[Paleopsych] BBC: Relationships: Couples: Is it over?
checker at panix.com
Tue Jul 19 01:17:14 UTC 2005
Relationships: Couples: Is it over?
Falling out of love can sometimes be just as easy as falling in love.
Working out whether it's just a phase or if your relationship has
reached the end of the line is one of life's hardest decisions.
Relationship psychotherapist Paula Hall asks the difficult
The pros and cons
When people try to decide if their relationship's over, they often
find themselves weighing up the pros and cons.
On the pros side they put all their partner's positive character
traits, the happy memories and the advantages of being together.
On the cons they list all the things they don't like about their
partner, the painful memories and the reasons why living together
sometimes feels impossible.
The problem with this system is that they're never measuring like for
like. For example, when listing personal qualities, how many negatives
would it take to counteract being an excellent mother? And how many
happy memories does it take to outweigh an affair?
Unfortunately, there's no formula and no conclusive tests when it
comes to deciding whether your relationship's over. All you can do is
ask yourself some difficult, soul-searching questions and see what the
Is love enough?
Love means different things to different people and at different
stages of their lives, so can it be relied on in the decision-making
process? For example, one woman may spend years in an abusive
relationship, saying "I love him," while another will walk away from a
seemingly idyllic marriage because she's no longer "in love".
Love can sometimes blind us to the reality of what we really have. And
although it's difficult, we can choose to love someone and we can
choose to stop loving them. As well as being a feeling, love is
something we do.
Do you like your partner?
Before you can love someone, you have to like them.
If you enjoy being with your partner, agree with how they think and
behave, and share the same dreams in life, you're doing well. If your
partner is also someone whom you respect, trust and feel affection
for, you have all the basics for love to grow.
Can you communicate?
All relationships hit problems at one time or another; the key to
overcoming them is communication.
Within your relationship, there needs to be a genuine capacity for
sharing and expressing your thoughts and feelings in a way that feels
OK for you both. There also need to be ways to resolve conflict
and for you both to address any unmet needs.
Is change possible?
If there's a particular issue that makes you want to leave, you first
need to consider whether it's possible to make changes to resolve the
Is the problem something you can let go, or is it fundamental to your
happiness? If it's the former, you have to ask yourself if you can
change; if it's the latter, can your partner do the changing?
If your partner doesn't agree that there's a problem, they won't
change. If they do agree and are willing to change, you have to decide
whether you believe they have the capacity to change.
Is it too late?
There's no doubt that some situations do get better with time. Even
the most painful betrayals can become less significant if there's an
ability to forgive and move on.
But if either you or your partner has been hanging on to a grudge for
years and there's no indication that the pain has eased at all, you
may decide it's too late for a resolution.
Another indication that it may be too late to save the relationship is
if one of you has already started to develop a life that excludes the
other. This might include a change in career or lifestyle, or starting
another relationship that you don't want to end. If this is the case,
then even though you haven't made a verbal decision to end the
relationship, it may be that emotionally you've already left.
Deciding to end a relationship is extremely difficult and not a
decision to be taken quickly or lightly. Many people find that talking
through their thoughts and feelings with a counsellor can help. To
find out more, see Do you need counselling?
Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Resolving
Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum (Michael Joseph)
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