By Katie & Gay Hendricks
How do you know when it’s time to leave a relationship?
On one hand, you’re very unhappy with your partner. Maybe there’s a lot of fighting, financial troubles, infidelity, or abuse.
You may feel worn out and out of options.
Or maybe you’ve simply fallen out of love with your partner and your heart longs for something else or something more.
You often think about leaving, but you also are left wondering if you’ve done everything you can to work things out.
Maybe there are children involved. Maybe your money situation prevents you from moving out. Maybe you’re afraid of being alone.
Things are just complicated!
It can feel like a tug of war sometimes between what your heart tells you and what you think is the right thing to do.
How will I know it’s the right time to leave?
If I decide to go, am I leaving in the grip of some insidious pattern that will just repeat itself in my next relationship?
We have encountered these types of questions so often from many different people around the world. From Boston to Berlin to Bombay, people from all cultures, at one point or another, find themselves gripped by this dilemma.
The reason this decision is usually so gut-wrenching reaches beyond the details of what’s happening in the relationship.
It’s not the pros and cons, or who will be hurt, or whose life will be turned upside down that makes this such a difficult decision.
It feels difficult because of where people turn to for advice when they begin asking themselves, “Should I stay or should I go?”
For days, weeks and maybe months, you have been in the grip of two very strong forces: stay or go, yes or no.
Being in a state of limbo between these two choices can generate a tremendous energy drain.
It can drag you down, physically and mentally.
You slog through work, you aren’t present with your kids, and you feel a sense of dread constantly.
The gravity of your decision weighs on you. And no wonder – choosing to stay or leave can alter the course of your life and affect those closest to you.
This is why we advise just about anyone who comes to us with this dilemma to first consider the way in which you’re making the decision and to avoid these two critical mistakes…
I once asked an abused woman why she moved back in with the same husband who beat her up four times in a month and she said, “I thought maybe he was improving and I ought to give it another chance. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
This is a perfect example of why we say that the mind is a very unreliable advisor at times like this.
Our minds will persuade us to run back into a burning building to get our favorite shoes, or take our paycheck to the casino (or the mall).
Or stay in a physically abusive and potentially deadly relationship!
If our logical mind is busy trying to persuade our heart and body into doing (or not doing) something, it puts us in a frightful bind. We feel in conflict because our mind is telling us one thing while our body is screaming “No!”
Our logical mind isn’t always the best judge of what will make us happy, or keep us safe.
Love, attraction, fear, anger, disappointment – rarely do these emotions follow a logical path. And that’s why logic is a bad advisor in relationship.
It’s natural to turn to friends and family for advice.
We are social creatures and also very influenced by what society tells us is right or wrong. We want to fit in and we want people to like us.
Especially those we love!
But sometimes our friends and family are not the best people to turn to make a decision on whether or not we should leave a relationship.
Why? Because while friends and family are motivated by compassion for us, they may also be motivated by fear.
If they give you advice about your relationship, they may have to start asking themselves difficult questions, too. When one couple breaks up, it sends ripples through the entire social circle, causing everyone to reflect on what’s happening in their own love life.
Some of your friends will tell you to go, and some will encourage you to work it out. It all depends on their life experience and personal viewpoint.
This isn’t helpful, because it keeps you in limbo.
And it ignores the one source of wisdom that can help you make the most enlightened decision for you:
Your body has inherent wisdom that bypasses “should” or “must” or “what will others think?” It knows what makes you feel at ease and what doesn’t.
Your body holds memories of events that your mind would rather forget. Those memories can be very instructive when making a decision about your love life.
To find out whether you should take your body out of a relationship, you must let your body do the talking.
Not your mind or logic. And not your friends or family.
Unless your body gives you a clear signal one way or the other, you will exist in a limbo state that will eat up your energy. You will feel exhausted from debating, worrying and going back and forth in your mind.
This is valuable energy that you can use to come up with creative solutions to your relationship, health or career problems.
Your organic body sensations are the best source of wisdom and information, about what is happening with your emotions and whether or not a relationship is right for you.
So how can you listen to your body and start to make more intuitive choices about love?
If you’ve worked hard to create a satisfying love life, but you keep experiencing pain and disappointment, there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten a key component to lasting change – your body. Learn more here: