Is there anything quite as frustrating watching a friend in a relationship that’s clearly in free-fall? You know damn good and well that he or she needs to detach themselves from the emotional barnacle that is their significant other, but for whatever reason they’re absolutely determined to ride that sucker into the ground?
Now imagine how your friends feel when they’re watching you holding on to that toxic relationship for dear life. Whether you genuinely can’t see the toll that your failing coupledom is taking on your life or you simply can’t believe that you could find someone else – or that you deserve better – sometimes you find that you’re an emotional Slim Pickens, riding the A-bomb of their love straight into the Russian steppes that is your relationship and bringing nothing but devastation in your wake.
Hey, if that sounds like you, don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all been there. I’ve had one particularly toxic relationship in college that endured for two years between when I realized it needed to end and when I finally broke it off.1 But when I finally did…
The only way I can think to describe it is akin to the day I quit the worst job I ever had – doing tech-support for a notable cell-phone company. I was absolutely convinced that the job was draining the life out of me2 and after one particularly trying day that involved a bomb-threat, I finally stood up, threw down my headset, told my supervisor that he could kiss my ass and I was giving my notice and walked out the door. The feeling of freedom that overcame me, like I had just shrugged off a massive weight that I hadn’t realized I was carrying almost set me to tears.
Breaking up with my toxic girlfriend? Kinda like that… only better.
If I had known then what I know now, I would never have waited so long… especially since I would have been able to recognized the signs that it was long past time to break up.
Of course, sometimes it’s easy to mis-read the signs. Just as there’s nothing as soul-killing as being stuck in a relationship gone bad, you don’t want to make the mistake of ending a perfectly healthy relationship just because you mistook the usual ups and downs of every relationship. So let’s look at five signs that it’s time to break up… and when it’s not.