Breakups are hard, and they happen to everyone. Often, the person ending the relationship feels terribly about it, even if our sympathies generally lie with the person who’s been dumped. It’s not always easy to walk away from a relationship, especially without an obvious reason like infidelity or codependency.
As the person leaving, you might still struggle with depression, grief, anger, or guilt. It’s okay to feel these feelings and to know, at the same time, that you did the right thing.
When to end a relationship
Leaving your relationship is a difficult decision. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that the partnership has run its course and isn’t empowering both of you the way it once was. Depending how long it’s lasted, you might feel like you’re walking away from your one true shot at love.
Beware the sunk-cost fallacy—just because you’ve spent a long time with this person doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out. It’s important to assess your relationship carefully before making big decisions. Here are a few signs of potentially unsalvageable relationships:
- You argue constantly
- You feel like they’re an obligation
- You walk on eggshells around them
- They disrespect your boundaries
- They guilt trip you
- They don’t take responsibility for harm they’ve caused
How to address your guilt
1. You are not responsible for their feelings
Ending your relationship doesn’t make you a bad person. Prioritizing your feelings and wellbeing is a much healthier attitude to take than catering to their emotions forever.
It’s not fair for one person to hold another hostage in a relationship. If your former partner is manipulating you into staying, that is a sign of a dysfunctional relationship. Choosing yourself, giving yourself value, will make you happier in the long run.
2. Trust your logic
When you feel guilty, you might be rethinking the reasons you left this person. Your friends and family may pressure you into giving them satisfactory reasons. This could send you into a space where you’re questioning your decision-making and replaying the good parts of your relationship.
In reality, your justifications for leaving are your own. Nobody knows the intricacies of your feelings about this relationship but you.
3. You don’t need a reason
On the note of trusting yourself, know that you are free to end a relationship for any reason you see fit. That doesn’t diminish the time you spent with them or lessen the importance of your memories. It’s important to remember that just because a relationship ends, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fulfilling.
Not all relationships are meant to last ‘til death do you part. It’s much better to end things when you realize they’re not working. Keeping a relationship alive past its expiration date purely to appease one person isn’t healthy or viable.
4. Forgive yourself
You are not a terrible person for leaving. Even when those around you, including your ex, accuse you of being the bad guy in this scenario, know that exiting the relationship was the right thing for you at this time. You have one life. You weren’t happy. It’s okay to engage in self-preservation.
Grieving the end of a relationship takes time on both ends. Even though it feels like it’ll last forever, the reality is that you’ll bounce back eventually. You’re not obligated to follow a timeline for moving on. Know that it’s okay to seek counseling during this period of grief.
A therapist can help you reexamine the relationship and deal with your guilt in a healthy way. Going through therapy will also make you a better partner for the next person that comes into your life.
To find out more about how counseling can help you process the end of a relationship, please reach out to us.