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8 Signs It’s Time To End The Relationship

8 Signs It’s Time To End The Relationship

Relationships are important – to each other, to our families, to our friends, to the people we care about. There comes a point in romantic relationships when things become serious and it becomes an actual Relationship, one where the idea of spending your life with this person and crafting your life together is a valid and understandable continuation of this relationship. When that isn’t achieved, the question becomes, ‘why not?’

Ending a relationship is no easier with age and experience, but sometimes we become so caught in patterns and schedules, the comfortable grooves of our lives, something as disruptive and jarring as ending a relationship can seem too much effort and fuss, even when we’re not at all happy. If you’re feeling as if you’re stuck in this place, searching for signs as to whether or not to break up, check out the list of go-to signs we’ve compiled for when it’s time to bite the bullet and end the relationship.

1. You don’t trust each other any more.

Trust is one of the most important parts of any relationship and when you lose that, it’s almost certainly time to end the relationship. The signs your relationship has gone through this is simple – you find yourself questioning the other person’s motives, abilities and reasons all the time. Everything from why she’s acting so nice to you, to how much you trust her to take something that is important to you and respect it.

If there’s mutual distrust on either side, it can lead to absolute crumbling of the relationship and the foundations it was built on, causing jealousy, anger, possessiveness and other negative feelings to leak free and poison the already tenuous relationship. Hitting this point is very hard to come back from and one of the reasons it might be right to end the relationship.

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2. You realize you have different values.

We all have our own values that are important to us – security, freedom, a conservative family, a liberal family, an open marriage. Whatever your values are, that’s fine, but when they begin to rub uncomfortably against your significant other, it might be an early warning sign all is not right in paradise and it might be time to end the relationship.

Every relationship has a process of compromise, negotiation and assimilation of your partner’s values into your life, but sometimes values are too distinct and different to ever be reconciled without a drastic compromise that will likely cause a rift as one of you struggles against what you really want and what you’ve decided you must become in order to fulfill the other person’s needs. If this is a serious problem in your relationship, it’s best for both parties to end the relationship and move on.

3. You no longer make plans with him or her in mind.

This one ties deeply into the idea if you’ve slowly been pushing your significant other out of your life psychologically, it’s time to actually remove them. We all make plans for the future, even if they only go so far as the next few weeks or month or so, and your significant other should always be considered as a part of them, even if the plans don’t directly involve him or her.

No longer making plans with your partner in mind is one of the major signs it’s time to end the relationship – if you’re not making plans with your significant other in mind, he’s no longer a big part of what you hold dear. If you’re subconsciously seeing him in a transient way, i.e. as if he’s not a permanent fixture or a solid part of your life, then you’ve already psychologically let go and are just treading water. End the relationship so both of you can move on.

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4. You no longer have any fun.

Relationships are supposed to be fun, and joyous, and if you’ve lost that from the relationship, it might be time to end the relationship if you find yourself unable to retrieve and reawaken the sense of fun you no doubt once shared with your significant other. Days have become dull, every attempt at excitement or some happiness-inducing activity is met with malaise or a general distaste for something that breaks you out of your routine. Nothing kills so much as endless, anodyne routine, and that’s the same with relationships.

A relationship should be responsible and grown up as well as fun, so there should always be a balancing of both sides. Being responsible and able to cut loose means you have the best of both worlds. If you’ve grown tired of the relationship, you’ve got to realize life is way too short to be with someone who doesn’t appreciate the same sort of fun you have, and if you’ve had this discussion more than enough times without gaining any compromise or leeway, it might be right to end the relationship.

5. You fantasize about life with someone else.

Everyone fantasizes – it’s a part of human nature, the ability to dream and creatively envision that which may or may not have been, or all that could have been, in either a positive or negative way. However, it begins to negatively affect your relationship when you cannot channel your energies into being in a relationship with your current significant other, instead choosing to daydream about a life with someone else – or, more honestly, anyone else.

This isn’t the same as having a little pleasant daydream about Liam Hemsworth or Kate Upton or Laverne Cox, and then going on in your daily life. The kind of fantasizing we’re talking about here is the persistent, half-serious daydreaming about someone who’s caught your eye and whom you could seriously see yourself sharing a life with. Maybe it’s the cute co-worker who always sits next to you and shares snacks with you, or the barista at the coffee shop who knows you by name and gives you a special smile. If you’re going down this route, then perhaps you’ve already given up on your relationship psychologically and emotionally, and it might be time to end the relationship you’re currently in.

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6. You can’t see a future with him or her.

The most important point of being in a relationship is the idea of creating a future together, shaping and designing your life you are actively choosing to share with your significant other. If you cannot imagine a future with this person, then it brings about the question about why you are in the relationship to begin with and why you’re choosing to remain in a situation with which you have little emotional investment.

That isn’t to say having casual relationships are stupid or pointless – they can be fun and an enjoyable experience – but if you’re in a full-on, long-term relationship with someone, the idea of spending the rest of your life with this person has to be a large contributing factor to the relationship. If you’re not seeing or wanting to envision a future with this person, then it’s time to end the relationship and move on.

7. You can’t get excited about the idea of marrying this person.

Marriage isn’t for everyone and that’s okay, but a way to assess whether or not it might be time to end the relationship, is to look to a possible future and imagine yourself getting married to your current partner. Not just the idea of marriage, but the whole shindig. The physical act of marriage. Chances are if you’re at the end of your relationship’s path, the idea of marrying this person and consigning yourself to potentially years of marriage with him or her sends a cold shiver down your spine and makes you feel absolutely terrified.

Getting married is a bit of an extreme circumstance, perhaps, but the idea of any form of strong, serious commitment with a person can induce feelings of panic and fear, and might be a strong indicator and sign it’s time to end the relationship. Things have run their course, maybe, and while it’s nice to cling to the idea of changing and getting over it, it’s not fair to the other person who might be more committed and ready to take that step where you cannot just yet.

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8. You realize he or she has become a stranger.

The final nail in any relationship’s coffin is the realization the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with is a stranger to you. Sure, you might have the memories and feelings you still do for this person – the weekend away, how you told him you loved him – but who he fundamentally is to you has drastically and perhaps irrevocably shifted and transformed.

You don’t have the same ideals, the same dreams, the same supportive bond to each other you used to have. He is not the person you fell in love with, the person you shared a relationship with, and can you really continue a relationship on that? It’s impossible, untrue, and unfair, both to yourself and to the other person involved. Finding yourself lying next to a stranger who you used to call your one true love means you have to end the relationship, or spend years in regret and lying to him and yourself about what you really want. Life’s too short, after all.

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Last Updated on June 12, 2018

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

The link to productivity

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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