Relationships require a vast amount of investment in terms of time, money, and most of all emotional energy. The more you invest in your relationship, the more it shapes your choices and ultimately your life. When you have so much invested, it can be hard to let go, for reasons such as worrying about the impact on the kids, wondering if you have really put forth enough effort to work things out, or the fear of being alone. But when a relationship deteriorates, there is inevitably always a time when the damage has been done, and no amount of salvaging can save it. Knowing when to let go is key to being able to cut your losses, maintain your own mental health and well-being, and move forward toward the better relationship you deserve. Below are 4 signs that it's time to let go of your relationship. If even one of these exists, it is likely enough of a reason to move on.

1. The goodness is gone.

While chemistry and shared values are important, at the end of the day, solid relationships are built on the goodness that exists between two people. Goodness is what holds relationships together. It is the kindness, the good will toward each other, the being on that person’s side even when they might be wrong, the willingness to forgive flaws and mistakes, the tolerance for their annoying habits. It’s the support, the admiration, the respect, the dedication, and commitment you have with each other. The goodness doesn’t generally disappear overnight; it’s something that erodes slowly over time. Behaviors that indicate the goodness may be waning include chronic irritability, anger, distance, meanness, and lack of respect of any kind. Unfortunately, once the goodness fades, there has generally been so much hurt in the relationship that it is very hard to regain.

2. You are being disrespected.

Respect is one of the most important aspects of any relationship; it even trumps trust, because you cannot trust someone who disrespects you. Even small slights matter, because the way someone treats you ultimately reveals their character and their true feelings about you. Disrespect can come in many forms, and you may not always fully recognize it on the surface, but you will always feel it. It's that kicked-in-the-gut feeling you get when some normative expectation that exists within the relationship has been violated. Behaviors such as insults, lying, or cheating are all disrespect and what they really show is a lack of concern about how you feel and the impact these behaviors have on you.

If you’re not sure if someone is being disrespectful or just unaware, tell the person how their behavior is making you feel, and see what happens. If the person makes an effort to understand your perspective and alter their behavior, they are showing you that they care, but if they dismiss you or go right back to the same behavior, then they are showing a lack of respect for you and your relationship.

3. You are trying too hard.

The energy flow between two people in most healthy relationships is generally fairly equal. The give-and-take should allow both people, for the most part, to feel they are getting their needs met. When a relationship starts to deteriorate, it can feel like one person is doing all the work to maintain the relationship, which creates an unbalance and a disconnect. The person doing all the work can become resentful, and the person on the receiving end can become more and more complacent. When you try too hard to get someone to come toward you, what generally happens is they move in the opposite direction. If you feel you’ve been doing most of the work in the relationship lately, take a big step back and see what happens. If your partner starts to pick up the slack and come toward you, then the possibility of re-aligning the energy still exists. If, however, you step back, and your partner gets angry or continues to drift further away, then chances are, he or she isn’t coming back.

4. It’s all about the other person.

While all relationships are different, both people should generally feel there is room for them to grow and develop, to feel like their individual dreams and aspirations in life matter. They should feel there is space for their interests to be included in the relationship, and that there is enough opportunity for each person’s needs to be met. Relationships that are unbalanced in this respect tend to revolve around one person. The person whom the relationship revolves around is generally satisfied with this arrangement, while the other person ends up feeling resentful, used, and like they are living someone else’s life. If you feel like the relationship is all about the other person, try creating some space for yourself and being vocal about your needs; if the other person gets upset or isn’t responsive, then it is likely that to find yourself and maintain your own identity, you may have to move on. 

Saying goodbye is never easy, but maintaining your self-respect and dignity is key to your mental well-being, and sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for yourself. Know that when you take care of you, you are putting yourself in the best possible position to be in a happy, healthy, and fulfilling relationship, and it is just a matter of time before you find one. 

For more, see "How to Move On When You Still Love Your Ex," or watch my Tedx Talk, "Why You Don't Get What You Want." 

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