Are you tired of settling for for the crumbs in a relationship but you find yourself not wanting to end it?
It can be very tough when you are in a relationship and you are trying to determine when your irreconcilable differences should result in a permanent separation. In this example, the client is single and trying to determine if she has tried enough to find compatibility in a relationship where there seems to be huge differences. The woman was in love with this man and continued to feel that the problems could be solved however she felt she lacked the skills to get him to change. She did not realize consciously that her boyfriend was emotionally abusive and had no intentions of securing a plan for long term change.
When this young woman walked into my office and shared her story, she reported “I’m here to have you help me decipher when enough is enough.” She cited that she and her boyfriend had lived together for approximately three years. She assumed that their living together was a natural step toward marriage. However, when he became angry he would throw up his hands, hurl verbal insults, and kick her out of their home. After a cooling-off period he would suggest they talk, have dinner, and of course have sex.
He seemed genuinely sorry about his reaction and expected her to accept his apology. I asked her why she had made the appointment to see me. She explained that the rational part of her was struggling with the emotional part. The rational side of her knew that she should break it off permanently. However, the emotional side wanted things to work out. Hence, the question, “How do I know when enough is enough?”
The formula is simple. If you are asking the question, you already know the answer. The real question is how to detach from this person emotionally and create a new life.
The strategy requires hard work, because it means really protecting the emotional side by having no contact with the person. The loneliness then needs to be supplemented with activities that:
• Allow self-exploration.
• Are fun and will provide a respite for grief.
• Develop relationships that fill the void.
Ending a relationship requires discipline, e.g. to not pick up the phone, or to avoid the rendezvous for an evening.
My job is to remind the clients of the behaviors that caused them their unhappiness. I typically ask them to describe in detail why they broke up with each other and then to write down the reasons. I also encourage clients to write out the relationship they do want, and we discuss whether their expectations are realistic. If their expectations are appropriate, then they work on developing the faith and self-esteem to wait for that relationship. In the meantime it is their responsibility to create fun and meaning in their lives. There is nothing better than an emotionally healthy, intimate relationship with a partner, and yet there are plenty of other types of gratifying relationships to pursue.