George Eliot once said “What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined… to strengthen each other… to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.” At our deepest core, each of us crave a life partner to share this kind of connection with. Sometimes, however, we become so desperate for this soul-level partnership that we might settle for less than we deserve. While most relationship struggles can be overcome with hard work and compassion, there are some things that will stop even the most promising of connections from being able to grow. In these situations, it is best to simply abandon ship.
Here are four signs that your relationship is not worth saving:
1. You, alone, are doing all the work.
Relationships are very difficult to keep going, and both partners need to be one hundred percent invested to make it work. No matter how much effort you are putting in, your partnership will not last unless your significant other is working equally hard. You both need to be giving it all you’ve got. The tremendous amount of compromise, forgiveness, and affection that a healthy partnership requires is too much for one person to bear alone. If you are in a one-sided relationship, it might be time to leave and find somebody who is willing to share the weight and treat you with fairness and respect.
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2. Your life plans are incompatible.
He wants to settle down and start a family, and she wants to travel the world. She wants a big house in the suburbs to fill with children, and he wants to spend the next ten years doing missionary work in Africa. I’ve seen it a million times – partners who are deeply in love, but are not headed to the same destination. If one partner drags the other along unwillingly, they will both be dissatisfied in the end. One will have made an unfair compromise, and the other will be with a partner who deeply resents them and does not share their love of the life they’ve built together. Eventually they will be forced to part ways.In Charles F. Glassman wrote “Before you find your soul mate, you must first discover your soul.” To find a partnership that works, be true to your soul and seek out a person whose life path matches your own.
3. You push each other away when things get hard.
Even if you come back together beautifully during the good times, this is a huge red flag. You are likely not past the toughest times you will face as a couple. There are a million more struggles waiting for you down the road, and some of them will be far too much for you to face alone. Learning to lean on your partner during the hard times can be a difficult skill to master, especially if you have a strong sense of independence. It is absolutely necessary, though. These struggles are the “make or break” points in most relationships. Coming together during a challenge will strengthen your love and sense of trust in one another. Pushing your partner away will weaken your bond and breed insecurities, which could ultimately cause the relationship to come undone.
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4. You do not accept one another’s authentic self.
Everyone has flaws. One of the best parts of being in a committed relationship is knowing your partner will love you despite them. Your significant other should be a soft place for you to fall, even if your make-up is running down your face and your hair is a hot mess. That’s not to say you shouldn’t work on your shortcomings – both of you need to be bringing your best self to the relationship. However, if your partnership is going to be a happy one, your best needs to be enough. Sometimes your partner’s best self might be running an hour late, burning dinner, or leaving muddy footprints on the kitchen floor. Sometimes your best self might be irritable, pretentious, or hopelessly scatterbrained. Life is hard, and you need to be able to lean on your significant other to get through it – even when you’re at your most unappealing. A partner who makes you feel self-conscious and guilty when it comes to your flaws will lower your self-esteem and chip away at the trust in your relationship. As Thomas Merton said, “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Deciding to let go of a partnership is always difficult. However, by breaking free of a relationship that is keeping you down, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of a stronger and safer one. Be strong, and do not settle for less than you deserve. There is someone out there who will put in the effort, share your dreams, let you cry on their shoulder, and love you for exactly who you are. Go and find them.