Deciding whether or not to break up with someone can be a really difficult choice. Sure, there are some obvious reasons that you should break up with someone — and it can be very clear when a relationship isn’t working.
“You should break up with someone if you continue to have the same couples’ conflicts and arguments repeatedly and your partner refuses to support satisfying your needs,” Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills child, parenting, and relationship psychotherapist tells Bustle. “A healthy working relationship requires two willing participates who want to please each other’s wants and needs.”
But as much as you might know that, it’s easy to come up with reasons to stay together — or at least, that you think mean you should stay together. You love each other, you don’t like being alone, you think things will change — these might all be true, but that doesn’t mean you should stay in the relationship.
Breakups are hard and it’s not uncommon to feel ambivalent, but so often, they are the right choice, even when there were some good things about the relationship.
So here are “reasons” to stay together that don’t actually mean you should stay together at all, according to experts.
Not wanting to be single is just not a good enough reason to stay in a relationship that isn’t working. Actually, f you hate being single, it’s all the more important that you work on it.
“I think being single is an exercise that every person should go through at some point in their adult life,” psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. “It is a time that gives us the distance and clarity that we need to get to know who we truly are as a person, and to firmly define what it is that we want in a future partner.”
Sometimes, you might think that being totally wrapped up in each other is a good reason to stay together, but actually, the opposite is often true. “If you find yourself unrecognizable to yourself and loved ones, it may be a sign you should break up with your partner,” psychologist and breakup coach Joy Harden Bradford tells Bustle. “We all change in some ways in relationships, but the changes shouldn’t be so drastic that there is little to no trace of the person you were before you got into this relationship.”
If you feel like this person is your whole world, there’s a good chance the relationship isn’t very healthy.
Not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings might be kind, but it’s not actually a reason to stay together. Instead, you should focus on breaking up with them as nicely as possible. “There is an art to breaking up with someone,” Audrey Hope, a celebrity relationship expert, tells Bustle. “If you do what needs to be done, you can sail through it.” Choose your timing, give your partner a chance to be upset, but, more than any of that, stick to your guns.
If your relationship isn’t working, but you like the security (or the luxury) that your partner’s financial situation brings, it’s just not a good enough reason to stay with someone. Focus on becoming financially secure and, if you need it, see if you can get help from friends and family.
Of course, if you’re reliant on your partner because there’s actual financial abuse, that’s definitely a situation you should seek help for. “Financial abuse is the withholding of funds or refusing access to funds to a responsible partner,” Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, a therapist at Abundant Life Counseling St. Louis, LLC, tells Bustle. “The aim of it is to gain control and dominance over one’s partner or one’s own fear and anxiety of losing money.” If this sounds like your relationship, don’t be afraid to get help.
Being together for a long time can be great, but it’s not a reason to stay together, especially if you’ve fallen into a slump. “They are not putting energy into the relationship, and you simply date when it’s convenient,” zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. “Relationships should progress, not stay stagnant.” A past doesn’t necessarily equal a future.
Sometimes we become so involved in our partner’s people that they become our people. It’s not even about our partner, it’s about their family and friends who have become our family and friends. It’s not a reason to stay together, but it might mean you need to give yourself more time to grieve the relationship.
“Many people who initiate breakups are surprised by the amount of ambivalence, and even regret that they feel after the fact,” Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, LMFT, board-certified life coach, and the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling & Coaching, tells Bustle. “Even though you’re initiating a breakup, you still need to do the work of grieving, and finding closure.”
If you feel that you’ve become really entangled in their world, make sure you give yourself some TLC while you go through the breakup — and seek out things to make your life feel full and happy.
Loving each other just isn’t enough. Being madly in love with someone is intoxicating, but it’s not enough to make a relationship work. It’s important to be stable, and it’s important to be compatible on the big issues.
“There are some obvious ones, like not wanting the same things in life, lifestyle choices in terms of travel or location, and relationship style (i.e. monogamous versus polyamorous),” Melody Kiersz, Professional Matchmaker at digital matchmaking service, Tawkify, tells Bustle. But there are also so many other things — whether you want children, your values, your outlook, your priorities — that can throw a relationship off course. Loving each other is crucial, but it’s just not something that means you should stay in a bad relationship.
There may be a lot of good things about your partner — but they’re not necessarily good enough reasons to stay in a relationship that isn’t working. Just because you can point to a few positive elements, doesn’t mean you should be with this person. Ultimately, you want to be in a relationship that makes you life better, not one you’re struggling to keep afloat. So don’t let fear or duty keep you stuck in a bad relationship, rather than finding the relationship you deserve.