Making the decision to end a relationship is never easy. There is a feeling of hope that you hang on to, which makes it hard to bite the bullet and end a bad relationship once and for all. If you have children, this decision is even harder. It’s probably the hardest decision you’ll ever make in your life, because you want to make sure you’re making the best decision for you and your kids. And no one dreams of being a single mum.
It can feel like a selfish decision, because you may think it’s better for the kids to have two parents who are together. But this is very wrong. Children suffer if they are living in an unhealthy or toxic environment. Your children will thrive and be happy, if you are. Sure it’s a long road to getting your life back on track, and adjusting to the changes, but everyone will survive and get back on their feet.
Should you end your relationship?
If you are struggling with the decision, here are 5 reasons why you know it’s over.
1. There is domestic violence involved.
Any form of domestic violence is not OK. This includes physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse. There are plenty of organisations to help you remove yourself and your children from a situation like this. See here for some organisations that may be able to help you. You can also call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) which is a 24 hour, national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, or Lifeline on 13 11 14, a 24 hour service that can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your area. White Ribbon also has some great resources for help.
2. Your partner is a narcissist.
A narcissist is a person with a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour, characterised by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others’ feelings. These people are notoriously difficult to maintain a long term relationship with. Because at the end of the day, you’re never going to get the healthy relationship you crave and deserve. Narcissists lack empathy, so will not care much for your feelings at all. People like this don’t often change. You may be holding out hope for quite a while (i.e. forever).
3. You have lost your sense of identity, self-worth and confidence that you used to have.
Sometimes if you are in an unhealthy relationship, or in an emotionally abusive relationship you just get so battered down that you end up a broken shell of who you used to be. You often wonder where the person who you used to be went. I’m not talking about the pre-child party animal who has disappeared (some things are inevitable when you have children), but I’m talking about how you were as a person. Did you used to love spending time with your family and friends, and now you never see them because your partner discourages it? Are you apologising for everything that you do? Have you turned into a timid person, afraid to speak your mind? Have you stopped doing what you loved, because your partner belittles you? If this rings true to you, you deserve so much better.
4. Your children are suffering.
Is your relationship so bad, that your children are suffering? Are they living in a house where shouting, screaming and arguing are normal? Do they hide, or talk about how sad they are when you fight? Or have they started calling you terrible names, because they have heard their parents call each other names? All of this behaviour is not normal, and your children deserve to grow up in a happy, healthy home. The unhealthy behaviour they are witnessing is either distressing them so much, that it is having a real negative effect on their mental health, or they find it completely normal, and may grow up thinking that is the normal way to treat people. Either way, this can have very bad consequences on children.
5. You have been going to counselling or psychologists together forever, with no positive change to the relationship.
At some point you have to ask yourself: is this counselling working for my relationship? I was seeing a relationships counsellor for a year with my ex, and we never got anywhere. The reason was because we were just so different. We had different values, different goals, and different opinions on how to live life. Neither of us could compromise on anything, because we stood so firm in our beliefs. One day I asked the counsellor “at what point do we just say ‘maybe this is never going to work? Maybe we need to end our relationship?’”. She told me that she couldn’t ever see us working out, because we just had so many different opinions on every little thing, and more importantly, on the BIG things. Unfortunately, some things just aren’t meant to be.
Of course only you can know if it’s time to end the relationship, but if you can relate to any of these five things, then these are some massive red flags that you should be aware of.