By: Starielle Hope
One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “how do I know if I should stay in my relationship or end it?” If you are asking this question, it usually means that your relationship is in an incredibly challenging place. This is because emotional inertia is incredibly powerful.
Emotional inertia is a way of describing the emotional momentum that relationships have. When we are in a relationship, we become deeply entwined with our partner on many different levels. We feel emotionally connected to them. Our lives, our friends, our families become entwined with theirs, and we feel comfortable and safe when they are around. The longer we are in that relationship, the stronger the emotional inertia is that wants to keep us in that relationship. It’s much easier to stay together than it is to deal with the fallout from a breakup.
In order to end a relationship, your desire to end it must be stronger than the emotional inertia that is trying to keep you together. If you are considering ending the relationship, it’s a sign that the frustration, discomfort or unhappiness you are feeling is growing to a point where it may overcome this emotional inertia.
Every relationship is different, and the decision to transition out of a romantic partnership is one that only the individuals in the partnership can make. However, if you are trying to figure out whether now is the right time to transition your relationship and are having trouble deciding, I invite you to consider two main questions.
- Is this relationship feeding you energetically or is it draining you?
- Is your desire to potentially end the relationship coming from a place of love, or a place of fear?
Is this relationship feeding you energetically or is it draining you?
One of the most obvious signs I look for to see if someone is in a relationship that is good for them or not is to look for whether their self-expression has expanded or contracted. Most of us have had that friend who entered into a relationship that provided a great deal of confidence and safety for them. As a result, they felt more comfortable taking risks and their self-expression became bigger. Maybe they started to crack more jokes or dive more deeply into art, music, or some other creative skill. Maybe you could just see it in their body language, they began to hold themselves with more confidence, stand straighter, more comfortable speaking their mind.
To me, this is what it looks like when a relationship is feeding us. In a relationship where two partners challenge and support each other equally, the partners are able to accomplish more together than either could on their own.
On the other hand, if one partner is supporting the other most of the time, or being criticized a lot, I often see the opposite effect. I see at least one partner becoming smaller. This could show in their body language, maybe they become more quiet, maybe they give up activities or friends that used to be important to them.
Sometimes a relationship is wonderful and is feeding both partners for a period of time and then somewhere along the line this switches and the relationship becomes draining.
There is always an opportunity to recognize and reflect on parts of your relationship that may be draining you and parts that may be feeding you. You can work with your partner to see if it is possible to understand why one or both of you is more often critical than you are celebratory of each other.
Is your desire to potentially end the relationship coming from a place of love, or a place of fear?
The concept of this one is simple, but the answer can be complex. Is your desire to end the relationship coming from a place of love for yourself or your partner? Maybe from a deep knowing that the relationship isn’t honoring, supporting, or serving one or both of you anymore? Or is the desire to end the relationship coming from a place of fear? Perhaps fear of loss of control, loss of freedom, or fear that you don’t actually deserve love or deserve this person as your romantic partner?
The only way I’ve ever been able to uncover the truth of this is with patience and contemplation. You also may want to ask for guidance and/or feedback from trusted friends, family, or a spiritual guide. It can also be helpful to take some time and physical space away for our partner to gain a deeper clarity. Sometimes we are just too close to our own relationship to be able to see the dynamics clearly.
If a relationship is draining you energetically, and you feel clear that your desire to transition a romantic partnership is coming from a place of love for yourself, your partner, or both, it is probably time to make that change. If this doesn’t feel clear yet, I invite you to take more time to dive inward and tune into your favorite form of introspection with patience and trust that the clear answer will come.
Photo by Justin Rosenberg