Ask Mr. Manners

Knowing when to let go

Relationships require a vast investment of time, money, and most of all, emotional energy. The more you invest in a relationship, the more it shapes your choices and ultimately your life. When you have so much invested, it can be hard to let go for multiple reasons. But when a relationship deteriorates, there’s inevitably a time when the damage is so severe, no amount of salvaging can save it. Knowing when to let go is the key to being able to move forward toward the better relationship you deserve. While I am not a therapist, here are a few of the signs I have noticed that it’s time to let go of a relationship.

While chemistry and shared values are important, at the end of the day, solid relationships are built on the goodness that exists between two people. Goodness is what holds relationships together. It is the kindness and good will toward each other. It’s being on a partner’s side even when they might be wrong. It’s the support, admiration, respect, dedication, and commitment you have with each other. The goodness doesn’t generally disappear overnight; it’s erodes slowly over time. Unfortunately, once the goodness fades, generally so much hurt in the relationship makes it difficult to regain.

Respect is one of the most important aspects of any relationship; it even trumps trust, because you cannot trust someone who has no respect for you. Even small slights matter because the way someone treats you ultimately reveals their character and their true feelings about you. Disrespect comes in many forms, and you may not always recognize it, but you will still feel it. If you’re not sure if a partner is disrespectful or unaware, tell them how their behavior is making you feel. If he or she makes an effort to understand your perspective and alter their behavior, they are showing you they care, but if they dismiss you or go right back to the same behavior, they’re showing a lack of respect for you and your relationship.

The energy flow between two people in most healthy relationships is generally fairly equal. The give-and-take should allow both partners, for the most part, to feel they are getting their needs met. When a relationship starts to deteriorate, it can feel like one person is doing all the work to maintain it, which creates an unbalance and a disconnect. The person doing all the work can become resentful, and the other can become more and more complacent.

When you try too hard to get someone to come toward you, they generally move in the opposite direction. If you feel you’ve been doing most of the work in your relationship lately, take a big step back and see what happens. If your partner starts to pick up the slack and comes toward you, then re-aligning the energy is possible. However, if you step back and your partner gets angry or continues to drift away, they’re likely not coming back.

While every relationship is different, both people should generally feel there is room for them to grow and develop. They should feel there’s space for their interests in the relationship, and enough opportunity for their needs to be met.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but maintaining your self-respect and dignity is key to your mental wellbeing, and sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for yourself. Know that when you take care of you, you are putting yourself in the best possible position to be in a happy, healthy, and fulfilling relationship, and hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before you find one.

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