How do I get out of a relationship that I know isn’t right for me, but I can’t seem to make the jump?
Thank you for writing in. Great question. 🙂
I have some initial questions:
First, how do you know they’re not right for you? Do you fight a lot? Feel small in their presence? Get triggered a lot? Feel bored around them? Feel uninspired by them? Feel like things are nice, but not as exciting or incredible as you really want? Feel disconnected or not as passionately connected as you’d like to feel with someone?
Second, why don’t you think you can make the jump? Is it because you really care about this person and don’t want to hurt them? You really care about this person and don’t want to lose them? You are afraid to be alone? You like how they treat you? You don’t like how they treat you and you hope it’ll get better?
Before you can figure out how to leave, you’ll need to figure out why you want to leave and why you can’t seem to. There’s SO MUCH MEANING in the why. And the reason is this: If you just leave when it doesn’t yet feel 100% right to leave — then you are missing out on an opportunity to learn more about yourself and areas where you are ready to grow as a person, and in your romantic relationship space. The hesitation to leave doesn’t mean this person is the right person for you, it just means that there’s meaning in the hesitation… and it’s likely an old pattern that’s trying to break in you (e.g. getting into relationships with people who aren’t right for you or always staying with people who aren’t right for you longer than you should).
I call the hesitation you’re feeling “resistance”. And I always say that there’s meaning in the resistance. So much meaning. Because the resistance is our intuitive knowingness, saying “something isn’t quite right” or “something isn’t aligned yet” or “a learning cycle hasn’t completed yet”. To just turn a blind eye to the resistance and proceed with leaving your current partner before it feels 100% right to do so would only set you up for another relationship in which you’re going to feel the same way — because there’s a lesson to learn, some personal growth gasoline to fill up on, and it’s yours for the taking. The awakening could happen by the time you finish reading this coaching response, it could happen tomorrow, or it could happen weeks/months from now. Once you do the work to find the reason for the hesitation, you’ll have the clarity you need to take your next step with certainty, peace in your heart, and ease. AND — you’ll likely also have the information you need to either attract in someone you’re more compatible with and can foster a deeper connection with OR you’ll discover your partner really is perfect for you and you’ll learn ways to deepen the connection to them. But you gotta do the inner work; hopefully this coaching response will help you to do so. 🙂
A changed experience can only happen to a changed mind.
In order to get to the bottom of answering the question I posed to you about how do you know this person is not right for you, you may find that you have a knee-jerk response and you already think you know exactly why. But, here’s what I’d recommend: Write out your knee-jerk responses on paper and then ask yourself if any of the items you listed are items that are coming from a place of pain or fear in you. For example, let’s say your partner wants to see you all the time and you hate that. You’d need to ask yourself if you hate it because you’re afraid of getting close to someone/being loved OR is it because they’re just not someone you want or enjoy spending that much time with. You see what I mean? One comes from a place of pain/fear and the other comes from a more practical/rational truth regarding incompatibility. Before you leave, get clear with yourself about why you really want to leave.
To help with this assessment, it will be really cathartic for you to do the opposite exercise as well and write down all the qualities and characteristics you’re really looking for in a partner. Getting clear with what we’re REALLY looking for helps us to not settle for whatever comes our way. Getting clear with what we’re REALLY looking for also helps us to know when he/she arrives — as well as when the person in front of us doesn’t fit these criteria. I wrote another post on this topic, give it a read as I think it’ll be really helpful to you. It’s linked here.
Getting clear with what we’re looking for is a powerful way to hold ourselves accountable for creating the kinds of relationships we crave. It also removes some of the hidden, subconscious blocks and patterns that prevent us from experiencing what we say we want. If you can believe this: the overwhelming majority of people are deeply subconsciously afraid of having the mind-blowing relationship they dream of. And the fear creates patterns and programs within them that prevent them from ever having what they want; they sabotage themselves without knowing it and they settle for less than what they want because the patterns running on auto-pilot tell them it makes sense to. The exercises I’m recommending in this free coaching response will help you to see some of the hidden patterns that are blocking your perfect relationship from coming through for you, so that you choose if you want to keep the patterns or remove them.
Now, let’s try to figure out why you’re struggling / finding it hard to leave. Earlier in this coaching response, I asked you some questions. I’m going to list them again for simplicity’s sake, but this time I’m going to add some extra commentary, some extra thoughts to consider. The questions I posed earlier are in bold italics below.
You really care about this person and don’t want to hurt them?
If this is the case, wouldn’t staying with them, even though you don’t want to be with them, be even more hurtful? Wasting their time? You’d have them continue to put forth effort, energy, time, trust, love… continuing to invest in you, the relationship, and togetherness — all because you want to keep them from hurting? Sounds a little cruel and selfish when it’s broken down like that, doesn’t it? To be honest with you, when people do this, it’s not really the other person they want to protect. They want to protect themselves from the sadness they’ll feel by making a decision that hurts another person. As loving, kind people, we generally don’t want to hurt other people or do something that could create hurt in them. But, I know from personal experience that the short-term sadness you/they may feel when you leave pales in comparison to the long-term pain one feels when someone stays and doesn’t want to be there; that’s betrayal to ourselves and the other person and it’s a deep one.
Additionally, every time someone says they’re staying because they don’t want to hurt the other person, I always gently let them know that means all they’re doing is trying to control the other person’s feelings and the other person’s experience of life — and it’s not kind. Kind is being truthful and honest about your reservations and hesitations and letting them decide if they want to stay while you (or both of you) figure things out. Ya know? It’s not kind to deceive someone — even when we’re doing it out of what we’re erroneously trained to believe is “loving”.
You really care about this person and don’t want to lose them?
I can understand this too. And, it’s normal, natural, kind, and sweet to care about someone and to enjoy their company and companionship. If this is the case, I’d recommend you tell the person how you’re really feeling (once you figure out what you’re really feeling!) and let them make the choice if they want to stay knowing they may not be the one for you. At least this way, you stay in integrity with honesty and kindness, and you give them the opportunity to do what’s right for them. The irony is that being honest with the person in this way — being open, truthful, and vulnerable — may open up a whole new and exciting dimension in your relationship, one that could bring greater intimacy, attraction, and depth.
On the other hand, if you are just using them — almost like a parent uses a pacifier with their baby — and you really know that you don’t want a future with them, then let them go and allow yourself to feel all the pain you may feel as a result of walking away from someone you care about but you know isn’t right for you. Sometimes we stay in relationships that aren’t the right fit simply because we’re afraid of feeling the temporary pain associated with walking away from someone we care about. You can care about someone and want more. You can care about someone and walk away because you know they’re not right for you and what you’re looking for. In fact, walking away under these terms is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and the other person. It’s what loving ourselves and others unconditionally can really look like.
Side note: I did this recently with someone I dated briefly and care a lot about because I just knew that some of his lifestyle choices were not aligned with what I admire, respect, and appreciate in a romantic partner (because I am crystal clear on what I want and on my deal breakers — he had some deal breakers in there). Honoring myself and honoring him meant honoring my deal breakers and warmly, lovingly letting him go be who he is — rather than needing him to change to fit who I need him to be or resenting him for never being able to meet my needs. In other words, he’s perfect, just as he is. In fact, he’s an incredible human being and an incredible man. He’s just not right for me romantically. Make sense?
On the flip side, many years ago, I stayed in a relationship with someone who was absolutely not the right fit for me. And because I wasn’t clear about what I wanted, nor was I clear on much of anything related to my pain, fears, and personal growth, I settled for a dynamic that was not serving to anyone. And as the woman I am now, I wish I had the information then that I’m sharing with you now; I wish I had known what I wanted and how to be in integrity with my wants and needs. Learning these strategies and tools changed my life immeasurably; it is truly mind-blowing, and more than the mind can conceive. And I feel so blessed to be able to share it all with you now. Truly.
You are afraid to be alone?
If this is the case, there’s some really powerful and important self-work for you to do here and I’m so thankful you wrote to me to learn. Because staying in a relationship that’s not fulfilling or not right for you simply because you’re afraid to be alone will always end in sadness in your inner and outer world — because you’re staying not out of love but out of need and/or out of fear. So learning ways to comfort and soothe yourself will be important for you. Learning how to be alone and be okay being alone will be important for you — and I don’t mean just being physically alone (like physically by yourself), I mean being alone emotionally – learning how to nurture yourself, talk with yourself, listen to your own thoughts and feelings, comfort and soothe yourself.
In other words, if you’re staying because you’re afraid to be alone, you have some really powerful and important areas where you’re being invited to grow as a person. And I’m really excited and happy for you. 🙂 When I learned how to nurture myself, talk with myself, listen to myself, listen to my feelings, and comfort and soothe myself — all my addictions fell away from me; I no longer needed my constant dysfunctional companions, which for me were my alcohol, TV, cigarettes, and dysfunctional relationships. I no longer needed my escapes.
If you’re staying in the relationship because you’re afraid to be alone, it’s possible that you’re using this person as an escape — just like someone would use a bottle or a smoke. But you don’t have to. You can be grateful that you’re being given the gift of seeing this beautiful, tender fear in yourself (the fear of being alone) — and you can appreciate that by being given the gift of seeing it, it means you’re ready to heal it. And you can begin teaching yourself how to be alone. I can help you with this as well. Write in to me, or search our database. We’ve got you.
You may also find these two resources helpful: A video I recorded on learning on how comfort and soothe yourself. A post I wrote on how our feelings don’t always need to make sense.
You like how they treat you?
If this is the case, I can understand this. Who doesn’t like to be around someone who treats them in the ways they like to be treated. But, obviously, how someone treats you is not always enough. Do the work I mentioned above about getting clear with what you’re looking for in a partner and what attributes or characteristics your partner would need to have for you to respect them, value them, appreciate them, admire them, and love them. At the end of the day, we need the following things in order to have a happy romantic relationship:
- Best friend chemistry
- Sexual chemistry
- The ability to respect, admire, appreciate, and love our partner — how they show up, how they make decisions, how they treat other people, how they treat themselves, how they treat us, the kinds of choices they make, etc. AND we need to also know that our partner respects, admires, appreciates, and loves the same in us.
If there isn’t respect, admiration, appreciation, and love for how each person shows up for/in life, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with either person — it just means one or both of you respect, value, admire, and appreciate different qualities than what the other brings to the table. It’s not personal, it’s just preference. As people desiring of happy romantic lives, we must begin to accept and appreciate our individual preferences and values — rather than spending years denying our preferences/values or resenting the people we end up in romantic relationships with when they don’t live up to them. Because once the sexual chemistry wanes (if ever and especially after babies), the best friend chemistry and the ability to respect, admire, and appreciate one another will sustain and continue to feed the bond, the love, and the sexual chemistry forever. Without these attributes, the relationship is likely to be unhappy, unfulfilling, or die out, as there was never really anything meaningful holding it together.
You don’t like how they treat you and you hope it’ll get better?
If this is the case, truly consider why you’re staying and why you’re rolling out a red carpet for what you consider to be poor treatment. Also, ask yourself if their treatment is really poor or if you are just triggered because of your own old pain that gets lit up when they do what they do. What I mean by this is sometimes our pain forces us to misinterpret or distort reality and we believe someone is being hurtful or mean to us but really they’re just hitting a trigger within us that’s attached to some old painful memory/wound from years’ past. If you’re unsure whether it’s poor treatment versus a wound that’s getting triggered, write to me here and include details about what the treatment is and how it makes you feel and I can help you to sort out if the dislike is because it’s truly bad treatment or because you are a bit triggered around a particular area because of your subconscious pain (and ready to heal). You can also learn more about this concept by reading this coaching response and watching the video where I talk about rational versus irrational feelings.
Now, once you’ve done the work and assessed the situation logically, not emotionally, you should have more clarity about why it’s been hard for you to make the jump to leave. And once you know why — the real why — you may find that just knowing the “real why” automatically clears up any of the resistance that was making it hard for you to break it off. If this is the case, you will have found your reason for the resistance and you can move forward with breaking it off with a clear, pure, and full heart.
Alternatively, once you do the work, you may also find that you get additional clarity around your fears and Truth (which are rarely the same thing) and you may find that the whole reason you wanted to leave was out of fear, such as to avoid getting hurt, feeling loved, being loved, loving someone, being abandoned, being betrayed, etc. In other words, it’s entirely possible that the desire to leave is not your Truth but instead a programmed response you have to being close to another person, in which case you get to choose in the present moment if you want to keep running that same old, worn-out program and leave this person too or if you want to dig in, choose to stay, be honest about your fears and your pain (source them, understand them, honor them) and heal, plus grow. This latter part — finding our fears and pain and understanding them, honoring them — is hard work, but even harder is spending the rest of our lives operating based on them. Because living our lives based on our fear-based programming means that our fears will always find a way to block our dreams from coming true. And we will sabotage ourselves over and over again, without even knowing we’re doing it.
Anyway, Trisha, I hope this information has been helpful to you. If you were in front of me, I’d tell you a million other things to prepare you for figuring this whole situation out and give you more tools to do so, but alas you’re not in front of me, so I’ve tried to be as thorough as I can be without any specific details to go on. If you have something specific you’d like to work through, please reach back out and give me the details. I’d be happy to create another free coaching response for you to help you get the clarity you (and the person you’re dating!) deserve. 🙂
Important note: Everything I’ve written, I’ve written under the premise that this is not an abusive relationship in any way, shape, or form. If the relationship is abusive, seek support in your local area and get help with your transition out. There will still be things for you to work through, but they will be different and need to be handled differently.
I send you love, wisdom, and clarity. Thank you for writing in. I know you’ve got this!
With love, gratitude, grit, and grace,
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