Dear Hitting the Road,
Oh - that's a good question! It is SO hard to walk away from a relationship because anyone who's ever been through a difficult breakup knows the rough road that may be ahead.
More often than not, I think we know when we need to end a relationship. Whether you intentionally assess the relationship, or you merely sense that incessant tension and nagging guilt that urges you to stand up and be honest about how you feel, sometimes "you just know." The only problem is, it is much easier to ignore it and go on than it is to face reality.
Why It's Easy To Stay in a Bad Relationship
In fact, I think it is much easier to stay in a bad relationship than it is to leave it because:
- It is not fun to be alone, and even less fun to be alone after having been "attached".
- We are afraid of hurting the other person's feelings.
- We are afraid of hurting ourselves and are very good at fooling ourselves.
- We are afraid of the pain and loneliness we might feel.
- If sex is involved, we have created an extremely strong and intimate bond with the other person that was really only designed for the ultimate committed relationship -- marriage.
- Our insecurities cause us to feel like we "need" the other person.
- We have wrapped our lives so tightly around the other person that we feel like we really wouldn't have much of a life left without him or her.
Whatever your situation, you must be honest with yourself and your partner and do the right thing, as best as you can determine it. If you really know "deep down" that the relationship is not right, you would be better off confronting the truth and taking care of it sooner rather than later. (It usually gets more difficult with time.)
Don't Give Up Too Soon
On the other hand, I would caution you against giving up too soon just because of your feelings (which may change over time). True love is not just a feeling but a commitment -- a decision to accept and serve someone unconditionally. (For more on that, see my bio.) If you are simply going through a "plateau" in the relationship, you might want to spend some more time thinking about it, or better yet praying about it.
Family and Friends Help
One other tip - parents, family, and friends can often have a good perspective on relationships. They are not as intimately involved in the situation, so they can sometimes see things we can't. You might seek their counsel.