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Breaking up is the worst.
And not just because it makes you sad and regretful once you do it, but because deciding whether to part ways in the first place takes so much mental and emotional energy.
So here’s a framework that can help make the decision a little easier. It’s based on advice from Linda Carroll, a marriage therapist (and Courtney Love’s mom).
Carroll appeared on an episode of the “Art of Charm” podcast to talk all things love and relationships and shared four reasons to leave a relationship immediately:
1. Your partner is abusive
It doesn’t matter whether the abuse is physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, or financial, Carroll said. You need to leave.
Carroll added that even couples with major issues could figure out how to make the relationship work – but in the meantime, you should “get away and move away and protect yourself.”
2. Your partner has a character disorder that manifests in lying and jealousy
Carroll specified that this was a red flag only if “it’s constant – it’s not just a bad moment.”
Again, she said that if your partner is really committed to overcoming these issues, it’s possible to make the relationship work. But in the meantime, you should get some space.
3. You’ve done all you can do and it’s just not working
“It doesn’t mean that somebody’s bad,” Carroll said. “Maybe you got together because you were needy or you didn’t choose well.” Or maybe, she added, what worked for you at age 22 doesn’t work for you at age 40.
The point is that relationships take effort – but there’s only so much effort you can put in. At a certain point, it might be time to cut your losses.
4. You just know, ‘deep in your gut’
When you “just know” you need to call it quits, Carroll said, it’s not a “panicky” feeling.
It’s not that intense feeling of “I can’t stand this person!” that you get when they’re chewing too loudly. It’s also not that dramatic feeling of “I’d rather be single!” that arises when they tell the same story for the billionth time.
“You know, for your own reasons, that you really are done,” Carroll said. “It probably less to do with the other person than with you.”
Carroll also shared one very bad reason to leave a relationship: Your partner is an ordinary person.
If you don’t feel madly in love every day, or if the things that made you fall in love are now annoying you, that’s not a definite sign that you should break up.
In fact, other relationship experts seem to agree that sometimes being miserable, bored, frustrated, and/or angry is part of the deal when you get married. (The same logic probably applies to long-term relationships, too.)
As one marriage educator put it, “There will be times when one or both” people in a relationship “want out and can barely stand the sight of each other.”
Bottom line – and we know this is annoying – no one can make the breakup decision for you.