Do you keep finding yourself wondering if someone else would be a better match for you than your significant other?
Maybe you continually catch yourself complaining about how your partner isn’t there for you, constantly drives you crazy, or you feel like you don’t really know each other anymore?
What should you do when the question that’s steadily on your mind is, “Should I stay or should I leave?”
Experiencing uncertainty in your relationship is nerve-racking and stressful. When you’re uncertain of your partner, it can feel like a roller coaster of emotions and doubts, but it doesn’t have to last.
Like many of the blocks we face in our life and relationships, feelings of uncertainty are often rooted in fear—the fear of loss and heartbreak, the fear of losing our independence and, most common of all, the fear of the unknown. We sometimes further fuel that uncertainty by trying to protect ourselves from fear by pulling away, looking for reasons to justify it, and even breaking up with someone before they hurt us.
Ask yourself: Are you possibly fretting within your relationship due to fear, one you’ve acknowledged or … need to?
Uncertainty in your relationship can also be an expression of relationship ambivalence, or a state of having mixed feelings about something or someone. Rather than wanting out of the relationship, per se, either one or both people feel chronically disconnected and dissatisfied in the relationship—but not bad enough to divorce or breakup—and the relationship continues, unhappily.
If you’re tired of feeling uncertain and you want the question of “Should I stay or should I leave?” off your plate for good, you’ll need to make a decision about the relationship so you can either get out or get it going again.
Getting out makes sense if the relationship is unbearable, or dangerous. Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide if getting out is your best move:
- Does this relationship bring out the best in me?
- Do I feel happy or upset the majority of the time?
- Am I having to sacrifice more than I should for the relationship?
- Do we share the same passions and goals for our future?
- Are we fighting more than we’re laughing?
- Do I really love him/her, or just the person I want them to be?
- Would I regret it later if I didn’t end the relationship today?
- Do they add value to my life?
- Would my life be better without them in the picture?
On the other hand, should you decide that you’re more interested in working together with your partner to improve your relationship, opportunity is possible for both personal growth and evolution within your relationship.
A key component is getting in touch with what you truly want and learning to express it in a way that will be heard and respected. While old habits are hard to break, especially if apathetic and disconnected ways have become the norm in your relationship, creating new habits through mindfulness and practice is more than possible.
Try the following exercises to strengthen your level of connection within your relationship:
- Learn to recognize your painful feelings. When painful feelings are triggered (through arguing, for example, or even distance or emotional unavailability from your partner), learn to stop, breathe, and identify how you’re feeling in your body. Your body can tell you what’s truly going on emotionally for you. For example, the lump in your throat typically indicates sadness. Tension in your jaw, arms, or hands can indicate anger. Twinges or flutters in your abdomen can indicate fear. Name the feeling (silently or aloud), breathe more deeply, and let the feeling dissipate. This mindfulness-based stress reduction can help you recover your composure so you can reengage with your partner in healthy, calm, and centered ways that build your connection.
- Avoid stating what’s arguable. Making arguable statements only leads to arguments. Examples include, “You always…”, “You never….”, “You’re so….” or “You’re just trying to…”. Criticisms, judgments, assessments, even observations and memories of what just happened are all arguable. These types of statements are not helpful and will not get you and your partner closer to what it is you want.
- Identify what it is you really want. Express in simple terms what it is you truly want. Avoid saying things like, “I want you to stop acting like a jerk,” but rather try something basic and true about you, such as, “I want to feel understood,” “I want to save money for important goals,” or “I want to spend time doing things we both enjoy.” This invites your partner to better know you and your needs, and also invites him or her to help you get what you want, which leads to more connection and satisfaction. Invite each other to express your hearts’ desires and work out ways to both get what you want. The result is a more rewarding partnership.
Ultimately, only you can decide which direction—getting out or getting better within your relationship—is the right move for you. However, the way to stop feeling uncertain about your relationship is to make a decision about which option you’re working toward. Once decided, the angst of “Should I stay or should I leave?” will lift and you’ll be able to clearly work toward your chosen path.