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Relationship Uncertainty: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Relationship Uncertainty

Listen to the Wisdom of Your Body

Many people moved out of their heads and into their bodies.

  • Getting still and quiet and dropping into what my body is feeling.
  • Listen to your intuition.
  • Trusting myself– that I will know when it’s truly time to end it.
  • Listening to my inner voice in silence. It screamed, “Get the hell out of here!”
  • Noticing how thoughts of staying/going feel in my body rather than over-intellectualizing.
  • Tuning into my higher self. The best choice does not require self-abandonment.
  • The feeling of relief after making the decision. That told me that I was making the right decision.
  • Getting back in touch with myself through meditation and yoga so that fear and emotions aren’t running the show.
  • Exercise and therapy.
  • Listening to my gut.

Focus on “Future You”

Some people imagined the next chapters of their stories and used that to guide them.

  • I imagined myself 5 years in the future and asked, “Do I want the same life for myself then?”
  • “Do I see a future with this person?” I didn’t so I ended my 4-year relationship a few months ago.
  • I thought about where I wanted to be in five years. Still, stuck at the crossroads?
  • I asked myself, “Would your future self say that you upheld your values?”
  • I tried to envision myself 5 or 10 years down the road with my decision.

Attend to Alarm Clock Moments

A number of people described a moment or incident that created clarity.

  • The way I was treated became unbearable and I was no longer able to justify it to myself.
  • Driving to his place, realizing I didn’t want to spend more than 30 minutes alone with him.
  • Getting pregnant shook me awake. I couldn’t set a good example and raise a human with that man.
  • Asking for help during the most vulnerable time but called selfish because I asked.
  • I just ended a 5-year relationship after a year of ambivalence. Being ambivalent for so long was the sign I should go.

Related: What To Do If You Have An Unhappy Marriage But Are Afraid To Leave

Lean on People You Trust

Several people talked about the people who were in their corner, holding up mirrors so they could understand themselves more deeply.

  • My therapists and friends asking me about my deadline, which gave me clarity that it was time to move on.
  • A friend asked, “On your best day with him, how do you feel about yourself?”
  • I asked my sister for an outside perspective. Sometimes I can’t see the forest.
  • I listened to advice from people whose relationships I admired.

Be Diligent

Some people found it helpful to be methodical and determined.

  • Being engaged in learning more.
  • Knowing I’ve done everything I can.
  • Turning every stone (this process takes time).

Be Patient

Some people described letting go of the need for control and allowing the confusion to work its way through them.

  • Time.
  • Sitting with myself, taking as much time as I need, journaling.
  • Reflecting on my quick impulse to want to leave and how I got to the crossroads.
  • The third option: consciously deciding not to decide. The answer shows up when ready.
  • Radical acceptance of the ambivalence and therapy to explore what’s behind it.
  • Using a dialectic approach. I feel X and I also feel Y.
  • We will only leave when the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving.

Related: How to Leave A Partner Who Still Loves You: 3 Steps To Minimize The Pain

Honor the Relationship Between You and You

For some people, it was becoming aware of the ways in which they had abandoned themselves that helped them make a decision.

  • Realizing that I was ashamed of still being with someone who I knew wasn’t for me.
  • Realizing I wasn’t being the authentic version of myself and I couldn’t live a discount version of my life.
  • I chose to really live and feel the pain instead of living my survival story and suffering in a toxic relationship.
  • Putting myself first.
  • Being OK and not guilty with being self-focused with decisions during this time.
  • I left an 8-year relationship and said, “You’ve got one of two choices, stay or go and start over.” It was the hardest decision, but it was ultimately the best choice, and my happiness/mental health mattered more.
  • Actually listening to myself and what I wanted instead of listening to others’ opinions.
  • If it’s not honoring myself, or if it’s no longer a hell yes, it’s a no.
  • Instead of focusing on “what ifs,” I focus on my needs TODAY.
  • In French, we say “mieux seul que mal accompagne,” better alone than in bad company.
Relationship Uncertainty: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
relationship uncertainty
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Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD

Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, a licensed clinical psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, a regular contributor at Psychology Today, a popular resource on Instagram. the creator and leader of the Intimate Relationships 101 E-course, the host of the Reimagining Love podcast, and the author of Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want (February 2, 2020; New Harbinger) and Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want (2017; New Harbinger), which was featured on the TODAY show. She is an international speaker and teacher whose work has been featured on six continents. You can visit her online at Author posts