In this post, we will start with the first 10 questions you need to answer to find out whether you should leave or stay. Remember, if one answer indicates you should leave, its value in answering your question takes precedence above your answers to all other questions! (For more detail on how to use this diagnostic tool, refer to the break-up guidelines)
1 – Think back on the happiest time in your life as a couple. Was everything really good between the two of you? (No exhausting fruitless fights where disagreements remained unresolved; actually enjoying EACH OTHER rather than merely enjoying the THINGS you were doing together; actually spending time together back then OTHER than for the things you most enjoyed; not one continuously being disappointed in the other, etc.)
If your answer is “no” – leave. Don’t try to repair something which never worked.
If your answer is yes, first go through the other questions before concluding you should stay.
2 – Has one of you been physically violent to the other MORE than once?
If your answer is “yes” – leave. Love’s place is as your servant, not as your master. Don’t let it blind you, just let it help you get happy.
Female victims often don’t leave abusive men, because their men are masters of making up for it and expressing how truly sorry they are. (See here for how that works.) Likewise, abusive women often keep reign over a man because society keeps nihilizing and being amused by men that get abused by women, or assuming the violence is justifiable. Moreover abusive women are just as good at convincing their partner it wasn’t intended like that, or how sorry they are, or even just generally looking down on the man who lets himself be abused and not even bothering to apologize. Unlike abusive men, society even goes so far to tolerate abusive women to make jokes about having physically hurt a guy. For an abused man, even if he did defend himself, it might lead to a short term win, but he’d be going to jail, damage his career, and lose parental rights, which shows that law doesn’t even recognize the existence of male victims! Whether you are a male or a female domestic abuse victim, even if you feel you were not totally nice at the moment you got abused (you went too far in teasing, or you were shouting, or anything you could have done wrong), nothing (other than violence on your own part) justifies getting a smack, punch, knee, kick or other form of physical violent response from the one you are intimate with. The only time an incident of violence can be forgiven, is if something like this only occurred once, but thereafter never again.
If your answer to this diagnostic question was “no”, first go through the other questions before concluding whether you should stay. There can also be other things than abuse which can drain the happiness, satisfaction, safety, intimacy and comfort out of your relationship and life.
3 – Have you already taken any actual steps to a lifestyle without your partner? (Have you moved out, taken a job or other opportunity far away you would not have taken in better times, maybe even started with something which could develop in a serious relation with someone else? We’re not talking about dreaming about it, and looking up information on alternative lifestyles, or innocent displays of interest in others or other things, but about having taken an actual step in the direction of a lifestyle without your partner.)
If your answer is “yes” – leave. You’ve been practicing for it. Inside you’ve already decided. Now just do it!
If your answer is no, again first go through all other diagnostic questions.
4 – If there would be no negative consequences tied to you leaving, would you be relieved and finally feel like you could end your relationship?
If your answer comes out as a “yes” without a second of doubt – leave.
If you need to think first before answering yes, or your answer is no, go through the other diagnostic questions first. It may help you figure out whether a fear of an empty life leads you to doubt or say no, because this is not the same as a doubt or “no” you might have because deep inside you feel your relationship is too good to leave.
5 – Do you and your partner share a common interest, hobby or recurring activity which makes you feel connected and which you would like to continue to share in the future? In other words, in the imaginary instance you would just have gotten to know each other recently, is there something you now actually already do together which in that imaginary scenario would make you feel butterflies in your stomach, or which in that scenario would give you an intensely comfortable feeling? (That is, apart from your own kids, if you have any. Sure, having kids often motivates couples to stay together, but don’t necessarily make a relationship any happier if there is no other thing making you feel connected to one another. Also, being able to do things together in a practical sense does not count as a “yes”. Enjoying sex, only counts if it is not just about fulfilling your desire, but if after the deed it brings you closer together and makes you open up to each other.)
If your answer is “yes” – your relationship may be saved. But to be sure that effort will result in a happier life than if you would leave, first go through all other diagnostic questions.
If your answer is “no”, it is still possible to have a viable relationship in the case that none of the other diagnostic questions indicates you should leave.
6 – Do you perceive your partner as a kind, reasonably intelligent, not crazy/weird/temperamental at a level beyond your limit, reasonably attractive person with an at least acceptable body odor?
If your answer is a rational “no” – leave.
However, if your answer is a “no” clouded by the bitterness, anger, sadness or doubt of the moment, this is by itself not an indication to leave. In that case, you’ll have to see if any other diagnostic question indicates you should leave. If you answered “yes”, first go through other questions before deciding that you should stay and work on your relationship.
7 – If you want something which is really important or basic for you, does it usually cost you so much effort to get your partner to agree that you feel like giving up before trying? – This does NOT refer to fights that occur because you both value and stand up for your own needs which at times may contradict, and for which may need you to come to a compromise which only partially meets both of your needs. We’re talking about getting your needs and desires even partially met having become such a painstaking process, that it almost feels like your partner does not want you to have any of your needs fulfilled unless it is of direct benefit to him/her.
If your answer is “yes” – leave. (If your partner agrees to meet your needs, but never does it despite having the opportunity, that also counts as a “yes”)
If not, continue to work through this diagnostic list before drawing conclusions.
8 – Do you frequently feel angry towards yourself or your partner, or really sad or humiliated shortly before, during, or after you two see each other? This especially refers to a routine way in which your partner speaks to you, speaks about you, responds to you on a bad day, or requests things of you, which lead to these sort of feelings.
If “yes” – leave. A relationship should be a safe haven where these sort of feelings are not a routine thing. While occasional anger and sadness in a relationship are normal, habitual anger or sadness isn’t good for your mental health.
9 – Do you have the feeling that your attempts to talk or ask about issues that are important to you, are generally and systematically stopped in some or other way? (The way of stopping conversations can be very varied, from responding with rolling one’s eyes; sighing; changing topics either subtly or while agitated; being so annoying during the conversation that you end up regretting you started about it; threatening that (s)he no longer feels like being in this relationship if you keep wanting to talk about that topic; making a conclusion that you have a deeper problem which is inherent to yourself (being like your mother/father/crazy uncle our aunt, being unreasonable, being stupid, crazy, etc); plainly saying (s)he is not interested to hear about this; saying (s)he doesn’t want to talk about it; saying time to think is needed without actually ever coming to a point where you actually discuss it; listening blankly just so you stop; and many more.)
If “yes” – leave. Not only are your feelings suffocated, but eventually your relationship. You can wait till then and try to bear being unable to ever express your feelings, but you can just as well leave now, and waste no more time.
10 – Have you come to the point of thinking there is a bigger chance that what your partner is saying is a lie than that it is true? In other words: do you tend to think “it’s probably another lie again” when your partner is telling something? What matters is the effect the lying has on you, on your feeling, not what sort of thing was lied about nor the amount of lies. Sometimes, even if your partner has told several big lies or hidden more than one big thing from you, you may still feel you know him/her well enough to know what things he won’t lie about or won’t hide, and still can feel comfortable to trust his/her words in most interactions. Or it may also be that after one lie you question anything he/she says. It is the effect the lying has on you, not the lie itself. However, in most cases a permanent such feeling is based on a pattern of lies, not on a singular big lie. If the feeling that you question everything your partner says is recent, based on one big lie, first let it sink for the time you think is needed to restore your faith. If the feeling of distrust still doesn’t subside despite the passage of time, the answer to this question is truly “yes”.
If “yes” – leave. Regret, desperation and paranoia will consume you if you stay, unless you emotionally distance yourself to the point that it seems you have already ended the relationship.
Haven’t got your definite answer yet? Continue with part 2!