How to Know When a Relationship Has Run Its Course

Lately I’ve been working with some clients who are struggling in their relationships.  Feelings include frustration, anger, resentment, loneliness, pain, confusion, and sadness.  Questions I’ve seen clients ask themselves include:

  • Have I done all I can to save this relationship?
  • Am I ready to lose this person from my life entirely?
  • What else will I lose in my life if I say goodbye to this person (friends, family, financial stability, home, belongings)?
  • Will I be able to find love again?
  • Will I regret leaving?
  • Will I be happier?

Often times there are imbalances in relationships that can be looked at and discussed and those include the division of chores, time spent together, financial discrepancies, health issues, lack of support systems, and conflicting visions/goals for the future.  It can be helpful for couples to keep talking about what they want their lives to look like both individually and as a couple.  Too often we may assume odd dreams remain the same, but the truth is that we are evolving being and what we wanted 3 years ago may have changed.relationship

There are other signs that indicate that the relationship is an unhealthy one and those include:

  • physical and sexual violence
  • name calling and degrading comments
  • extreme jealousy
  • controlling behaviors
  • problematic alcohol use
  • drug use
  • cheating
  • lying
  • lack of intimacy

If you find any number of these problems in your relationship it would be beneficial for you to talk to someone to make a safe place to reduce the chance of harm.  Intimate partner violence is a serious matter and utilizing professionals is highly recommended.  Use this hotline if you or someone you know needs to talk to someone now: (800)799-SAFE (800.799.7233).

Knowing when to leave can often be a difficult process.  If you find challenges in your relationship are not improving but you are not ready to leave, consider couples counseling which can help foster difficult discussions about what each individual wants and needs.  It can provide time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not working, and a counselor can provide tools for discussions and goal setting that can be beneficial.

Letting go can be difficult and accompanying that is a process of grief and loss.  Remember this does not need to take place in isolation and many could benefit from individual counseling at this point.  This can be helpful in the grieving process, taking time to re-group and think about what you want in your life, and reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself in this process.

Creating Healthy Boundaries


Creating healthy boundaries is important in every day activities including among family, friends, in social interactions, at work, at school, and in community settings.  Watch this video to find out how to assess and create healthier boundaries.IMGP4581

Assertiveness: When to address distress?

Perhaps you know someone at work who continues to behave in a way that is causing distress. Maybe they talk very loudly when on the phone and you share an office space with them, or possibly they critique your work in a tone that is condescending.  You might feel like you have given the person the benefit of the doubt, but it seems that this behavior is getting more and more troublesome for you.  When do you decide to address this?  Will talking to this person only make things more awkward and uncomfortable?  Is there something you are doing that is contributing to this co-worker’s behavior?

My first recommendation is to take time to think this out and bounce it off someone you trust.  Dealing with sticky situations in the heat of the moment can make them even more sticky.

Photo by topgold.  Attribution license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Photo by topgold. Attribution license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Practice how you might approach this conversation.  Find a way to create a private space to talk to this person.  Start the conversation with an appreciation, such as “I really appreciate how much you help me.”  When addressing the issue, provide example of what occurred and how it made you feel.  Then allow the person to take in what you say.  They may need to clarify some things and ask some questions.  Finally, see if you both can find a way to try to resolve what hasn’t been working.  If you don’t have time for that or need more time to consider what might work, make an agreement to check in again to see what either of you might come up with.  Finally, agree to some time frame for seeing if new solution/plan is working for both of you.  This will allow you time to tweak things in the future if needed, and it also keeps the conversation going.