How to know when to fight for your relationship and when to leave

Relationships are never going to be perfect but some things can be too hard to work through
(Picture: Getty Images/

When relationships get tough, there’s one question that keeps popping up: should I stay or should I go?

It’s inevitable for difficulties to arise. As much as we may like to imagine relationships as all romance and butterflies, there are compromises to be made and hard conversations to have.

Even if you feel like you’re aligned on all of the big issues, sometimes it’s the little issues, like who does the dishes and whether they say ‘I love you’ enough, that tears people apart.

It can be hard in a relationship, one that doesn’t have any obvious red flags or more serious problems like abuse, to know whetherproblems are worth working through or a sign to leave.

Relationships take work and, despite what romantic comedies might have you believe, they are neither perfect nor easy. But, sometimes there is such a thing as too much work.

So, how do you know when those small issues are just minor inconsistencies that can be fixed or the basis of major incompatibility between you and your partner?

Sex and relationships coach Ness Cooper explains that while no one can tell you whether your relationship is healthy or unhealthy, or whether you should ‘stick it out’ or leave, there are certain signs that could point in either direction.

You should consider whether being part of the relationship is eroding your own sense of self
(Picture: Getty Images/fStop)

She says: ‘It’s something ultimately you need to come to the conclusion of and decide on, even if it is hard.’

She believes there is a possibility of working through any issue if both partners are prepared to do so.

‘All involved need to be on board,’ she notes. ‘Relationships are unpredictable and this time of trying to mend areas can feel very rocky’

She advises couples to seek support from a couples therapist or a sex and relationships coach to keep them on track of their individual and combined goals.

While third-party advice is always a good option, some people can feel like sticking it out is the only reason to attend couples therapy. That’s not true, as therapy can also help you work out that you don’t want to stay anymore.

‘It’s very easy to stick it out just because you have other interlinking goals and aims such as the desire for children, but you really have to think about whether or not you want to manifest these goals in a relationship structure that you don’t fully feel comfortable with,’ Ness tells us.

She advises above all that when things bother you in your relationship, whatever they might be, you should address them with your partner and talk it through – you don’t know what they’re thinking until you ask.

There is always scope to work through your problems if both partners are willing to do so (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘Anyone wishing to stay together should take time to work through the current relationship discrepancies with their partner fist,’ she continues. ‘It’s likely other conflicts will occur later on in the relationship too, as that’s just the natural fluidity relationships generally take, and the last thing you want is to let them pile up and collapse together.’

However, Cooper says: ‘If when addressing the current troubles with your partner, you are just being ignored no matter how often you try to bring them up to work through, then it may be time to leave.

‘The way healthy relationships work is by both aiming to make sure the relationship dynamic functions for both of you.’

Even though relationships are never going to be perfect, there is an issue where they’re one-sided.

You also have to consider whether the relationship tension is affecting any children you have together, as staying together for their sake might not be a better option, and whether there is room for you to be yourself.

A healthy relationship has to allow space for each partner to also be an individual, Ness adds: ‘If there’s no way to be you in the relationship, you need to really think about whether it’s worth staying around just for the relationship status.’

At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide whether fighting for your relationship is going to be worth it, or whether you should find someone who is better suited to your needs.

Everyone has a breaking point, a time to say ‘enough is enough’ when something has come up that is too hard for them to work through, such as cheating, disagreeing on big life plans, or something else.

Cooper says: ‘Generally when something is too hard to work through, it has conflicted greatly with your internal belief system to the point of shattering the things that stabilise you and the relationship.

‘When we realise that these conflicts are happening, we may feel our current partner has challenged, ignored, or disrespected not only the relationship structure but us too, and this can be a lot harder to work through when compared to trying to focus on something that just challenges either the relationship or your own personal beliefs.’

If your personal goals and your goals for a relationship are being pushed out of the window for the sake of your partner, then that does’t work, and it may be time to leave.

But, there is no shame in fighting for someone you love and for a relationship you want – if you believe that that is the right thing to do.

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