Relationship Advice: How to know when to leave a relationship

If you’re fortunate, like I have been, you will get the chance to spend some of your time with some pretty amazing people.  You’ll get to learn new jokes, see what someone else does in the bathroom, hear what’s truly in another person’s heart, have some wild sex, and come to know yourself quite well in the process as well.  There are a whole host of reasons why it’s great to have a relationship with another person.  If you’re anything like me you might have ALSO found yourself at that place in a relationship where you wondered whether or not it was time to leave.  How do you know when it’s time to go, and how do you follow through on such a decision?

It’s next to impossible to consider your relationship objectively – and when you DO try to analyze your relationship you’re definitely going to experience the most major case of “logical mind takedown” you’ve ever experienced.  You may recall from our discussion of learning how to find and follow your intuition that your logical mind is great at analyzing the facts of a situation, but when it comes to major decisions your much better served by a process that allows your WHOLE self to take part.  The logical mind can often throw a wrench in the works.  It’ll go something like this (internally):

Whole self:  This relationship just feels wrong.  It’s time to go.  I’m going.

Logical Mind:  Wha-wha-wait a minute!  But I love this person!  There are so many good things about them.  But I’m miserable.  I’m not happy.  I want to leave.  I deserve to be in a better relationship.  But maybe this will work out?  Maybe we’ll finally find happiness together, like when we first started dating?  There are so many things this person adds to my life….(voice trails off endlessly)

Whole self:  Hello?  Anybody listening?  Hello?

If you were ever in this situation, you probably just kept right on keeping on in that relationship, at least until the next round.  This degree of confusion is not conducive to decision-making, until you’re at the end of your rope and you just MAKE a decision to be done with it.  In the meantime it’s ups and downs and ups and downs and, in my opinion, a lot of time WASTED.  Not utterly wasted if there are still some good things about your relationship – but mostly wasted.  Wasted in the sense that there are so many other things you could have been doing with your time – primarily devoting your energy to living the kind of life that you want to live and doing things that FILL YOU UP.  In my coaching work with people, we talk about ways that you can actually take control over this dynamic in your relationship, with exercises that can give you certainty and clarity about how things are going and what kind of potential really exists with your partner.  In my experience, the cycles of uncertainty in a bad relationship are ultimately draining.  Very.  Draining.

OK – list interlude.  Here are some of the warning signs of a relationship you shouldn’t be in any longer:

  1. Your partner tells you that you should love them more. Loving someone, in and of itself, should be enough.
  2. You’re waiting for your partner to change. If you find yourself saying something to yourself like “once they see how much their behavior hurts me” – for the 50th time – then it’s time to go.
  3. Your partner is waiting for YOU to change. Ok – you all know that I am a strong believer in our ability to change for the better.  So changes in you and changes in your partner are definitely POSSIBLE (as long as you or your partner is self-aware and WANTS to change).  However, if you can’t accept your partner as they are right now, then you’re not in love with your partner – you’re in love with the idea of your partner – either who they once were, or who you want them to be.  The song goes “Love the one you’re with” – not “love the idea of what you’d really like the one you’re with to be” – it doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?
  4. There’s always tension between the two of you. You and your partner should THRIVE in each other’s presence – or, at a minimum, you shouldn’t be getting in each other’s way.  If the tension between the two of you keeps you from being spontaneous or makes you second-guess yourself, then it’s time to either deal with it (once and for all) or move on.
  5. You’re always wondering whether or not you should really be with this person.   Listen:  it’s your intuition calling!  If you’re always questioning your relationship, then there are two things going on – either you don’t know yourself well enough to know whether or not you should be in your current relationship, or you DO know yourself well enough to know whether or not you should be in your current relationship.  In either case, the answer is the same (though the reasoning is different) – it’s time to go.
  6. Your relationship feels insecure.  You or your partner experience lots of jealousy. Trust is one of the key elements in a good relationship.  Now I’m going to assume here that you or your partner wouldn’t actually DO anything to undermine your relationship.  So, if you wouldn’t, where is that feeling coming from?  If you’ve experienced some major betrayal in your life, make sure you spend some time dealing with your trust issues.  If you don’t have “general trust issues”, then your uneasiness is probably rooted in your intuition telling you that the situation just isn’t right.  Listen to your intuition, and leave. (also see my article on Overcoming Jealousy in a Relationship)
  7. You’re always arguing. In a relationship, a certain amount of arguing is normal.  Arguing all the time is NOT normal.  If you’re always in a state of conflict, well, that’s definitely ONE way of relating to another person, but I wouldn’t want to base a relationship on that.
  8. It’s your job to fix your partner’s life. Listen, the only way a relationship is going to work is if the two people are able to take care of their own shit.  Asking for help every so often is one thing.  Offering your help every so often is great!  However, most real change/healing comes from within – and that’s not something you can do for anyone else, or that they can do for you.
  9. You feel like crying all the time – and I’m not talking about tears of joy. Do I really need to say anything else about that?
  10. You experience your own worst qualities more often than your best qualities. The dynamics of a relationship that just isn’t right can dig deep into the pit of our personal dysfunction and unearth all sorts of nastiness.  You’ll say things you regret, you’ll lash out at the other person, you’ll do things that embarrass you in retrospect.  At a minimum you shouldn’t be in that relationship because you need to spend some time alone getting your shit together – if the relationship dynamic constantly brings out the worst in you, though…what are you waiting for?
  11. You and your partner are not interested in seeking the highest good for each other. This has to be a two-way street.  And it can’t be your idea about what’s best for the other person – it has to be their idea.  Can you accept their idea about what’s best for them?  If not, see #3.

I developed this list by experiencing every one of these items – multiple times, in some cases.  Also, this is just my “Top 11″ – there are other items possible – and I’d LOVE to hear from you with additions in the comments!

So, let’s say that your relationship maybe, just maybe, fits a few of those items.  Why leave?  Why not stick it out?  Why not try to make it better?

note: sometimes trying to stick it out IS the right thing to do.  As I mentioned earlier, it takes TWO people who really are committed to the long process of changing a relationship for the better.

First, let me say that there are LOTS of people out there.  LOTS.  And out of the billions of people on the planet, your best chances of meeting one of the thousands who would be perfect for you is to be out there, in the world, thriving and doing what you love.  Following your passion.  Shining for the rest of the world to see.  You will attract the right people to you – and they will probably be people who are ALSO being true to themselves.  You’ll have the best chance of having a successful relationship with one of those people.

There is nothing WRONG with your current partner.  The only thing that’s “wrong” is that they aren’t right for you.  So there is no judgement implied in saying that it’s “time to go” – it doesn’t have anything to do with the other person.  It has to do with you, and honoring the way you feel.

And ultimately it’s honoring the way you feel, honoring your intuition, honoring yourself – those are the reasons that you should leave a relationship when it’s time to leave.  Even in your moments of fear, fear of being alone, fear of the unknown, fear of hurting another person, you will feel the STRENGTH of acting in accord with the core of your being.  That strength will carry you, will boost you through the turmoil of ending a relationship and re-embarking on your personal journey.

When I contemplated ending my last relationship I was frightened…terrified, really.  For the reasons listed above, and then some.  Then, one day we were sitting in a couples counseling session after months of conflict.  Suddenly it was just clear to me – the whole thing just wasn’t right – for me.  It wasn’t about the other person, it was just about honoring what I needed all along.  I loved this other person (and I loved myself), and I could see, as plain as day, that the loving act was to leave – not to stay.  So I just did it, right there.  The fear I felt vanished, and I experienced the most profound mix of sadness and joy that I had probably ever felt up until then.

“How to leave” is probably best saved for another post.  My advice is to be kind, to be loving, and to let the other person know that your decision isn’t about them – it’s just about honoring what you know is right for you.  Acknowledge the way the other person feels, and tell them how much you care about them, how much you don’t want to hurt them.  It is, after all, your caring for them as well as your caring for yourself that makes leaving the relationship so important.  There’s a situation out there that’s better for BOTH of you.  Then I also think it makes sense to have some separation – not total separation, unless that’s what one of you needs – but definitely enough separation for you to have some time alone, and some time with friends who can help support you in the decision that you just made.  Do things that make you happy, that make you feel the most connection with who you are and what you came to this planet to do.

I am so grateful for all of the relationships that I’ve had – they prepared me for the right relationship, which I was fortunate to find 3 years ago.  And I can tell you that the right relationship will feel right to you, in all respects.  Your logical mind might still play its games with you, but your intuition, your heart, will NEVER question the situation.  That’s how you’ll know when your relationship is really “right”.  I learned such valuable lessons – but at the same time, when I look back I realize that my own fears often kept me from ending relationships when it would have been appropriate.  Ultimately, whatever you do is “right” – but the sooner you honor your intuition and pursue the things and people in life that give you the most joy, that make you the most “you”, the sooner you will get rid of all that conflict and have room in your life for true love, true inspiration, and true enthusiasm for every moment you get to enjoy in this life of yours.

One last note – please DO comment below if you’re comfortable with that.  I reply to many people off-line as well (instead of here) if you’re looking for some feedback on your situation.

Click here if you want help right now with your situation.


  1. I’ve been in the throws of gut-wrenching agony over deciding to get my own apartment and, essentially, leave my current relationship. Today was the day I finally had to take a real step, writing that deposit check, which I’ve been expert at putting off for months now. I am absolutely terrified in the way that you feel when you go over a big bump in the road–like my stomach is going to fall out from the bottom of me. I still haven’t told my partner, although he knows it’s coming–it has been for a long time, too long. He is a dear person and I dread not being with him as much as I long to wake up alone right now. Thank you for the encouraging words–it was exactly the reminder that I needed today to have faith that even though my gut is ready to jump out of my body now, it was also warning me of danger only a couple of months into the relationship when it told me that something just wasn’t right. I must trust that even though it will cause him pain, it is the most loving thing for both of us. Your words were just the ones I needed today.

    Thank you

  2. Hi Stella,

    I’m glad that my words offered you comfort and support during a tough decision. From your brief description, I get the sense that once the immediate pain subsides your partner will probably realize the wisdom of your decision.

    Take care, keep me posted, and yes, have faith!

  3. I want to thank you for the advice on when to leave your relationship. It truly gave me a basis to act upon. I have experienced some of these things in the past, but there’s something about reading it in black and white on paper from another source.

    Thanks again!

  4. Thank u sir for the great advice. I like Stella am agonizing as well over the decision I am about to make. But I know its right. Your advice was very very helpful

    Thank you

  5. Thankyou Neil, I have been confused for a longtime, and fearful. I have to take the hard step and follow my instincts – not take second best and just DO IT!Number 4, number 5, bits of number 6…why have I been hesitating. I will take strength from your remarks. Jan

  6. I’m finding myself in the worst situation of my life at the moment. I’ve been with my girlfriend for seven years, and we’ve been living together in my apartment for the past six years. For the last couple of years, I’ve had a nagging sensation in my stomach that this just isn’t right for me, but because she’s living in my apartment, I’ve always pushed the thought aside thinking that I couldn’t just throw her out.

    For the past 6-8 months I’ve had a feeling that it was indeed over, but my fear of being alone end my fear of hurting her has stopped from ending it. I still really love her, and I know that she also loves me a lot… Basically, my thoughts and feelings have been changing like tidal waves for the past six months: I suddenly realise that we both need to leave this relationship, but the closer I get to actually breaking up with her, the more my memories come rolling up on me, and I start to love her even more and think that I can’t possibly leave her.

    It is eating me up from inside, and I can’t concentrate on anything but our miserable situation. I can’t really take it any longer, and I’m trying to gather the courage to do it… but now it’s almost christmas, and I don’t want to put her on the street just two weeks before christmas eve.

    It’s a really bad situation, and I’m feeling like shit at the moment… but your article was a small light in the dark for me. Most of the other artiles on the web talk about how you should always try to find some way of staying together, but sometimes perhaps that’s just not the right solution…

    So thank you for your thoughts Neil!

  7. I know this blog was probably written awhile ago, but after reading it…I feel like I am not really alone. I recently decided to leave my bf of several years. I haven’t told him and I feel anxious, scared, and terrified really. Thanks for your blog. I will refer to it :)

  8. Louis, Jan, Martin, Anna –

    I’m glad that you’ve found these thoughts to be helpful for you. Coming to terms with how you honestly feel about your relationship can be HARD – but you are most definitely not alone.

    And the light at the end of the tunnel is that you are taking the steps that you need to take to honor what’s best for YOU in your life. Those are the actions that will eventually attract the right partner.

    I hope all is well with you.

  9. Martin –

    I’m probably going to end up writing more about this (i.e. the “how to do it when it’s time to do it”) – but it sounds to me like you have found some clarity about how you feel.

    While you struggle with the “how” (if you are, indeed, still struggling) – make sure that you start taking some time to focus on things in your own life that you feel positive about, that make you feel like a stronger, creative human being. That will help feed the inner strength that it will take to do whatever you ultimately decide to do.

  10. Thank you for that article.. it was interesting to read while thinking about my own relationship. I love my boyfriend and felt very happy with him (aside from the fact that we fight a lot. our personalities are exactly the same, so we often butt heads)…until I met a new coworker who made me feel different. Nothing ever happened with this coworker, but I feel that the fact that I am still thinking about him is a sign that I may not be as in love with my boyfriend as I once thought.

    This is all very sad and confusing for me… but hopefully I can find some clarity after taking your advice into consideration.


  11. I have been going through the roller coaster of ups and downs about my relationship for at least 3 or 4 years now. It’s very exhausting and I feel hopeless. My partner & I get along great and are very compatible in every way except one – we don’t have sex and I am not sexually attracted to my partner. We’ve been together for 8 years and I became aware of the problem within the first six months. My partner has been the most supportive, Loving, generous, organized and “together” person I have ever been involved with & we love each other deeply. Unfortunately the lack of sexual enjoyment or satisfaction is overwhelming and at times seems to suck all the joy from my existence. We’re both aware of the problem, and are trying to work on it, but I’m unable to be honest because of my overwhelming terror of losing the most important person in my life. I know this can’t go on, but I’m too scared to end it. My partner has been my only support in hard times, and living without sex seems to be far less frightening than being alone in the world. Yet, every time I see a happy couple who are obviously passionate to one another, I feel such pain and lack and feel like part of me is dying inside. Your posting, is like many others and obviously gives sensible advice, but I’m not able to take the advice, because I’m not strong enough. I wish I was, but I don’t know how to get there.

  12. Thanks Neil,

    I have been on a roller coaster ride for 7 yrs now. Every year I mark the calander and say next yr. I will feel different, well after 8 months of couples therapy, I do not feel better. The only thing is financially I really need his help, I made stupid mistakes to force myself to make it work with him like buying a house in my name but knowing that I would need his monthly contribution. I can’t do it anymore, the fear has held me for so long. Now I have asked him to leave and he will in one month but in the meantime he is pulling out all the stops to get me to reconcile. I just need so works of encouragment. I can do it. I will not fall back into the pattern…


  13. Hi Neil

    I wish I had found this website years ago…I am in a 20yr relationship and have spent the last 9 or 10, knowing what to do, but crippling myself with constant contadictions, unable to make a decision and keep to it.

    I know that I love my partner, but I fell out of love with him quite a while ago, mostly when he refused to acknowledge or apologise for his condecending, rude and bullying behaviour towards me, my friends and family.

    I am now so unhappy, constantly going around in circles and completely drained. Pushing friends away and avoiding things I love to do because I am embarassed to admit that I am still unhappy, I have no energy and hate myself for settling for a sad, lonely life.

    I have never been interested in the blame game, and although I have come to the conclusion that the individual incidences no longer matter, what matters is that I am unhappy and I do not get anything out of the relationship.

    Ultimatley, it is very simple, I am unhappy and have been for a long time and he is happy with doing what he can to keep me in the relationship, anything that is aside from embrace who I am…bottom line, he is not right for me.

    I have to find the courage to tell him, but every time I get close, he just kills me with kindness, I feel like I am making mountains out of molehills, the edges blur and I feel so mean that I pull back.

    Every bone in my body is telling me to leave, reinforcing it every day in everything I do. I can’t think of anything else, it invades everything I do.

    Why can’t I leave?


  14. Thank you for this article. I have read it several times in the past two weeks. I have been with the same girl for a year and a half. I am in my twenties and it is the longest relationship I have ever been in. I felt out of place during most of the relationship. It is hard to explain, but I have a feeling you know what I mean. It seems since the start, I drifted further and further away from my true self. All my dreams and goals slowly fazed out. I went through periods of intense depression. She is a bit younger than me, and it took a while for our maturity levels to equal out. Tonight while we were bickering over something trivial I blurted out, “I don’t want to date you anymore.” It surprised me as it came out, but it did. We talked for a while and I struggled to commit to ending it FOREVER. It is something that I think about daily, but I have never ended a relationship before and I have a tendency to stay in bad relationships past their due date.

    The truth is, I still don’t know what the RIGHT decision for me or her or us is. I know that I’m not happy in my life, or not as happy as I could or should be. This may or may not be directly related to her. However, I’ve tried a lot of different approaches to finding the happiness and abundance of energy I once had in my life–nothing seemed to work. At this point, I am willing to give up just about anything. I really want a change. I feel like just letting things go and letting my true self taking form. I have been doing a lot of meditation and it has helped calm my fearful mind.

    I am scared of being alone, but I am more scared of continuing to live an unfulfilled lifestyle. A lot of the points in your article hit home. I also read your other article about when you know you are in the right relationship. Very few of those things hit home. If it weren’t for your articles I’d probably still be running the same cyclical thoughts through my head, again and again.

    Just give in and let go sometimes. The way I see it, you can’t break what isn’t solid…And since my heart is comprised of squishy flesh and blood, it can take a pounding every once in a while.

  15. I really appreciate your post. We’ve been married for a year (in four days, to be exact) and together for 7. It breaks my heart to end this, it feels like so much wasted time – but I don’t want to waste anymore time being hurt and depressed. I know it is an unhealthy relationship and I am preparing myself for actually, finally, really leaving him. One of the hardest parts for me about following through with my decision (I’ve almost left at least 3 times) is that he makes it as hard as possible to leave. I rent the house from my dad, and don’t want to involve my dad in any breakup drama, but he refuses to leave. He says he’ll leave when he is “damn well ready to – I pay rent too!”. I don’y know the legal issue, as to whether I can kick him out (I am the only one who signed the contract on the lease, but we are married) or f I should just leave to a friends or something until he realizes it’s really over. Please help! You had mentioned a more detailed “how to” breakup post – any advice yet? Thanks so much!

  16. I have struggled with this for months. I substitue teach to spend more time with our kids and take classes at the local university. My daughter is from my first marriage. Our son is from this relationship.

    I have two huge issues that I don’t know how to deal with … Being a substitute is basically like being unemployed. Not considered stable enough to get an apartment or loan. So I can’t afford for my daughter and I to leave. Second – I can’t bear the thought of waking up without seeing my sons smiling face. I knew when I left my first husband he wouldn’t want custody and I’d never have to share my daughter. I was correct. I know I will have to share here and can’t bear the thought of being without my son. My husband is quite “privledged” so to say. Finacially VERY stable, respected family in the community, owns his own family business. But he controls everything in our house and has point blank told me my time is “optional.” “Optional” what a thing to say to a mom hey?!

    Anyway, I feel as though if he would sit long enough and perhaps FACE some of our issues we might be able to resolve some of them. He however, runs instead of facing anything. This is his third marriage and I have started to believe perhaps he runs until the damage is so severe it can’t be repaired. Your article helped somewhat, but perhaps I am just not ready yet to throw in the towel as it didn’t hit me like THIS IS WHAT I NEED TO DO! I just don’t know what my next step should be. :'(

  17. Hi Neil,
    I have been going back and forth for so long that I am seasick. Your words have cut through all the BS, the emotional trauma, the guilt, the searching for ‘it’, the ultimate truth, the endless procrastination…your words have given me the OK to feel the way I feel and allowed me to trust and have faith in what I have known for a very long time…10 years of wasted time…thank you.

  18. Neil, Thank you for this article. Two days ago I told my BF of 4 years that it’s time to part. This is not the first time this has happened, and like usually, he is trying to convince me that we can get through this. But reading articles like your has helped me see things a little clearer. While in my relationship I have wanted nothing but out, then once out, I want nothing buy back in. I am trying to remind myself this time that there are reasons for leaving, of which, the most important is the loss of interest. This past year has been like living with a roommate that I don’t get along with all the time. I have no doubt there are fixable things within out coupling, but there are other things that are not. For at least 3 years I have not felt enough compatibility between us, and have thought “If this really is right, then shouldn’t I feel it?”
    It is time to move on, thought I am very scared. I would like to thank you and encourage other to keep leaving posts here. It helps to know you are not alone.

    • @Bodene I’m glad that you found this article to be helpful for you, and I really hope that your fear has yielded to growth and love in your life. Did you stay apart? Did you get back together? I appreciate your encouraging others to leave comments here – and in the spirit of “you are not alone” I’m actually approving a whole backlog of comments.

      You all are most definitely not alone.

  19. I have been with my current partner (fiance) for just over 6 years and we have three young children together, for the past few years it we’ve drifted apart. I keep trying and trying to get him to change. Not his whole self but just a few things and then our relationship would be so much better. Just little things like him coming to the table to eat dinner with us instead of in front of the tv, I’m also the type of person who loves getting out of the house (even more so now that I’m a stay at home mother) and go for walks, go on long drives, head down to the beach or a local park for a few hours and have a picnic. I also enjoy quality time with my family maybe playing cards or a board game, sitting outside on a hot Summer’s night just talking. My fiance prefers to just sit in front of the tv or play his Playstation. I am forever asking if he’d like to come along to places with me and the kids but its always the same answer from him “I just wanna relax, I work all week” and when I try and meet him half way and suggest we make time as a family and as a couple maybe once a month he just won’t budge. The thing is HE says he’s happy with things. Maybe because he gets what he wants. If he doesn’t want to go anywhere he doesn’t have to, if he wants to stay at home all day (even on special occasions such as Christmas or Mother’s Day or whatever) he can. I have been trying to decide weather or not its the right thing for us to break up, I keep thinking perhaps I’m selfish, maybe I should just accept things as they are, after all, maybe things aren’t as bad as I seem and there are people out there in far worse situations (domestic violence for example) I have a roof over my head and the kids have both parents together. But another part of me isn’t so sure. I do love this man,he IS the father of my children afterall, but I don’t know if love alone is enough to stay with him. We argue quite a bit about the same issues and they never get resolved.

    Another reason I’m not sure about leaving is when I’ve told him I’m not happy and thinking about leaving he’s told me he’d want nothing to do with me and wouldn’t see his kids.

    • @Cass Thank you for your thoughtful and honest comment. A few quick thoughts, and a question.

      First it sounds like you are doing a really good job of taking your time with this decision. Especially when there are children involved I believe that it’s important to give a relationship a fair shake. After all, it’s love that brought the two of you together, has kept you together, and is responsible for your three children. That love CAN be a solid base for your relationship to grow. It just sounds like the two of you are…stuck.

      Now of course all I know is what you’ve told me here, but your fiance appears to be dealing, on some level, with something really “big”. Or something that he, at least, perceives to be really big. Otherwise, why would he engage in the avoidance behaviors that you describe (tv/playstation as an example)?

      You said:
      “Another reason I’m not sure about leaving is when I’ve told him I’m not happy and thinking about leaving he’s told me he’d want nothing to do with me and wouldn’t see his kids.”

      I can see why that would be really painful to hear. And maybe it is indicative of some larger reason why you should leave. On the surface, though, it sounds to me like the reaction of someone who’s actually quite fearful about the potential for your leaving. “Nothing to do with you, and wouldn’t see the kids” – sounds a lot like spending an extensive dinnertime in front of the TV, doesn’t it? :)

      Ideally you can both participate in a discussion about your “stuckness” – and get unstuck. You’d hear what’s REALLY going on with him, and he’d get a chance to hear what’s really going on with you. And by “really” I’m not talking about “I’m really sick of you watching tv” – I’m talking about the desires and fears within you – in other words, the things that brought you together (desires) and the things that are keeping you apart (fears). Now it IS possible that if you just focused on your own development, i.e. getting emotionally unstuck, that your change would initiate change on his part. In either case, though, my *suggestion* (if you were looking for one) would be to get unstuck first, before you make any big decisions about what’s right for your relationship.

      My guess is that if your fiancé could give a voice to what he really wants in your relationship, and get a taste for the love that you feel for him, that he could see it as a source of strength for dealing with whatever has gotten him into avoidance mode.

      I’m actually in the process of getting some training to help people work through these situations with their partners, so please feel free to contact me if you’re interested in chatting further. Thanks again for your open and honest comment.

  20. I am on the other side of the fence. I am trying to understand why my wife has walked out on me after 15years together. I was not abusive, she wanted for nothing and I know she loves me dearly. I know we had our differences but right now I am thinking she is a coward for running away and not even trying to discuss what is happening. Todays society is so disposable. If something is broken we would rather throw it out and buy a new one then trying to repair what we have and making it stronger and better.

    • @Paul – That does sound like a difficult situation to go through. In fact I’m even having some realizations about how “fixing” might be possible…I suppose you could say that I’m more hopeful these days. I hope that you can find some answers, or at least some solace in knowing that a whole universe has opened up in front of you, different than what you imagined to be possible.

      Perhaps by thinking about your differences, that will be the route to your developing some more understanding of yourself in relationships, and how to change. Change in you will have an effect on all your relationships…generally for the better, if it’s movement towards understanding (and acceptance).

  21. this post made me realize what i had known deep down for months, but had been afraid to actually do.

    2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9.

    i was trying to summon up the strength to end a relationship… and reading the list of 11 pushed me over the edge. i left someone with whom the highs were the highest i’ve ever known, and the lows were the lowest. it was very confusing to me: i felt miserable with her more often than not, yet on some days here and there, she had the capacity to make me unbelievably happy. UNBELIEVABLY happy.

    now that i am single again, i am still in love with her, but feel more myself without her around.

    your post really helped. i could especially relate to dialogue of the inner mind.

    thank you.

    • @Jake – I can completely relate to what you wrote. Being more yourself will, ultimately, give you the recipe for success in any relationship, I think – whether this one happens to continue, or you find someone new.

  22. i have a different situation to some of the other people on here i have a daughter and im not happy in the 6 year relationship im in and havent been for some while , my partner looks into my eyes and says she dont love me anymore, it hurts but she said it so many times i have become numb to the words but it has come to a point in my life where i have discoverd more about myself and i havent got a back bone! she tells me to leave so i pack my things and about to leave and she crys and say i want you to stay im a soft hearted person dont like seeing people unhappy but thinks of others before myself, i feel i would be happyer on my own but find it hard to leave my daughter because once i actually left and went to a friends and my partners said if i dont come back i could never see my daughter again and i wouldnt like to drag my daughter through court and so forth as shes only 2, im also a bisexual and have fallen for someone, i havent cheated on my partner but feel i could be happyer around this other person as i have been so unhappy with my partner for about a year and a half but it easy to keep the peice for my daughters sake but i now want to go and enjoy life im 22 years of age and feel 50, help please if you can haha many thanks

    • Hi Simon,

      Thanks for writing – I hope that it helps a bit to have shared your situation here.

      There are some questions that you should ask yourself before you *really* leave. You say that you think of others before yourself, but have you, truly, in this situation?

      • Have you done everything you can to help your partner feel your commitment to the relationship, so that she’s absolutely certain of it’s longevity?
      • Have you been creative, trying to bring variety and spice at levels your partner has never known?
      • Have you made your partner feel like there’s no one else in the world that mattered?
      • Have you filled your partner up with unconditional I-love-you-no-matter-what?
      • Have you found ways that you and your partner can consistently grow, together?
      • Have you explored avenues of contribution, so that you and your partner could together give to the world around you?

      Unless you can answer “yes, at 100%” to all these questions, then there’s hope for your relationship. But the only way that you would know is if you gave that to your relationship, committed at least, say, 90 days to making it happen. Then see how you and your partner feel.

      I’m all for people doing what’s best for themselves – but especially considering that you have a daughter, you have to weigh carefully the lessons that you’ll be teaching her about relationships.

      It doesn’t matter whether or not your partner commits to doing the same – it’s guaranteed that if you change who you are in the relationship, the relationship itself will also change. And then, after the “trial period” – at least you can make a clearer decision. But you can’t say that you’ve given it your all unless you truly have.

      Good luck, and please let me know if you have any other questions. Or how it all works out. All my best to you in this tough time.

  23. i have justread through cass views on her life and can relate to them so much but in different ways if that makes sence i do love my partner and it would hurt not being around her but enough is enough where do you stop ? I have t be honest with myself but i love life when im not with my parter not all the time but most of the time, i thought she would of realsie she would loose everythin she has got as me and my family are all shes got, but i need to get the royals to do it and go, its easyer on here than it is in reality should i feel guilty if i left and should i feel guilty for breaking up a family for my feelings and not being there everyday for my daughter ???

  24. One last thought. It’s possible that she does, in fact, want you to go. But I have to think that it’s probable that what’s she’s really saying is “stay and prove to me that our relationship is worth fighting for”. If that were the case, she wouldn’t want you to go – instead she’s crying out for connection. Just a thought.

  25. thankyou for your reply neil it is much appriciated for your honesty and i can totaly say i have given them all 100% once i had my parents have my daughter over night and sent her shopping and a pampering day i toldher not to eat as im going to cook, she returned home and said im not ungry i had a mcdonalds and im going to bed im tierd !!! ouch after 4 hours of cooking and preparing the whole night for us to try and get a bit of a spark back, it realy didnt work she went to bed and slept till the morning, shes had a hard life she lost her father at the age of 13 and her mother at 14 and went into foster care and got treated like a no-one and then we met throught my sister and she was happyer than ever untill after about a year when the first time she told me she didnt love me i made out it didnt bother me and it ripped a peice of my heart out that as never grown back she not one for change and doesnt have any family around her only mine which treat her like part of the family but she still says she dont care if i go, i try and do spontainus things for her but she says i dont like it or i didnt ask you to do it and so forth, my mum said to me the other week ive noticed a changed in you and it not for the good now my mom loves my parnter like a daughter and even more than me i tink but she said to mr your not happy with her anymore are you and i said no and who nos best other than mothers but i just fort id ask for proffesional guidance on this one as it a big thing and appreciate what you say thankyou again

  26. Hi Neil

    I was reading your article and all the posts and my question is, why do I stay in a relationship that I know is not right for me? Whether I was in the relationship for 4 yrs or 3 months, I always continue to act like everything is o.k. I will be affectionate when I don’t really want to be, I will make plans to do things in the future, I will assure them that everything is o.k meanwhile I am just screaming to run the other way. Why do we do this. I don’t think I am afraid to be alone. I am financially independant. I don’t “need” to be in the relationship, but for some reason even when it is bad it takes me sooooo long to finally leave. Any insight would be helpful. Thanks

    • Hi Savanah,

      Without more information it’s tough to say. Many people stay because of some emotional fear associated with act of leaving, or asserting their own independence. Some people stay because they actually have hope for their relationship on some level – but perhaps without any idea of how to do things differently to arrive at a different result.

      Some people value the security of knowing how their life will be today/tomorrow – even if it’s “bad” – more than the instability of being solo and not knowing what might be around the corner.

      I suggest to you, though, that perhaps you either work on your relationship skills to improve things – OR honor your heart more quickly, so that you don’t do the damage of lying to yourself (or your significant other) for extended periods of time.

      Thank you for writing!

  27. I left, almost three weeks ago, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is so hard because my boyfriend and I really do love each other very much. We have been best friends since we met two and a half years ago. I finally left because he is not willing to father a child with me. I have no children; he has two nearly grown children from his first marriage. When my ex and I first got together, he told me he always imagined that he may have to be open to having another child with someone someday. He told me he understood how I would want one of my own, especially seeing his children around. I remember those words like they were yesterday. So, although fathering another child, in his early/mid forties was not his ideal plan, in the beginning he was open to it and openly expressed that. However, not long after we got together he lost his job and was unemployed for more than seven months and consequently, suffered some very significant financial losses. Also during this time, my boyfriend and I had our share of communication issues, we’ve had our share of arguments but we always stayed together and truly were very best friends. I can’t remember at what point my boyfriend started to express a change in heart about fathering a child with me, but it became a constant conflict for me, endless battles with him about my desire to be a mother, and his endless reasons and excuses as to why he no longer was willing to father another child. I would see him happily interacting with his children and it would break my heart. I began to resent him, and ultimately it even began affecting my relationship with his children. I dreaded the time they would be with us because I knew how much it would remind me that I was not going to have my own family with him, it was tortuous to me. I felt as though I actually had no control over my desire to become a mother. I tried so hard to not want that desire, because I wanted him and I to work so badly. All of this began to change both of us, and we began to argue and bicker almost constantly about so many things that were so insignificant. It was changing everything good between us. Fast forward to November, 2009, surprise…I’m pregnant! I couldn’t believe it. First time in my whole life and I was 40, and so happy. When I told my boyfriend he was wonderful, he told me that all of his original fears hadn’t left, but he was working through them and started talking about names, and putting things into a positive perspective. Sadly, I lost my baby just a few short weeks later. While I was still in the physical process of losing my baby, my boyfriend came to me one morning and told me that he knew how much a baby meant to me and that we could try again and he that he knew this time everything would be ok. I was hesitant to fully believe his statement and openly expressed my concern that he was only saying that because he felt sorry for me. To which he replied that yes he felt sorry for me, but he loved me and that was why he was telling me that we could try again. Sadly, my original concern about his statement was true. Just a few days after Christmas his avoidance of the whole subject was so obvious to me and one night I finally came out with the question about trying again. It turned into the same battle we had been having for more than the last year of our relationship. I knew then that this was ultimately the end of our relationship. I had contemplated leaving several times, packed my things once, but had never left, all because of my battle to become a mother. This time, I just left; I packed one small bag and walked out the door. I was gone within 10 minutes. He didn’t say a word, didn’t try to stop me. We had battled the same battle too many times.

    Since I left, my boyfriend and I have exchanged a couple of insightful emails to each other. We didn’t really say anything to each other that had not already been said, it’s just in writing it was our way of saying to each other what was in our hearts without it being a bitter battle. I did my best to explain to him what it did to me emotionally to battle so hard to become a mother in our relationship. How unbelievably painful it is to long for a child, and to lose a child. It is a feeling that no one can understand unless they feel it. It was as if I had no control over the emotions of that desire, it has been torturous. The more I allowed myself to be happy and love him, to become a part of his and his children’s lives, the stronger the desire to be a mother to his child became. And every time I longed for his child, I was reminded that he was not willing to give that to me. So, I began to withdraw from him, emotionally and physically, it was resentment and it has been heartbreaking. My boyfriend and I are both devastated about this breakup, but we are both in some ways relieved of the pressure, the conflict. My boyfriend wrote to me that as much as he misses me and as much as my energy is still everywhere in his home, he prefers the loneliness to the constant sadness and resentment. He told me it is easier to miss me than to come home to silence and sadness every night. He feels that he gave one hundred percent of what he had to give to me, and it was not enough to make me happy. I will forever feel bad for him feeling that way. He was a wonderful man to me, and I see now how he really did do everything in his power to make me happy, in hopes that it would be enough, that I would not need a child to complete our relationship. I too welcome the short bursts of relief I now feel from the torturous conflict of feeling so in love yet so resentful to a man that I know loves me very much. I don’t know how to walk away from someone I love, it seems impossible to do, so I just take it a minute at a time. I can’t imagine that one day I will not miss him, want him, not love him, or be with someone else. I have lost my best friend and I curse and damn this desire for motherhood, because it ruined everything else that was us.

    I do not understand why when you love someone; it just doesn’t work…somehow, someway.

    • Hi Sonja,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is unfortunate that you weren’t able to get to the bottom of your conflict about having a child and resolve it together. I wonder – if it were possible to resolve it, would you try? Or at this point are you focused on moving forward?

      Undoubtedly there is a lot of love out there in the world. Just because you love someone (and they love you back) doesn’t mean that your values and goals for a relationship line up completely. In those moments, if the differences can’t be resolved, it certainly makes more sense (to me) to make a choice in favor of honoring what you know you really want.

      There’s obviously more to discover behind his reluctance to have a child. If you were staying, that’s what I’d pursue. There are probably some bridges to understanding in truly getting to the bottom of it.

      I wish you the best of luck in your search. Thank you for stopping by and telling us your story.

  28. I just wish someone could put my mind at ease. After 25 yeards of marriage to a good man, I left because I was terribly unhappy and completely unfulfilled. I felt no attraction to him and filled the gaps in my life with studying and working.

    That was three years ago and although I have now met someone I really believe I can find happiness with, I am torn apart each day worrying about my husband (still not divorced). I panic and think I have made the wrong decision, crave some memory that will make me want to go back to him, even though I remember the many dark unhappy years of my marriage. Why can I not move on? I feel like I just don’t deserve happiness, certainly not at the expense of someone else’s. Especially someone I still love in some ways and care for deeply. Please help if you can.

    • Hi Sue,

      “I feel like I just don’t deserve happiness” – of course you deserve happiness.

      While there’s not enough in your comment to know much about your past relationship, it seems clear that you haven’t fully made the decision to leave – even though that was 3 years ago. You were together for 25 years – so it’s possible that you were connected, but just not doing the kinds of things that are necessary to keep a relationship alive, loving, and passionate. If you had hope for that relationship, I might suggest some strategies for going back and trying anew. There are probably some good memories SOMEWHERE – since there must have been some compelling reason to bring you two together in the first place.

      On the other hand, if you are truly moving on, then you will need to get some closure. Perhaps you can help your ex-husband connect with someone else, as a way of offering reparations for having ended your marriage? Ultimately the act of finalizing your divorce, and the grieving that I imagine you’ll need to go through, will also be a way of achieving that closure. It will be a sign, for you, of whether or not your current relationship will really measure up, if your new partner can stand beside you and help you grieve.

      Either way, I’d think that you have a pretty compelling future. Who knows what will happen?!? :) Just promise yourself that if you fully go down this new road, that you won’t repeat the patterns that led to boredom (“unhappy and completely unfulfilled”) the first time around. Be prepared to take responsibility for your own happiness and fulfillment. After all, you deserve it!

  29. Thank you for writing this article. It was truly inspiring and very helpful. It allowed me to address probably my worst fears and probably what has gotten me in this almost depression state I have been in for the past 6 months. I am about to graduate college and have been with the guy I am with now (who I do not think I will be with anymore thank you very much to you and your inspiring words for HOPEFULLY giving me enough encouragement to do what is right for both of us) for over 2 years. In the past 2 and a half years the same 8 girls I have been best friends with since the 6th grade all grew apart. Our little “group” of 10 guys and 8 girls completely fell apart and some of my “best friends” even hate each other now and it is absolutely ridiculous and childish but it won’t change. Everyone got busy and started doing their own thing. They fell in love, moved, begun hanging out with other people, etc. My boyfriend does not even know my best friends that well. I should not say best friends because the issue with me is is that I really do not think I have any anymore. I have best friends who I can call and tell anything to but the 2 I still talk to frequently are in serious relationships one being EXTREMELY unhealthy and abusive so I cannot even really be around her and she is my very best friend in the world but I can no longer try to help because she will never listen. Anyways, I do not really ever see anyone. I go to my classes and my job and otherwise I am usually at home alone with my dog in the weirdest mood. I look for excuses to not be around him now and I know why and all that but I am depressed and I just have no clue who I am anymore. It made me sick to my stomach reading this but it is what I needed to read. I realized I do not know anything about myself. I have no idea what makes me happy anymore. I have no idea if I have any friends to turn to. I have no idea what my passion in life is, and I have no idea what makes me who I am. I have been in this saddenned state for too long I guess. I will have no one if I do what is right for both of us and leave, and I am afraid of that because I do not think I will ever be the kind of person who will want to go out to bars and all that ever again. I care about him but things are so different and we are not the same people we used to be. I have truly been IN LOVE one time in my life and I miss him so much. I was 14 when I met him we were together for 4 years and even my own parents who are very old fashioned told me they could see in both of us how in love we were. We were so passionate about each other and so in love and truly soul mates and best friends and I just want to find that love with someone again but I am not sure I ever will. I am so afraid because half my “friends” are away at school in other states and pretty much all my friends grew apart and I really do not know how to just start over please help me with some advice because I am so very lost.

    • Hi Carrigan,

      Thank you for your long comment. You certainly have a LOT going on! First of all, take some comfort in knowing that the pain you’re going through is generally a hallmark of enormous growth.

      A few thoughts:

      As much as it, well, sucks – it’s natural, I think, for friends to grow apart as they grow older. Especially friends from your youth, as you mature into adults and find your way in the world. Sometimes you come back together and discover new ways to connect, or you just realize that your connection was based on past circumstances that are no longer relevant in your lives. The best that you can do is tend the fires of the friendships that mean the most to you, and pay attention to whether or not they really serve you. There are doubtlessly people out there who currently care about you – and people who will come to care about you in the future. You just have to remain open to finding those people.

      Your confusion is natural as well – graduating and getting ready to figure out your place in the world. With the risk comes a lot of uncertainty – and, honestly, often people choose (on some level it is a choice) “depression” as a way of coping with the overwhelm in a big transition. How is your depression and sadness serving you? Can you find more positive ways of serving those same needs?

      And my *one* word of caution about your impending breakup – are you sure that you’re not casting away someone who could be a resource for you, to help you get through this confusing time of transition?

      You will find love again. And again. Until you’re ready to commit. I can tell you that the way that you love will evolve and change. There really isn’t anything like the kind of love that you have when you’re 14 – but then, that’s because they way that you love grows. It can encompass aspects of what love at 14 is like, but then there are other ways where it becomes deeper, deeper by virtue of the fact that you are older, and know yourself better, and know how to care for another person when you’re out in the world living your life without being “protected” by your parents walls and roof. Personally I think a good way to think about it is to consider that each person you’re with is there to teach you something – and perhaps that first love taught you about the depths of love and passion. What is your current love teaching you?

      I actually reconnected with a high-school love just as I was graduating from college. We had a correspondence (letters – there wasn’t really much e-mailing going on then), and I really actually thought that we might have been rekindling something. When I got home, a few months after graduation, I realized that it couldn’t be. Just like you have grown apart from your friends, with whom you were so close, I found that I had been “in love” with a picture of who I thought this person was, and what I remembered her to have been. If you came across your old flame now, perhaps things *would* be magical. Perhaps. Or you might remember why you split up in the first place. The important thing is to get crystal clear on what’s reality, and what’s just taking place “in your mind”.

      Hint – it’s all taking place in your mind. :) Think about the meaning that you’re giving to the events in your life. Could you give those events a meaning that was more empowering?

      Carrigan – you are on the doorstep of your life. What will it take for you to embrace the uncertainty and move forward with confidence that it will all work out? After all, it’s all working out, right now, in this moment. Even if it doesn’t feel that way. As I said at the beginning, the pain is a prelude to, generally, something new and worthwhile.

      As a side note, please feel free to check out my other website – The Natural Dog Blog – in particular the “Training How-To” section. You’ll find some cool ways to connect with your dog, which might help you get outside and into the moment in ways that help you transcend the confusion and remember what really matters in your life.

      with love,

  30. Thank you for the quick response Neil. It was extremely accurate and helpful at that. The only thing I want to ask is pertaining to your statement:

    And my *one* word of caution about your impending breakup – are you sure that you’re not casting away someone who could be a resource for you, to help you get through this confusing time of transition?

    I have no clue if that is what I am doing. I won’t be graduating because I do not have a major so I have just been taking classes for 4 years most of which will not count towards graduation with a major. I have no clue what I want to do with my life and it scares the hell out of me and I am constantly stressed which is probably why I pretty much seclude myself from everyone. I do not know how to figure out if I am the one pushing him away because I can’t deal with pretty much anything right now or if I really did fall out of love with him.

    Also, I just want to say that I do not feel like the person I started dating when I was 14 was a childish love. I dated him till I was 18 and the breakup, well, the breakup was completely all me and was completely ignorant on my part. Long story short, I was a senior at an all girls, private school. Enough said right? DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. There was a girl in my class who made up a bunch of stuff and I made a dumb decision and believed her little rumors she spread around the school. I shouldn’t have because she was just trying to make me break up with him because she liked him (her twin was dating his best friend). Anyways, that is a long complicating story short but I broke up with him and shut him out completely and I do not think I ever really dealt with any of it. I do currently know him still. We were set up by our older sisters who are best friends. So, I do still know him but do not really talk to him much he is in a relationship. His sister is getting married in july and my sister is the maid of honor. I do not think I am in love with a picture of who he is. I think I am in love with who I was when we were together. He encouraged me and helped me and it was everything that being in love with your best friend is supposed to be. I am not saying I think we belong together or anything but I do think I would have spent the rest of my life with him if I would have played things differently. However, I did not and I think he is in my past to show me what love is supposed to be. I just do not know if the guy I am with was ever that guy. I am not sure if I am shutting him out because I am in a place in my life which is overwhelming. I think that is a very high possibilty but I do not know how to figure out if that is what I am doing and if so how to deal with it and let him back in. I am not attracted to him anymore we have not had sex in 6 months and I always am trying to find excuses as to why he cannot come over. But those things can too be related to me shutting him out. I just do not know how to figure out if I have been shutting out someone or if i truly don’t want to be with him anymore.

  31. Hi,

    I’ve been in a relationship for 2.5 years and up until about 3 months ago- the sun shined out of his butt. I recognized the things he needed to work on but he was communicative, loving, smart, etc. Hes 5 years older than me but im about 20 years older than him in “life”. Its not his fault b/c he’s in law school (his 4th degree) and his parents are WAY too coddling of him. Slowly but surely Ive realized my gas tank just isnt full anymore and im running on empty. I trained him in a way to learn how to be in a relationship again b/c he was hurt several years prior. Im so generous and loving that I think i did too much and didnt see that I probably should have walked a long time ago. I didnt though because hes just that great of a person. I thought the fact my love hadnt depleted that meant i should work it out. Recently i talked about it and he made a comment that stuck to me like a hot coal “i dont know if you are going to be patient enough with me…but i hope you will be”. Thats the most I have ever received in words of our future together. Hes afraid to talk about it. After all this he still cant even talk about how to move in together or take a next step. I still am pracitcally single every week and make dinner alone. Just writing this I know what my decision is, but I came to the site hoping to finalize my mind either way. Im sad. I dont want to hurt him. It may sound funny but psychologically, this guy is afraid to get hurt. His parents really want him to move on with his life but he has little money due to law school and they already help him with that. I dont know, its just funny how life can mask the negatives for so long and then POOF, finally you ask yourself? What the hell have I been doing? I guess he was meant to be with me as a creative partner on a project, teach me how to REALLY love and be non judgemental… and now I should go find someone more on the same page. You know what is weird? I usually am a risk taker- and this is the scariest thing ever to me. To leave. I guess you just have to hope.

    • Hi Carrie,

      Thank you for telling us about your situation. I do think that it’d be rare for someone to not feel scared when leaving a relationship, no matter how certain they are that it’s the right move. From your description, it does sound like there are some changes that he would have to make in order for you to be happy in that relationship.

      I will say that in the time since I wrote my article, I’ve become more convinced that a change in one of the partners (you, for instance) can actually effect change in the other partner. If you haven’t left yet, there might be an experiment or two you could try.

      If you have entered the single world again, then I wish you the best of luck in your journey. Even when you meet someone on the same page, you’re bound to have your challenges. So just be ready for them. The best thing that you can do is get clear about how you’re meeting your needs both within and without the relationship – and get clear on the effects of your choices on the emotional state of your partner. :)

  32. Thankyou for your artical niel I dont know why I didnt search for it sooner.
    I have been in a emotionaly draining relationship for about 2 and half years now and ever since it started I have doubted it but somehow where still together. We have broken up ounce already and again about 3 more times but every time it gets to that moment neither if us have the strenght to leave. Or maybe I just dont as I know she wants to be with me forever unconditionaly I do love her dearly but when she speaks of marriage and being together for ever I just cant say that I want that with her or anyone right now. We get along great and better than anyone else I know but I can relate to every blog you have written above. Every time I see her in such agonising pain and begging for us to stay together I simply cant do that to anyone after my past relationship kept me single for over six years. so I tell her I love her which I do and decide to just give it another go but I start thinking again well all I want to do is travel and experience the world and make smart investments to make money while traveling but she can not do that as she is career focused and can only take short holidays every year. I feel like she is holding me back from things I have dreamed of doing for years or am I just being selfish? But at the same time I love holidaying with her and having fun. Anyway we recently had our biggest fight yet and I thought that would be it as I told her I’m not sure if I want to be with her forevevr and all I had to say to end it was you need to leave but could not and we are back giving it another go and looking at buying an apartment together. So confused and emotionaly drained is it wrong to leave somone that loves you unconditionaly or am I been shallow and realise what I really have?

    • Hi James,

      Well, it’s tough to say. It sounds like you’ve been doubting the relationship from the start. However, when you say that your previous relationship “kept you single for six years” – it does make me wonder about what your expectations are for how a relationship should be, and whether or not you’ve created rules for yourself that would be tough (or impossible) to fulfill.

      When someone loves you unconditionally (truly), that certainly is a tough thing to walk away from. So, what is it that is draining you in the relationship? If you could get at the heart of the conflict that you’re having, and truly fix it, would you still want to walk away?

      Now actually getting to the heart of a conflict (and fixing it) is maybe a little too much for a comment on a blog post. But that’s the direction I’d head in if you were truly interested in fixing your relationship. Please pm me if you want to talk, offline, about ways to do what I’m suggesting.

      All my best, Neil

  33. Thank you for your advice. I think you’re right oin that I haven’t severed ties with my husband, haven’t really left him emotionally. But I want to, very much. I want to feel I am free to find love and fulfillment elsewhere. But because of isues of abandonment in my childhood, maybe I cling to him as a saftey net. After all, he is a good man and I would be safe with him. We would enjoy the things we used to, being with our family (I have no family other than my daughter whereas he has parents and siblings) and travelling etc. Please help me to move on.

    • Well I have to ask – if he is a good man, and you have a daughter (together?) – then why do you want to move on, instead of turning that relationship into one that will fulfill your needs?

  34. I read your article after a very exposlive argument between my b-friend and it’s hard to get the kind of advise I need. We have been together 15 years and he is an alcoholic. We have a 12 year old daughter. He was abusive to me emotionally, physically, and sexually for the first six or seven years of our relationship. I left him many times he would promise to stop I would go back. Then the law took over and he had to do house arrest and do a alcohol sobriety test where he had to maintain his sobriety while on house arrest. Once this was complete he stayed sober…for awhile. He did not attend A.A. meetings and he had to take domestic violence classes twice. The first time he had not quit drinking and failed the second time he was sober and was successful. Now it’s eight years later give or take and he slowly incorporated the alcohol back into our lives. He has been drinking regularly at least for the last 18 months. It makes me so nervous when he is drinking. He has not been violent at all since he started back but I can’t help feeling like I am running through a field of land mines and one day I am going to land on one. He of course thinks I am over reacting and this is my problem and one I need to work through since he isn’t beating me now and that was a long time ago and I just need to find some why to get over it and stop making this his issue. I know from the past I can’t make him stop drinking but I just don’t know what else to do. I know this may seem like a stupid question but is leaving the right answer in this situation? I feel like many who read this will be like duh.. do you even need to ask but I just feel like no matter what choice I make, I will regret it. Any insight would be great, thanks!

    • Hi April,

      From what you’ve written, it looks like it’s time to leave and take your daughter with you. You need to protect her, and be a role model for how to handle this situation.

      I’d also be sure to find a local counselor who really understands what’s going on (bear in mind that all I know is what you’ve written here) and can help you figure out what’s next.

      Good luck to you and your daughter…AND to your boyfriend. I hope you all can get to a good place in your lives.

  35. Hi Neil,
    Im 41, never been in a really serious relationship, never lived with a woman, just had lots and lots of casual sexual relationships, and a few relationships that i stayed in for a year or so because i didnt want to hurt them, or didnt want to lose their approval, not sure which. Im pretty obsessed with others approval. And i know this fuels all the casual sex. Im in the first *real* relationship of my life it feels like. And Ive been trying to get out of it since i got in it 2 years ago. She would always talk me out of it, and i probably still resent her for that, and when I finally broke up with her a year ago, and she just started seeing someone else, i went on a 6 week solo holiday i was miserable as sin, full of regret, and didnt look at another girl. I told her this and we got back together. Now im working interstate for a few mths and ive kissed another woman and then put an add on a stupid dating site. she found out about both and wants to know once and for all am i committed to this. this sounds ridiculous in writing i can see, but your earlier reply to simon about whether he had given his relationship every change really hit home. i havent, and i think i could make it work if i did. problem is as much as i love her and respect her i baulk at committing fully. I still resent her for the fights when she would want to talk about committment and i didnt, and the feelings i have that i got back with her so as not to hurt her. ive made a life of taking the easy way out and im sick of it. but ive also spend my life living for others approval and im sick of that too. and i dont want to hurt her any more just for my own therapy. So do i do the things in your list to give it a decent go, or do i take the easy option and look for someone else?

    • Hi Michael,

      I’m actually working on a series of articles to help clarify how I think we can make relationships work “for real”. It sounds like you can see your pattern plainly enough – and given your description it seems likely that if you “look for someone else” you’re going to end up just in the same place with someone else. Because, as you astutely observe – the problem is probably not her – it’s within you.

      I think that it’s a REAL challenge, especially as a guy, to figure out what to do once you’ve won your girl. You get that boost in significance and certainty about yourself, but…then what? The nice thing is that there is a “what” to shoot for that gets to the heart of the matter. Why are we in relationships anyway? We’re there to experience love. And love is an action. What I think brings us true joy is experiencing the kind of love that gives for giving’s sake, that gives for the pleasure of giving, for the magic of seeing how you can actually light up another person. The best relationships magnify our experience – our lives are greater because of the relationship. And having that kind of relationship is completely within your control – though it will present its own risks and challenges.

      She’s asking you if you’re committed – and the answer currently, given your actions, is clearly “no”. However, it is probably a sign of how much she cares about you that she’s even willing to give you the option of saying “yes”. And making a real go of it.

      You can get over your resentment if that’s what you choose to do. You can learn how to love, how to be truly intimate with a woman, if that’s what you choose to do. Or you can keep sampling from the buffet – if that’s what you choose to do.

      My gut tells me, though, that you’re writing because you’re ready for something different. I’d be happy to help give you some thoughts on how to approach it, and some strategies for breaking some of your old patterns. It’s actually pretty easy to do. It’s like you’re standing in front of two doorways. And you already know what will happen if you go through door #1. Door #2 is a bit more mysterious. You have some good ideas about it, and some fears about it. But once you walk through it, and see what it’s really like to be loving AND truly committed, then door #1 starts to lose its power and appeal. When things get tough it will challenge you. But even in those circumstances you can frame “difficulty” as an opportunity for you to rise to the challenge and show your partner, show yourself, what you’re made of.

  36. thanks Neil. very wise words mate. i dont know how you figured all this stuff out. unfortunately i had to make a decision yesterday and although i had come to much the same conclusion as you, and as much as i value your intuition advice, my track record said id screw it up again so i called it off. i feel like shit. thanks again though, kickarse advice. Mick

  37. Thank you for this advise. I am in a cycle of back and forth now with man for the last 4 years. Sadly enough we never even established anything more than “just being involved”. 3 years in I got pregnant and we now have a 1 year old. So this advice def sits strong with me as most do that I read but it is very difficult when a child is involved, esp one so young. I am still “involved” with him. It’s like now I am commiting to a non commitment and that’s the hardest to deal with! I also don’t see myself freely moving on with anyone else b/c I feel like I can’t have noone else over with out feeling it’s wrong. So any advice on moving past someone you know the future isn’t going to be what you envision for a relationship/husband…when a child is involved? (first and foremost it is about our son) but I can’t seem to get out of this deadend cycle!

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Honestly, especially with a child involved (unless your partner is abusive), I think that there might be a lot that you could do to take your relationship to the next level. I understand how perplexing it can be – not being officially “committed” – and yet this has been going on for 4 years(!) AND you have a child together (which is quite the commitment).

      It’s tough to say without knowing more about what’s at the root of the relationship stalling out. But either way, for your son’s sake, you need to figure it out and take action. Remember that he is learning the lessons that you are teaching him about how to be in a relationship, how a man should treat a woman, etc. I’d like to think that there’s hope for the two of you in this situation, but more information would be necessary.

      That’s assuming you WANT commitment from your current partner, if you could get it. The reality for him, of potentially having another man raise his son, of always having ties to you even if you’re off with someone else, of wishing he were closer to his son – all of those things would, I think, provide incentive for him to want to step up.

      But maybe there are other things that need to happen too? It’s not usually just “the commitment” that’s lacking – there are the reasons behind that lack of commitment that need to be addressed.

      Why ARE you having trouble moving on?

  38. this article made me realize some things i felt that i didnt even know i felt. well im in this relationship and i seriously dont know what to do. my partner and i used to live together until i had to move very far away and we havent seen eachother in almost a year but we have been plannig to have her move out here with me but because of alot of things that have happened in between we havent been able to. and now that its been so long i dont trust her anymore. i found out she cheated on me. most people would have ended it there but i didnt. i decide to give her another chance since i have cheated on her in the past but she never found out about that. so i tell myself that i deserve it and its karma so i should give her a chance. but this whole year i havent cheated on her. but i still dont trust her and i really love her and dont want to loose her. i think i would be all alone out here without her but i cant trust her. sometimes she dont even get home till the next day and dont answer the phone all night. i tell myself that i just wont call her no more and that i dont want to be with her no more but i always end up calling her and when i talk to her i do want to be with her. i really want to know how can i end the relationship. im tired of being like this this whole year. i want to move on and be happy but i dont know how to end our relationship without being hurt myself. please give me some advice!

    • Hi Alex,

      It sounds to me like the only chance your relationship would have is if you could be in the same place and reestablish some trust between the two of you. It would also probably have to come with some mutual understanding and forgiveness – i.e. even if it hurts, perhaps you can acknowledge the reasons why you both would have chosen to spend time with other people, so you can get past it together.

      The moments when one can “break up” without being hurt are rare. You’re going to have to experience some pain whether you decide to stay with her OR leave her. The pain isn’t the problem. It’s what you DO with the pain that’s the issue. Can you embrace it as a sign that you are growing, learning how to have better relationships? As a sign that you care, that you feel, that your heart is working properly?

      Long distance relationships are hard, man! If you want to give your relationship a chance, especially considering what’s happened, you’re going to have to do what it takes to truly be together – in the same place. If you’re not willing to do that, then your best bet would probably be to break up as lovingly as possible (i.e. take responsibility for the situation – as in “this isn’t working for me” and “I’m so sorry” etc.) and then, for sanity’s sake, take some time where you don’t communicate, and where instead you focus on living your life where you ARE, being present for friends who are there for you. And allowing yourself some time to heal.

      Best of luck to you, and please keep us posted.

  39. Thank you for your atricle Neil. Even after reading it, and knowing that a few of the signs apply (i.e. crying all the time, wondering if your partner is right for you) I can’t seem to justify leaving the one person who I adore. Right now we are in a touch patch, doing some renovations, looking to sell the house and move, so I feel that a lot of our pressure has to do with that. We get along great all problems aside, but i moved across the ocean to be with him and I feel sometimes that he doesn’t want me here anymore, that he doesn’t love me like he used to. Then, other times he makes me feel like the most important person alive. We are both very hard headed, which also makes it difficult. He gets angry with me over small things, and a lot of the time I turn my head and blame it on stress. I just can’t seem to leave, I just don’t have that got instinct pushing me out. I feel deep down that I need to stick it out and it will be worth it in the end. There are a lot of factors putting stress on us at the moment and I just keep feeling that they are putting most of the pressure, not whether or not we are right for eachother. Like I said, we are both very head strong….is that a reason to leave someone? Like when the going get’s tough, you get going? I know that there are a lot of people out there that should leave, maybe deep down I am one of them. Some advice whether or not I should stick it out would really help, cause my gut keeps telling me no. JEN

    • Hi Jen,

      From what you’ve described, I’d say that it doesn’t sound like you should leave…not yet, anyway! You offer so many reasonable explanations for experiencing difficulty, and it sounds like your gut is telling you to stay.

      So the next question is: If you stay, how can you create more understanding? Better communication? More alignment?

      When the going gets tough, it can be an amazing opportunity to take your relationship to a new place. But if you keep responding the way that you’ve been responding, nothing will change. That’s probably why you have the questions about your relationship, because “all problems aside”, if it kept going the ways it’s going you probably wouldn’t want it to continue.

      Most people, when under stress, have a tendency to go into patterns of behavior to deal with the stress. Generally that means that they either go to “anger” or to “sadness”. Typically a person will go to one of those first predominantly, and then swing back and forth between the two until something happens to break the cycle. Does this sound familiar at all?

      In my work coaching other people, I’ve found that simply understanding this cycle and coming up with fun ways to change the pattern for oneself can radically alter the dynamic in a relationship. If you add in a thorough assessment of your needs, your partners needs, the level at which you’re both “doing” the relationship, and some strategies for how you can actually act differently (even better if your partner is involved too) – then you can take a problem relationship and turn it around.

      I’ve actually become quite a bit more hopeful about relationships since I wrote this article. Not that there aren’t times when breaking up is appropriate. Turns out that either can be appropriate, but if you’re REALLY going to break up with a person, doesn’t it make sense to have all the information you could possibly have about whether or not you’re making the right decision? Well, I suppose that’s how you found this article in the first place.

      I hope that this has been helpful for you. Please let me know if I can offer you any more insight.

      All my best,

  40. I’m really glad I stumbled on what you’ve written here Neil, because it’s helped me to begin to put my situation into better perspective. Maybe I can finally get things clear in my head and make a decision about whether or not I should go. I’ve been with my partner for 24 years–15 of those as a married couple. I love him, and it pains me to see him in pain, but the majority of the time I find myself feeling indifferent and even annoyed with him, and disappointed in myself for letting it come to this. We have a non-traditional way of life, in that I’m the breadwinner (no kids) and he’s the stay-at-home partner. Granted, he’s extremely handy and makes money here and there by fixing a fixer-upper house we’ll buy and then eventually selling it when we move, by keeping our cars running, or by buying fixer-upper cars cheap, fixing and then selling them. I’m usually a pretty accepting and tolerant person with those I care about. But I keep repeating a pattern over and over again. I’ll get to a point where I begin picking on him because I feel resentful about having to be the one with the job and responsibilities that go along with it, and also picking on him for how he’s behaved around others, or because of character traits he has that I’m annoyed with. Usually I start in on this when I’m feeling unhappy with my job or where we’re living or whatever. It’s like I’m disappointed with the person he’s turned out to be, even though I knew way back that he had emotional limitations linking back to his upbringing. I remember confiding in my sister-in-law just before I got married that I was worried that my partner didn’t have the strength of character that I needed/wanted. Every time I go through this pattern of picking on him/complaining that I feel our relationship isn’t fair or balanced, he comes back saying that he isn’t going to change, that I don’t realize how lucky I am to have someone like him (who loves, understands and accepts me for who I am, knows himself, and does a lot for me as well) and that I have to decide if I want to leave that. I end up feeling like I’ve hurt him again, like I’m selfish or being unrealistic for wanting more in my life, and guilty for not being able to get past whatever it is that keeps me from being able to feel fulfilled and truly happy with him. I worry that either he’s a great manipulator or I’m flawed in some way that makes me sabotage my ability to really be happy. So I’m terrified of taking the risk of moving on without him, because it might be a big mistake that I’ll regret and then end up feeling even worse.

    • Cyndi,

      Thanks for sharing with us about your situation. I really honor how open you’ve been with what’s going on. Wow, there’s a lot in there! Where to begin, where to begin?

      It sounds like you have some valuable insight about your tendency to get nitpicky when you’re feeling down or dissatisfied with some of your own choices. And then, of course, getting nitpicky isn’t exactly a recipe for healthy, loving, fulfilling interactions between you and your husband, right? I also don’t think that it’s helpful for you to be dwelling on whether or not his strength of character is flawed, or whether or not he has emotional limitations. Here’s a little bit of tough love for you, darlin’ – what does it say about your strength of character that you were talking shit about your husband-to-be to your sister-in-law?! 😉

      When I work with couples who are in your predicament, I often ask them to think about what attracted them to each other in the first place. It’s good to get to a grounded, loving place before trying to “fix” anything. People are much more flexible and open to change when they’re operating from a place of love and gratitude, rather than fear and powerlessness.

      Clearly, however, you feel like you’re missing something in your relationship as it currently stands. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The question is – if you could develop some polarity and spark in your relationship, if you could create more intimacy and connection, if you could find ways to ensure that your needs were being met – would you want to be with your husband? Because, as I mentioned to a previous commenter, it could simply be that you need some new ways to act, some new perspective on how to change the dynamics of the situation – and then you’ll suddenly start getting different results.

      If I had to make a guess, I would guess that the two of you are stuck in a level 1 or 2 relationship – where neither of you is really paying attention to filling each other’s needs the way that you both WANT them to be filled. So your husband can’t understand why the way that he tries to love you and show you he cares isn’t good enough, and you wonder if there’s something wrong with you for wanting more in your life. Neither place is very empowering to be.

      Frequently, this place of stuckness also comes about because there are risks that each person in a couple is afraid of taking. They’re the kind of risks that represent a real vulnerability – but that also represent the potential for deeper connection and intimacy.

      If you find yourself going to an angry place when things aren’t going right, then the odds are pretty good that your need to feel significant is quite high on your priority list. We ALL have that need, of course – but where it is in terms of our own personal hierarchy of needs is totally up to us – i.e. a choice. An interesting twist for you might be to consciously prioritize your need for love and connection above significance. So when you feel like being “nitpicky”, can you instead DO something loving? How does that change the results you get?

      It might be even more effective if you do something to change your emotional state first – although the act of being loving might be enough in and of itself to change your state to a better place.

      After having been in your relationship for so long – if I were in your shoes – I’d probably want to REALLY give it my all, at least for a little while, before I made a decision about whether or not it was time to leave. And as counter-intuitive as this might sound, what I mean by “giving it my all” is to spend 90 days being the best possible partner I could be. Which means making it my responsibility to investigate my partner’s needs, and start making it my mission to fill them up the WAY they want to be filled. And to open to my partner.

      Yes, it can suck (at first) to be the one taking responsibility for creating change in a relationship. But if not you, then who? As you start succeeding, though, you’ll find that it really feeds you to take charge of your partner’s needs. And your partner will also suddenly have a lot more energy to feed your needs. Bottom line is, at the end of 90 days you will have some REAL information about who you are, what you’re capable of, and whether your partner is truly responsive, attentive, loving, passionate – or just emotionally limited.

      I would be happy to help you – or both of you – in getting past those limitations. Please do keep me posted. Given how articulate you are, my guess would be that you’re not flawed – you just need some new tools to take things to a level where you’ll both be happy, passionate, and operating from a place of love again. Or find out that it truly isn’t possible in your current situation.

      All my best,

  41. First, I’m relieved to have found your advice. I have no idea who you are, but what you say is believable. I’m in the middle of what soon will be a final break-up, if I commit to it, and I have to act ASAP.

    I don’t know what I want, which I guess means I don’t know myself well enough, which causes much trouble for the current relationship and its future (or end). This is my first relationship, and we’re nearing 5 years together. Everyone in our network of family and friends believes we are perfect for each other, and don’t understand why we would ever break up. I feel lucky we are together because he truly is a model life partner, and I truly do love him. BUT:

    1). For the past 2 years, I have not desired intimacy with him besides cuddling and lip kisses. I used to try to hide that and pleasure him, but now I can’t even bring myself to do that. I reject his advances and feel awful for it. What does that mean about me? I’ve also had depression, which I know can mute a libido, but can it explain for such an absence of desire, 3 years into a relationship, in your twenties? Am I lazy and quitting a good thing?

    2). Because this is my first real relationship, how can I know he’s the best match for me, given (1)? Also, I believe in serial monogamous relationships. Before this relationship set sail, did I unconsciously give it an expiration date because I don’t believe in having a “forever” relationship, especially if it’s my first?

    3). How can I appreciate and care so deeply for my partner, LOVE him in all ways possible, desire his company at all times, but not desire him sexually? It makes me feel like a horrible person.

    I want to set him free to find his perfect partner if I am incapable, but I don’t want to quit I’m being too ignorant to recognize how good I’ve got it, and believe me, friends young and old tell me I’ve got it.

    I desperately hope you reply to this, via comment or email.

    Thank you.

    • Hi There Female Anon,

      First of all, my apologies for taking some time to respond. I’m actually organizing a totally different approach to helping people, essentially with over-the-phone (or Skype) coaching, as it seems to be much more effective AND easier to really get all of the important information across. Having brought that up, let me just say that I’d be totally open to working with you to help you with the decision that it sounds like you just made.

      That being said…

      I’m glad to hear that you found my words to be helpful. Generally, I think that it’s important to try to qualify what kind of hope there is for a relationship, and that has a lot to do with what you want out of a relationship. That might be a clearer question for you to answer – because my guess is that you’d want to be with a “model life partner” – but one with whom you actually desire intimacy, as much for yourself as for the other person. And I want to address one of the last things you said first, which was that you said that you’re afraid YOU’RE incapable of having that kind of relationship. Let me just tell you that without even knowing you, just from the words that you wrote, I can tell that you ARE perfectly capable. Sometimes what’s missing is just knowing “what to do” to make it happen – and once you know what to do, then the actual doing is much easier.

      So let me now address your list, one number at a time:

      However, I’m going to start with #2:
      (My first real relationship – and I believe in serial monogamous relationships)
      You’re right, that your beliefs about “forever” relationships could certainly be getting in the way. Maybe that belief is coming into conflict with knowing that if you were take more risks in the relationship, go deeper, that you would be risking a “forever” relationship – and that scares you for some reason? Hey, if it were my first relationship it’d probably scare me too! This is a tough one for me, because on the one hand, I can look back at truly amazing people that I dated, and even, at times, think “now why’d I let that person get away”. However, when I look at where I am now, with an amazing wife and two amazing children, would I change a thing? Nope. Of course I can also look back at some “doozies” – relationships that really SHOULD have ended long before they did. It’s hard for me to imagine what life would be like if I had ended up with the people I was dating in my late teens/early 20s. But listen, that doesn’t mean it has to be that way for you – and here’s why:

      We have a tendency to repeat patterns in relationships. So there’s a balance, as we meet/date new people, because although a new person can inject completely new qualities into your life, the human tendency, over time, is to go back into old patterns.

      Something for you to decide is – is this being your “first real relationship” reason enough to end things? Do you have an internal requirement to date more people? If so, then it’s up to you to decide if you REALLY want that requirement or not. This is a choice to be made, not necessarily something in you genes over which you have no control!

      OK now on to #1:
      Lack of Passion – There are so many things that could be at the root of this – and they could be things that involve him (as well as you). But often, when people have been together for awhile, they can start to lose the kind of polarity that helps spark passion. You become like good friends, best friends – but lose the edge that keeps things passionate. The cool thing is that there are things you CAN do that are under your control. So it doesn’t mean anything about you, except that maybe there’s some room for you to grow as you learn to take more control of this aspect of your life.

      Now maybe there’s conflict between the two of you that’s an obstacle? Maybe there’s some understanding that needs to take place? Maybe there’s some disconnection that needs to be healed? Maybe you still have a lot of growing to do, and you fear that your growing will take you in separate directions? Those things could be obstacles to intimacy as well.

      Back to #2 – How can you know that he’s the best match for you? Although this question points out a contradiction within you (with your “serial monogamy” belief”) that should probably be addressed, let’s tackle it head on. The only way you could really have a good shot at knowing, one way or another, would be for you to commit to taking your relationship to the next level, rekindling intimacy, and, perhaps, shifting your priorities a bit to become more in alignment with each other. If HE also really wants to stay together, then he could become an active participant in this as well. If, after a decent length of time (I suggest about 90 says) you feel completely full but things still don’t feel right – then he’s not the best match. On the other hand, you might just feel like everything is peachy, and that you have a way to resolve times of dullness, lack of intimacy, and stagnation. Note that I have some VERY SPECIFIC ways to go about this exercise, so if you were interested, we could talk about that.

      Hopefully my answer, so far, has given you some clue to #3. It’s completely normal to feel the way you do, as it’s a classic pattern that people in relationships fall into. The question becomes – would you want this relationship if you could get out of the pattern? Or maybe you just get out of the pattern, and then, from a place of more certainty (and sex!), you can answer the question of whether or not you really want the relationship.

      Miss Anon – there is nothing wrong with you. All you have to do is, essentially, grow past the boundaries that you have set up in this relationship. It’s actually something that you could do yourself (i.e. without input from your partner – because changing yourself will, ultimately, change the dynamic of your relationship and change your partner’s actions), but if your partner were into it as well, that in and of itself could really create some interesting and fun sparks to help take you to the new place.

      So I’m not sure where you are in the decision-making process. My gut tells me that there’s hope for the two of you, although at the same time it’s tempered by recognizing that you’re young, and maybe you just want/need to stretch your wings a bit more. There are no “right” answers – as I think that either direction can be a great opportunity for you to grow.

      As I said at the beginning, I would be more than happy to work with you (or both of you) to either help you develop some passion – or to support you on your own two feet. You can connect with me through e-mail –

      All my best to you…

  42. Hi I have been married for 9 years now and have 2 children ages 5 & 7. I met my husband when I was 16 and was married at 17. I fell in love with him instantly and he is a really good father & provider but i’m starting to feel like we lack something. We cannot talk about & discuss things about our relationship because he always ends up getting mad and calling me names and telling me how ignorant I am. It’s not all the time just when he gets mad. He is not abusive and takes good care if us and can really be loving at times. I’ve just come to the point in my life where I am thinking maybe it’s time for a change but don’t want to make the wrong decision. Last night for instance we where talking about having to move from our current house and I had suggested moving out of our current city cause it’s really small and theres no job oppurtunity here for me. He absolutely refused because his parents live here. I understand him not wanting to leave them because they are absolutely wonderful people but we have a family to think about. We cant even come to a compromise or talk about it because it’s his way or the highway. Last night when we were trying to talk he got mad and said “I cant talk to you anymore your pissing me off”. So I walked away, left him alone and went to do my laundry. I was in our closet hanging up clothes when he came to get a shower and he said “You always got to have a d*** attitude”. I said “I didnt do anything how do you always turn this on me”. He then said “That right there is wait I was waiting for. Your such a stupid b****”. I just walked out of the room and didnt talk to him anymore until today when he called. Then he tried to pretend like everything was ok like he always does. I told him how I felt about us not being able to talk or discuss things without him getting mad and calling me names. He told me that wasnt what I was upset about that I was upset that he wouldnt move away. No matter what I say or do i’m always in the wrong and he always tells me how it is that I feel and what i’m thinking. He does not listen and takes things so lightly. I really do love him and have comformed so much to his ways but I feel like i’m losing myself. Maybe it’s time for me to move on and focus on me and my children or maybe i’ll be making a big mistake??? I am so confused. He is the only man I have been with in any way you could think of. I dont know what to do!!

    • Hi Kathrine,

      Thanks for writing. It certainly sounds like you’re going through some tough times. A couple things occur to me.

      First, right off the bat, I have to say that your husband’s extreme emotional shifts sound…odd. Like there’s something else going on within him, some other struggle that perhaps he hasn’t told you about yet. Not that he’s “hiding” something, per se – just that maybe, for whatever reason, he hasn’t felt able to bring it up with you. Which isn’t to excuse his behavior, which is unacceptable. But I find that, in general, it’s always a good idea to assume that the other person has positive intentions behind their actions, even when their actions, on the face, seem negative. You mentioned “having to move out of your current house” which suggests that you’re going through some very stressful times. It’s not easy to go through adversity, especially when you’re feeling isolated from each other instead of connected.

      Second – if you have needs that are going unfulfilled, then the odds are pretty good that he does as well. Let’s face it – in marriage, it’s easy to just kinda proceed from day-to-day, and to lose sight of the attention required to actually keep a relationship alive and thriving. The good news is that most of the time these are problems that are easily solvable, once each partner has the opportunity to talk about their needs and show the other person how to best meet them. For instance, maybe he senses that you’re thinking about leaving. And doesn’t know how to respond, so he reacts out of fear.

      Third – I would say that given that you have children together, the *ideal* would be for the two of you to acknowledge that you’re having issues and to work on them – together. You could heal the conflict that’s currently dividing you, get on the same page, and go back to being good role models for your children in terms of how to have a thriving relationship with a spouse.

      You might have better luck getting all of this out in the open with your husband in a non-confrontational way if you talk together with a 3rd party present. I’d be happy to work with the two of you together – which would give you a chance to get some real clarity on where each of you are at. In a way that would help you stay focused on getting to a positive place for your relationship. Or you could find someone local.

      I will say that lately I have been learning some great strategies for getting couples on the same page. Which isn’t to say that ultimately you might make a different choice. But wouldn’t you want to know that you had truly exhausted your options before making such a drastic decision? If you and your husband truly come together, it could help you both navigate through your current situation and feel all the better for it.

      You can find information on my coaching services by following this link.

      Whatever you do – I wish you all the best. Take care of yourself and those kiddos!

  43. Hi there Lisa, this is Neil’s office assistant, Kate (soon to be replaced by Matt, just to give you the heads-up).

    It sounds like you definitely have some things to work and talk out. I would encourage you to set up a phone consultation with Neil as he has multiple jobs and the amount of time that he can put in to responding to comments online is very small at this time; hence me replying to you (and Matt in the future).
    If this is something that would interest you, you can send an email directly to or to to let us know what you availability is. You can find the payment link on Neil’s site. I understand that the prices are not cheap, but you are talking about love and quality of life, which is priceless.

    The little bit that I can offer you from my relationship experience is this: intuition is a powerful guide that contemporary society often neglects. If it is speaking to you it means you have something to work out in yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your fiance is a bad person or anything, but that there are issues with compatibility. If you are willing to stay with him even though you question it, what is that doing to you? And if you are finding yourself attracted to others (beyond the “just admiring beauty”) you have to ask if that is fair to your fiance if you stay with him while daydreaming of others.

    I cannot offer much advice, but Neil has professional experience in these matters and is a great listener, talker and brainstormer.

    I wish you the best in love and life.
    You know how to reach us if you would like to set up an official consultation.
    Be well

  44. Hi there Erika, this is Kate, Neil’s office assistant. As a heads up, we will have a new office assistant Matt who will be maintaining correspondence and such.

    It sounds like you definitely have a situation that is worth talking out with someone, and I would like to recommend that you schedule an official phone consultation with Neil. He has multiple jobs, and has very little time to respond to all of the comments that are posted on this site, hence me writing to you. I understand that the consultation prices are not cheap, but you are contemplating matters of love and quality of life which are priceless. If you would like to schedule a phone consultation please send an email directly to or to We can discuss availability and such.

    As a side, there is a little that I can offer on relationship advice, except that I went through a very similar situation with a man that I dated. I hung in there for 3 1/2 years, waiting for it to change, but ultimately I had to be the force of change. These are hard and confusing situations but ultimately you have to take care of yourself, you don’t owe anything to anyone who is not paying you back in someway (whether it be money or actions).

    I wish you the best in love and life.
    You know how to contact us if you would like to set up a consultation.
    Be well

  45. Hi there, this is Kate, Neil’s office assistant.

    It definitely sounds like you have a bunch to work through here. Neil has multiple jobs and has very little time to keep up with all of the comments and questions posted on here. I would like to encourage you to schedule a phone consultation. I realize that the prices are not cheap, but you are dealing with love and quality of life issues which are priceless. If you are interested please send an email directly to or to let us know your availability.

    I cannot offer much advice, especially compared to Neil’s experience and training, but I will say this: yes, love is about compromise and making it work….but ultimately you have to take care of yourself, this is your life….the “what is the point?” question is really important….what is the point of your relationship? is it a business? or is it to be a part of each other’s lives….inner peace is incredibly important.

    I wish you the best in life and love.
    You know how to contact us if you would like to schedule a consultation.
    Be well

  46. Hi there Sarah, Kate, Neil’s office assistant here.
    Neil has multiple jobs and does not have much time for responding to all of the comments and questions posted on here, so I would like to encourage you to schedule an official phone consultation. I realize that the prices are not cheap, but it is important to sort these things out with someone who is a good listener and is trained. If you are interested in this, please send an email directly to or to let us know your availability. You will find the payment link on his website.

    I cannot offer much advice in comparison to Neil’s experience, but I will say this: There are certainly lots of “knots” for you to consider, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about untangling them. Life is hard work and having good quality of life is included in that. Relationships can be tricky and especially when family is involved because there is a greater history now included in the situation. But, you are in charge of your own decisions and lifestyle, and those that are closest to you should want you to be happy. You have courage and you deserve great things, but that also means you have to do the leg work to get there.

    I wish you the best in love and life.
    You know how to contact us if you would like to schedule a consultation.
    Be well

  47. Jackie: This is Neil’s office assistant, Kate. He has multiple jobs and has very little time to respond to all of the comments/questions posted here. You obviously need someone to talk this out with (especially if your friends have distance themselves), so I would like to encourage you to set up a consultation with Neil. I understand that the prices are not cheap, but you are dealing with love and quality of life issues which cannot be priced. Please send an email directly to or if you are interested and would like to set up a consultation.

    I cannot offer much advice, especially compared to Neil’s experience and training, but I would like to offer this:
    Believe in the power of yourself, believe that you deserve good things. If you believe this, you will take actions as well. You cannot control what other people do, you can only control your own intentions, thoughts and actions — this is where your power is. I understand that change can be scary, but it is the force that allows for variety and newness in the world, it is the force that keeps us all in motion and learning.

    I wish you the best in love and life.
    Please contact us if you would like to set up a consultation.
    Believe in yourself

  48. Hi there, this is Neil’s office assistant, Kate. Neil has multiple jobs and has very little time to respond to all of the questions/comments posted on here. It sounds like you have some things to work through and I would like to encourage you to set up a consultation with Neil. He has alot of experience and training and is a great listener and brain-stormer. I understand that the prices are not cheap but you are dealing with love and quality of life issues which are priceless. If you are interested please send an email directly to or to let us know your availability. You can find the payment link on Neil’s website.

    I cannot offer much advice, especially in relation to Neil’s experience, but I would like to offer this:
    Love is everywhere and comes in many different forms, but there is only one of you. What you have to figure out, is, is it possible for you to fulfill yourself, to have “ME” time or whatever else you need to fulfill yourself and still be involved with this person? Relationships take effort and commitment, but there is also a point where you have to take the reins and take care of yourself, that is your responsibility. Your power is your decisions and actions, and that is huge. You need to believe in this power and you have to do the leg work to appreciate yourself and take actions to follow through. It is not an easy road, but it gets easier as you get used to doing it. There is alot of confusion between “taking care of one’s quality of life” and “being selfish”…..I am talking about being healthy, being happy, enjoying who you are as a person and interacting with the world, not being selfish and disregarding those that are around you. You should not feel guilty about wanting to take care of yourself.

    I wish you the best in life and love.
    Please get in contact with us if you would like to schedule a consultation.
    Be well

  49. Cilla — best wishes for you — I realize that I am responding a few months after the day you posted this. I hope all is well for you.
    I would recommend your first step, instead of hoping that there is love waiting for you, is to love yourself. Tap into that love, appreciate who you are as a personality, give thanks to your physical body for all that it has allowed to do, to experience in this world. Work on that. The more involved you get in that realm, the deeper your connection can be with others and you will find that love is waiting for you around every corner.
    Be wishes



  1. Relationship Advice: Practical thoughts on overcoming jealousy - Neil - check out this link for more specific advice about overcoming jealousy in a relationship
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