Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

3 Questions for Deciding to Leave Him or Stay

Finding the value within you.

"You should leave him!"

Do these words ring familiar? Have you been told this by concerned family members and friends because they see you with a relationship partner who does not value you enough?

Is it maddening when you tell yourself to leave him or her but find that you just go back? Maybe you overly reflect on past good times and just want them back. Perhaps you see potential in your partner that no one else seems to see. Or, maybe you love the partner so much and can't truly see yourself without them. Perhaps you fear being alone, even for short time.

If you can relate to these dilemmas, please know that there are a lot of "emotionally walking wounded" people like you out there. I coach many women and men who are in up-and-down, drama-filled, problematic relationships.

To be fair, sometimes we exaggerate or distort what our partners do and develop blind spots regarding our own relationship behaviors. In my book, Why Can't You Read My Mind?, I discuss nine toxic thinking patterns that destroy loving relationships. The premise is that we need to be aware of how we think and feel about our partners. We do need to identify irrational beliefs which get in the way of loving relationships. For example, do you engage in "all or nothing" thinking in which you see your partner as always worried about himself before others? Or how about labeling where you unfairly assign an all-encompassing negative label to your partner such as lazy. The problem with giving someone a label is that you are encouraging him or her to live up to it.

But let's say this person you are casually dating, seeing on a steady basis, or even married to is treating you poorly and has been doing so for a while. And consider all you have been doing (which does not seem to help) to promote a healthier relationship such as trying to talk things out, come up with better compromises, or maybe even suggesting counseling.

In this case, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is there anything else I can change to make this relationship better?

If the answer is truly "yes," then you can keep working on it. But just make sure the work you do is with a small "w" (learning, within reason, to communicate better) versus a big "W" (recovering from repeatedly being put down). If there really is, however, nothing you can do to make the relationship better, then go to questions 2 and 3.

2. Do I feel better or worse about myself by being in this relationship?

If, for example, you are only in the relationship to avoid being alone, then this is likely not a healthy situation for you. If you feel really taken with the partner (except for the times she or he treats you poorly) than ask yourself how reasonable is it that they treat you poorly in the first place? Has it become a habit for them to treat you that way and for you to accept it?

3. Am I better off with or without them, for the long term?

Do you really believe this person is your best option for being in a healthy, happy relationship? If you honestly can say no, then it may be time to go!

All relationships are unique and can feel complex. But my clients have found that the above questions can help clarify relationship decisions and make them feel less complicated.