in a religious ceremony, you probably vowed, “Til death do us part.” Only you can decide whether the consequences of an ancient traditional ceremony are worth living a life of misery. Personally, I believe that is a man-made admonition rather than a God-given commandment – but that’s just my opinion.