The Best Ways You Can Leave Your Bad Relationship (the Right Way)

E.B. Johnson

Not every relationship stands the test of time. Some partners are for a season or an age. Things change and people change too. The person we fall in love with is not always the person we end up committed to. Be honest when you aren’t getting what you want, or you’re attached to someone who can’t hold space for your needs. The right love is out there for you, but it asks that you let go of the wrong love first. Is it time to breakup with your partner? Do it the right way and exit with grace.

Knowing when a relationship is over.

Is your relationship over? There are concrete signs that always point us to the truth, but understanding them usually requires that we first listen to the subconscious thoughts (and the conscious reality) that are everywhere around us. Don’t settle for cheating or a partner that isn’t going the same direction. Know what you want and know when your partnership has ended.

They can’t stop cheating

Cheaters don’t make excellent partners, especially not to those spouses who crave monogamy. When someone cheats, they disrespect the other person in a relationship. But what’s worse, they show a total disregard for the hopes and happiness of the other person. To cheat is to put your own needs and gratifications before the person you’ve committed to honoring and respecting. When someone can’t stop cheating, it’s a sure-fire sign that your relationship with them is no longer a priority.

You want different things

Although we imagine that getting into a relationship sets us up for closeness and success, that’s simply not the truth. Some couples get together without ever realizing that they don’t want the same things. One partner wants a big family, and the other wants a vasectomy. Your spouse craves travel, but you’re ready for a home in the suburbs. These aren’t just differences in opinion. They’re differences in life milestones that will set you up for disaster if not honestly addressed.

There’s been a major drift

While we may love our partners deeply and authentically, change is an inevitable part of every relationship path. We change as individuals, and that changes who we are in our relationships. Our partners undergo similar changes. And that’s when the drifts and divides can occur. The person you begin your relationship journey with is not always the person you stand next to after a while. When those drifts become too big? That’s when we can find ourselves failing and at-odds.

It’s a toxic or abusive space

Is your partner toxic or heinous in the way they behave toward you (or others)? Do they abuse you emotionally or mentally? Do they hit you or terrorize you? Toxic and abusive relationships are always a reason to leave. You’re not going to “change them” by loving them harder. Your loyalty will mean little the next time you anger or disappoint them. Don’t make excuses for someone who makes your life hell. Give yourself permission to leave.

You’re both going downhill

We like to imagine that falling in love makes us better people — but that’s simply not reality. Some people are made worse for being in relationships with one another. They let themselves go, stop caring for their bodies. Some can even lose their integrity and their sense of self entirely. If you’re making one another worse, more toxic versions of yourselves, then you have to face fact. Both of you would be better off on your own…or with other people.

They aren’t willing to grow up

Are you dealing with a mentally or emotionally immature partner? Maybe they can’t stop with the dramatic antics and public displays. Or perhaps they are just still in the throes of self-centered behavior. A partner who isn’t willing to grow up is no partner at all. They’re adult children who demand daily sacrifices from partners who become responsible for meeting all their internal (an external) needs.

How to leave a relationship the right way.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to leave a relationship that’s run its course. When we don’t spend time planning and committing, we end up with half-cocked attempts to end it that blow up in our face. Get crystal clear on how you’re feeling and what you really want, then make a plan and sit your partner down. Embrace the end with mindfulness and intention — but don’t allow yourselves to backslide or go back to those old, familiar places.

1. Get crystal clear on reality

The biggest mistake a lot of people make in ending their relationships is a lack of processing and planning. A lot of people pull the breakup trigger out of the blue. They make up their minds one day and decide to sever ties. The abrupt ending (understandably) causes even more chaos and upset. In order for us to avoid this major dust-up, we have to first focus on our own experience and perception. What is going wrong and why do we believe that it cannot be changed?

Before you take any action — or bring your partner into the mix — you need to get crystal clear on your reality and what you want to do. Ask yourself some serious questions. What do you really want? What are you not getting? Is this relationship worth changing or saving at all?

You need to be entirely sure of your position and what you want to do. That’s the starting point of walking away, and the primary way you collect your thoughts and make a plan. Being sure of your position is a must, because there’s no going back. Once you pull the plug on your relationship, it is irreversibly changed. Getting back together is not the path to seek. Instead, know whether the challenges you face are insurmountable. Are the differences too great? Is the pain growing? Then it’s time for you to acknowledge it, accept it, and prepare yourself to walk away.

2. Make your plan and commit

Once you understand your truth, you can make a breakup plan and realistically plot your way out of the relationship. For those in toxic or abusive partnerships, this becomes the point at which you plan your escape. Reach out to friends and family for help, get them to store money or important documents for you (away from the home you share with your abusive partner). Getting out — for you — doesn’t include a heart-to-heart. It is based around moving with urgency and opportunity.

For everyone else, we have to realistically plot a way forward before we spring the end of the relationship on our partners. That’s saying we have to be sure of what we plan to next. Know how you’re going to support yourself, where you’re going to live, what your life is going to look like. This is the stage at which you must commit. Are you really ready to end this partnership? If your partner pulls the trigger immediately, do you know what steps come next? You’re the only person who can make this plan, as you’re the only person who really knows what resources you have.

3. Have a serious conversation

Once you’re clear on what you want, and you’ve made a plan, it’s time to sit your partner down and have a serious conversation. This only applies to those who are safe with their partners, as those in toxic and abusive relationships don’t have the ability to safely open up to their partners in a such a way. For everyone else, though, communication is how we navigate the tricky waters of calling it quits. Your partner deserves to know your reasons for walking away, and they deserve to know why you are no longer pursuing a commitment with them or the path that they’re on.

Pick a time and place in which you are both safe and comfortable. This is going to be a hard moment, with hard words and even harder emotions. Both of you need space and privacy to express those things. And you need to be in a place in which you can both have space question and communicate across what’s going on.

Be respectful. Be compassionate. If you’ve really decided that this is the end, there’s no point in being accusatory or inflammatory. Don’t call them names and don’t try to force an accountability they aren’t willing to give. Explain how you’re feeling and give factual examples. Focus as much as possible on your own experience and leave them out of it as much as possible. Let them know that the challenges are too great or the divides too wide. Describe your plans for the next chapter and know that this could wind down into a series of tough conversations.

Putting it all together…

Has your relationship finally come to an end? Partners who can’t honor and respect us often force us to make the ultimate choice. There’s a right way and a wrong way to break off a relationship, though. There must be clarity and commitment, but there must also be a time for process and planning. You’ve got to sit your partner down and explain what’s going on, while explaining the choice that you’ve made.

Stop holding on to relationships that dry you up or burn you out. Life was meant to be filled with love, and we were meant to experience that love with the people who understand and accept us as we are. If you’re serious about finding a love that helps to fill you up from the inside out, you have to make space for it in your life. Let go of those partnerships that hurt you so you can find ones that help to heal the wounds left behind. Put yourself on a path to love by making the hard choices and sticking to them.

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Writer. Host. Certified coach. Host of the Practical Growth Pod. Master Practitioner NLP. Get all my books and resources at the link below.

Pelham, AL

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