We have all heard the famous Paul Simon song, “50 ways to leave your lover” which gives us some interesting ways of saying goodbye to someone who is not a healthy partner. But what the song does not tell us are some of the reasons WHY we should consider leaving a relationship. How do you tell when someone you are dating or in an exclusive relationship with is not good for your health or psychological well-being? Here are some reasons to consider—
Together and Still Looking: Your love interest has a “For Rent” sign on his or her forehead and is just hanging with you until the next best thing comes along. How do you know this? By watching this person in the company of other people. This goes beyond looking at beautiful people or having an interesting conversation with someone other than you at a party. This is when your date to the party not only seems to find other people more interesting, they actually blatantly ignore you and have a flirtatious, come hither kind of conversation with another person. If you watch him or her slip this other person their number, disappear up the stairs, or on to the balcony, or feign a headache and leave the party early (especially if you see their flirt-buddy do the same), then take the hint and find yourself another person who has more integrity.
Temper Temper: Your dating partner is explosive, irritable, unpredictable, and downright dangerous around sharp objects. Don’t wait around to find out if the flying debris actually hits you or hurts you. Anyone who cannot hold their temper to the extent that they are throwing things, aiming things at you, exploding in a scary manner, or even hinting at the physical damage they could do to you, is just not worth the pain (and I mean that literally). And words do hurt as much or more than sticks and stones so don’t fool yourself into staying if you are constantly receiving contemptuous, abusive words thrown at you. You are definitely worth more than that! How do I know? Because no human being deserves to have a love relationship that involves fear and terror.
Are you my Mother? Are you my Father? Remember that children’s book about the sweet bird that falls out of its nest and goes looking for its mother in all the wrong places? Well, in an adult relationship, while depending on each other can bring a warm fuzzy feeling, it is not your job to finish or repair the lousy job your honey’s parents did. Here are some telltale signs – does he or she constantly need reassurance from you that you won’t leave? Do they restrict your life, your hobbies, or your outside relationships so much that you can’t stand how boring you have become to yourself? Have you lost sight of the dreams and ambitions you once had? While this may not be a huge red flashing sign saying “LEAVE”, think of it as a yellow light that is saying “Caution!” People who have unfinished business from childhood can act like bottomless pits. If your honey will work on this in therapy, that’s a green light. If not, time to exit this intersection!
I’m Rubber and You’re Glue: Does your romantic partner get defensive about everything? Does he or she refuse to take even a small part of the responsibility for arguments or mishaps? Here is an example – You are out to dinner and she treats the waitperson very poorly. You ask her what is up with that and she turns the tables on you and calls you immature for sticking up for a stranger. Or you ask him to call if he is going to be late to a date and not only does he saunter in an hour later, he suggests you must be crazy for being the slightest bit put out by his behavior. Chronic defensiveness in a partner is very difficult to deal with because it can color every attempt at communication. Romance should be fun, easy, lighthearted, and genuine at least some of the time. Who wants to wade through molasses all the time?
Cherishing versus Trashing: Finally, the heart of every healthy relationship is the nurturing bond between two people. We build this bond out of fondness, admiration, respect, care, and awesomeness. Without that feeling of the warm glow of being seen in someone’s eyes as a pretty special person, nothing else has the power to help us hang in there through tough times. If your partner is constantly letting you know all the ways in which you fail as a human being, or you get the feeling that you are an extreme make-over project for this person, you might want to consider taking down the construction signs and going home (your own home, that is). While there may be some validity to your partner’s feedback to you, all of us deserve to be cherished and savored for our uniqueness and good qualities. If your partner trashes you directly or worse yet, trashes you behind your back to others, then it is definitely time to say:
Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
I will leave you with this final caveat. People can and do change especially when a relationship means something to them. So don’t lose heart if you recognize your relationship in one of these. Often working with a therapist for yourself or with the two of you as a couple can help you learn how to be better partners for each other now and into the future. I wish you both Happy Fun Loving!