Putting Your Relationship On Probation: Part One


Putting Your Relationship On Probation: Part One
Learning when it's time to step back and re-evaluate your relationship.

If things have been dragging along in a stuck or uncertain state and your Beloved has not responded positively to “The Talk”, you may want to put the relationship on probation. This means you will let your partner know that you may be leaving him so that he has a chance to work on things.

This is especially true if you still have hope for the relationship or you want to give him another chance. He is probably already feeling that things are off-kilter between you and that there are problems in the relationship. It may be time to have a caring yet honest talk with your partner that lets him know that for you, the relationship has entered a probationary period. If you have been seriously involved with your partner, it would not be fair to simply leave and pull the rug out from under him without warning.


There are Five Components of a Probationary Talk:

  1. Start in a mature, kind, and loving way.
  2. Be specific about what is not working.
  3. Be clear about your thoughts about the possible end of the relationship.
  4. Touch on the losses you both will have if things end.
  5. Suggest some actions or ask him for his thoughts on what actions he might suggest to turn things around.

In my new relationship advice book, Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love, I give numerous examples of women who describe what they said to their boyfriends in Probation Talks:

I really care about you, but with what has been happening between us lately, I have begun to reconsider this relationship. I am not sure that it is best for us to stay together because we can’t seem to work out our issues about the time we spend together and having a future together. Maybe if we get some help it might work out between us, but I am just not sure.
~Stella, twenty-nine

It would be very sad and painful to lose all that we have built up, for one of us to have to move out, to lose our connection. And it’s so difficult to sort everything out. And I know how lonely we will be feeling. But if it’s not working, it is not working…Our fighting is just out of control and I can’t live like this anymore. Unless there is something you think we can do to get back on track. What do you think?
~Marcie, thirty-five

It was so great in the beginning. But not now. We never talk like friends and rarely have sex. It’s like we’ve become strangers. Maybe we should take a few days apart to think about it. I think going into couples counseling or taking a couples education course might give us a chance. What do you think?
~Shakira, forty-seven

Don’t throw this speech in his face as an idle threat during fights or something you endlessly harass him about to gain power in the relationship. If you turn it into an emotional ultimatum, you will lose personal power in the relationship.

When having thing talk, here are six things to avoid:

1.  A lot of emotionality, tears, acting wounded or helpless.

2.  Making idle threats—for instance, saying over and over that you are going to leave if he doesn’t shape up.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Diana Kirschner


Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show & author of the highly acclaimed new relationship advice book, “Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love” as well as the best-seller “Love in 90 Days.”

Connect with Dr. Diana through her FREE Relationship and Dating Advice Newsletter.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: PhD
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