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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

How to know when to go

So you wonder whether or not you should stay in your current relationship. Some days are fine and some days are really painful. You experience a pervasive sense of something feeling wrong. Yet some days you feel differently and things feel fine. What should you do—should you stay or should you end the relationship? I think that's one of the hardest thing to figure out. Here are some tools you might find helpful.

Keep a Calendar

One of the things I suggest to my patients is to keep a written visual record, a calendar somewhere that allows you enough room to write. On each day, rate the relationship-- how did you feel that day about your partner. Was it a good day or a bad day, did something occur between you that upset you or were things fine. Then assign an “x" or a check mark reflecting your positive or negative feeling for the day. It helps give you perspective and after a bit of time, you have a visual reflection of what transpired during that time peroid. It can validate either perspective.

You can note that there were a lot of positives check marks and that the one or two bad days were not that bad when you look at the big picture. On the other hand, if there are many "xs" and you have a visual picture of day after day feeling that things are not good, that helps a lot when you lose sight of your objectivity.

Set a time cap

The second thing is to set a time cap-- set some specific date in the future at which time you will decide how you feel about the relationship. I suggest three or four months from the present to a year. You tell yourself that you will revisit the question of whether to stay or go at that point in time in the future. It serves to take the pressure off having to make a decision at the present time. And in that time you set the stage for making a decision without the pressure of having to make that decision right now. Usually a decision is made well in advance of the time cap.

And most importantly, be kind to yourself since you're going through something difficult. Even breaking up with someone who is clearly not for you is hard. Enlist the support of friends and family and have faith in your own ability to make a necessary decision. Change is always difficult and breakups are particularly hard to do.

More from Maria Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
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More from Maria Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
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