When and How to Terminate a Relationship - Part 2
- Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Terminating a relationship—a romantic relationship—successfully requires enormous skill. Unfortunately both people usually do not agree on how or when this should be done. This is a big part of the problem-that they don't agree.
There are several considerations that relate to successful termination. One of the most important ones has to do with feeling confident that you have waited long enough—that you have given the relationship every chance to demonstrate its long-term quality—that you won't look back and wish like everything that you had waited just a little longer.
In the first part of this five part series we talked about using six months as a general guide for determining how long to work on a new relationship. I believe that, after six months, if things aren't working they probably never will.
Idea Number Two
If the two of you have had some very stormy times you probably don't even need to wait six months. Long enough is long enough when indeed something very unacceptable has happened between the two of you. And what is this unacceptable thing?
First of all, if physical abuse has taken place between the two of you in a dating relationship, think about how much more likely then physical abuse is going to be a part of any future relationship. About the time there is physical abuse between you and a person you are dating, I say back away from that relationship. That's long enough.
I don't condone any kind of physical abuse. In fact, I do a lot of work on radio and television having to do with anger mismanagement and I say to spouses all the time, "If your spouse abuses you, you call 911 and report your spouse." Report this person you're dating.
I don't care if it's a woman or a man because what we know is that the likelihood of repeating abuse in the future is great if indeed there is no intervention by a legal authority. If there is intervention by a legal authority we have so much better chance of rectifying the situation and making it unlikely it will happen again.
If between you and the other person there is loud yelling, I say, I don't like that. As a matter of fact, if I got into a situation with someone in which yelling got out of control, I would wonder if long enough is already long enough. Belligerent behavior of any kind is unacceptable, like intimidation: "If you don't do that, I promise you I'm going to do this to you." I mean, I don't like intimidation like that. That might make me think, "This marriage is going to have a lot of trouble should we ever get married." I might want to back away from that relationship pretty fast.
While I believe that anger mismanagement can be significantly changed, experiences of this mismanagement usually do tremendous damage to a couple's trust level, and repeated experiences are nearly impossible to overcome.
So, if you're in a relationship right now in which there is any physical abuse, in which there is this kind of loud yelling, or in which you feel fearful for your own safety at times and the other person is intimidating, I say it has been long enough. I just want you to move away from that situation as quickly and as well as you can. There's so much likelihood that not only will it continue, but it will continue on a more frequent basis should you get married.
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