Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

How to make a difficult relationship decision.

James E. McGinley, PhD


Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

Living our own life is hard enough. But when we share our lives with others things can get complicated fast. We sometimes come to a crossroads. We end up asking ourselves whether we should stay or whether we should go.

It is an incredibly difficult situation and it can be a gut-wrenching decision to make.

Part of the problem is that we don’t know the future. What we do not know is this. Will staying with the relationship be worth the effort? Will working through problems together result in a more firmly anchored sense of care, love, and loyalty? Or, is the relationship already in a death spiral and we just do not want to admit it?

Here is one thing we can ask ourselves to help us sort it all out. I am not saying this is the final answer. But it can help us face the realities more honestly and with greater clarity.

Ask yourself this, if I knew then what I know now would I have started this relationship?

This technique is helpful for more than just relationships.

It works for all sorts of dilemmas where we are not sure if we should stay with a decision. It helps bring the calculus more into view. It asks us to consider the facts, how things are now, and how we really feel about them. It helps us see whether our continued commitment makes sense or not.

Relationships often have a pattern where early passion and interest overshadow flaws. As the relationship goes on flaws often become more apparent. These flaws can drive people apart.

But not always.

Sometimes relationships deepen and mellow.

But not always.

When we are in a position where we are beginning to consider whether we should continue a relationship or other life decision, we probably have already received some signals that something is wrong. We need to find the space to think clearly and we need to do a bit of self-discovery about what is really going on, how we really feel about it, and what it means for our future.

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the future. But we can pause, reflect, and consider whether the current situation is sustainable, energizing, uplifting, and whether the problems are temporary. Or, whether the situation is risky, draining, and leading us into a long-term downward spiral.

James McGinley, PhD is a professor, author, certified life coach, and licensed counselor.Books/Blog FacebookInstagramYouTube, The Coping Expert, Twitter

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James E. McGinley, PhD

James McGinley, PhD is a professor, author, certified life coach, and licensed counselor.