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Tiny Wisdom: When It’s Time to Move On

“Relationships are like glass.  Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together.”  ~Unknown

At the end of my first long-term relationship in college, when it was clear there was nothing left to salvage, I told a mutual friend that I “had to make it work.”

The idea of moving on seemed incomprehensible. I’d invested three years. We’d loved each other, laughed together; hurt each other, grown together. I was young and I made him my everything. How could I possibly let go of us when my own identity was inextricably wrapped in our pairing?

The friend told me I talked as if we were married with kids. I didn’t have to make it work. There was no good reason to stay other than my resistance to the pain of leaving.

How do you ever know when it’s time to walk away from anyone? It always feels so much safer to stay—in a friendship, a romance, and especially a relationship with a family member.

It’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea that love often means letting go. We can still have feelings for someone and recognize that the relationship is irreparable. Sometimes moving on is the best way to love ourselves.

It’s a choice to set two people free instead of continually reliving the same arguments, denying the same incompatibility, and opening the same wounds knowing full well they’ll only heal with time and space.

I’ve written many how-to posts about relationships. I’ve shared my thoughts of kindness, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness, and I’ve even offered suggestions for letting go.

But the truth is there are no simple step-by-step instructions for knowing when it’s time to move on. Surely there are signs. But the most important is that small knowing voice within that says something isn’t right, and it can’t be fixed.

It may never be easy to admit this. Endings always lead to uncertainty, and that can be terrifying.

But they also beget new beginnings, and new opportunities for relationships that don’t leave us feeling depleted and defeated.

How do we know when it’s time to move on? It’s when we find the courage to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that staying will do more harm than good.

We’re the only ones who can admit this to ourselves. And we’re the only ones who can change our lives for the better by finding the strength to walk away.

Photo by Paralog

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series (which includes one free eBook) & co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you get unstuck & change your life. She's now seeking stories to include in her next book, 365 Tiny Love Challenges by Tiny Buddha. Click here to share your story! For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter & Facebook.

Announcement: Want to share your story in the next Tiny Buddha book? Learn more here!
  • Connie

    I love myself too much now to stay in a unhealthy relationship of any sort. I knew when it was time to move on from either a family member, friend, etc, when I looke dback with clarity on how the relationship was evolving. I asked myself ‘AmI happy when in the company of this person?, Does the relationship seem like two parties are equally giving? Do I feel depleted, hurt, offended?, Does this person have my best interests at heart?

    You’ll know when it’s time to move on, sometimes it’s abrupt, sometimes the relationship just fades. When you realize you deserve better things and treated better life starts to make that transition for you. I have ended a few relationships in the past few months because I have evolved and realized I wasn’t happy and that was it, plain and simple. I did feel sadness in the berginning because there is always feelings and history involved but I realized not too long after that I’m doing what makes ME happy.

    Once you make the decision to remove the old, the universe opens up and blesses you with more and I have my arms open awaiting the adundance and blessings.

  • Linnaeab

    HI Lori, 
    “When it is time to move on” applies to every aspect of our life … work, school, relationships with family, friends, relationship to the past, the future, and even the relationship with ourself.When I knew it was time to move on, and acted on it, incredible opportunities arose, far beyond what I thought was possible. When I knew it was time to move on, but just kept at it, every day brought more difficult situations. Life was painful since I was out of integrity with myself. When it became too much, whatever it was ended abruptly, with residual side effects that were challenging often for years. It was so much more painful than the times when I recognized and acted. It took longer to get back on my feet.linnaea

  • http://bestisyettocome.wordpress.com/ Kim

    Excellent post and a good reminder for me today.

    xxoo

  • Chris Durrant

    Great post! It’s amazing to look back and think about how much I’ve “put up with” but we all reach our max when it’s time. It’s so much easier to be alone and happy than living for someone else or in an unhealthy relationship but it took me a really long time to learn that. I’m just glad that I did! Thanks for all of your inspiring messages.

  • Barbara

    Great post Lori.  Right before my husband was diagnosed with cancer I was planning to move out.  I had struggled with that decision for years until my son said one day, “Are you in it for the memories?” wow. That woke me up.

    Then something incredible happened.  My husband almost died and in many ways he did in fact die because he was a different man afterward.  He’s ten years clean now and we are happily together.

    God had a better plan and I’m grateful for the wake-up call we both experienced.

    I hope you’re well and happy Lori.
    b

  • Fire Red

    I needed this. Thank you. 

  • Theresa

    Thank you so much for this post today!  It spoke to me in a way that nothing else has as I contemplate my current situation in life. 

  • Tompat3650

    My courage needed this. Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

  • Rhonda

    Very timely article. Been looking online for “pick me ups”, reminders, and some wisdom. Letting go is never easy, but necessary for sanity and healing. Thank you.

  • Barb94044

    A very timely article. I recently asked a friend, “When do you know when it’s time to say ‘when’?” She said, “When your stomach aches” (which it had been for two days.) I asked my therapist “When do you give up on a relationship?” She said, “When nothing else has worked.” All good pieces of advice.

  • Mike :)

    This couldn’t have come at a better day to be honest! Thank you very much you’ve made me feel alot better about myself :)

  • Rosie Walker

    I am having similar troubles with a situation which involves this kind of relationship in my present. I am currently at university, but have many memories of school days with friends that are mostly happy, or at least were exciting. However, these people really hurt me when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, also part of our group of friends, but failed to support me during this time. They chose to give him emotional support whilst shunning me, in a situation which was not either-or. 
    I now have a new boyfriend who is very good to me, and am friends with my ex. I feel as if I am in a different place in my life, having come out of the other side of a depressive episode. But I can’t decide whether to let these people back into my life. They are fun and still invite me to events but I know this will stop if I keep choosing not to attend. But they really let me down, and I haven’t been sad about not seeing them for almost a year. I have one or two good friends I have taken with me from this group who still live close.Is this is a problem with this type of relationship from the article, where I no longer need them in my life, or me being too unforgiving? 

  • shastatodd

    there is also the very real possibility that ‘difficulties’ in relationships are actually growth opportunities, and if avoided usually show up in the next one since we tend to carry our baggage with us. the external tends to reflect the internal.

    i say if you are with someone committed to working on their ‘stuff’ and you are equally committed, why not do the work here and now rather than with the next partner?

  • http://optimalternative.com/ Mark B Hoover

    Knowing when to move on or to try just one more thing comes only with experience. We have to be willing to learn from our past and, if this is a first time thing, to gamble on the future. There are no set parameters for “giving up the ghost” or “hanging in there” in relationships. “Moving on” has taken on an entirely new facade in today’s disposable society. Myriads of excuses are utilized for abandoning otherwise workable relationships. Even marriages have the certainty of a coin toss.

    Relationships have had their way with me. I have learned a lot from them all. None were the same. No exit strategy was the same…on either side. I believe the best measure of determining whether to stay or go is to discern if your happiness is contingent upon the other’s presence or approval. If it is, it’s time to go.

  • http://www.vishnusvirtues.com/ Vishnu

    hey Lori – I found it very hard to move on after a relationship that was not working. It’s hard to be courageous and make the difficult choices that I should have made when I value loyalty so much and hoping the circumstances or person could change. Staying definitely was more harmful for us than good. I was definitely terrified of uncertainty and change but have since come to embrace it, and have realized that part of life is to continually embrace change!

  • Kat

    Perfect reminder this morning.

  • Sexykittykat8

    Thank you getting ready to leave a three abusive relationships.

  • Pgarris

    It is really sad when you have to let go of an adult daughter because the relationship has become do hurtful and broken! It breaks my heart but I must move on…..thanks for the post.It could not have come at a better time!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003648622943 Pleerbus Tarim

    This post hits home, as I am sure it has for a lot of people. Nearly two weeks ago I decided to tell my ex-girlfriend that we needed to cease all forms of communication. We had been broken up for over a year, but tried to remain friends throughout. All that led to was a constant cycle of happy to hurt feelings. As time went on I started to realize I really had nothing to say to my ex in conversations. It was as if we were both afraid to walk to away from one another, so we would try to force ourselves to remain friends because of fear of the unknown. After a recent episode that led to more hurt feelings I decided it was time to step away. It has not been easy at all, but I know I had to face my fear and move on.

  • Alana M

    What a wise son you have! Memories and shared experiences are undoubtedly an important part of a relationship but if its the only thing left and the present moment is no longer healthy, it’s probably time to move on. Thank you and your son for this! ;-)

  • Chantal

    A very honest post. I think the quote actually hit the nail on the head for me in more ways than one

    “Relationships are like glass.  Sometimes it’s better to leave
    them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together.” 
    ~Unknown 

    My husband left me after 23 years and to be honest it has completely devastated me. He wants me to move on, in fact so does my friends and family they don’t seem to understand that it feels utterly wrong for me to do so. I love him and want him to come home, it makes perfect sense to me. I will never understand how he could just walk away from our relationship without even trying to fix whatever went wrong, how can you do that after the history we shared the daughters we made. I’m at a complete loss to that behavior maybe I never meant anything to him and its all been a lie.

    I know for my own peace, my own sanity I have to accept what has happened but…..

    anyway great post thanks Lori

  • http://www.HowToAttractYourIdealPartner.com/ George Pirintzi

    Good for you! You deserve better. I wish you the best of luck and am confident that you can create a better future for yourself. 

  • http://www.HowToAttractYourIdealPartner.com/ George Pirintzi

    This is a wonderful post Lori with several golden nuggets of wisdom – especially  “Sometimes moving on is the best way to love ourselves”. If only more people were aware of this advice.

  • Js679

    I think we stay in dysfunctional relationships, and tolerate SO much because there’s this one slice of something that you need from this person, something that this person does, that works so well and is hard to find, and fills a big void. And you have chosen to tolerate all the dysfunctional stuff just to have that little valuable slice. It comes time to walk away, when the tolerating starts to really outweigh you’re little golden slice… Or you have realized that you really don’t need that slice, or others can fulfill it for you. Or, the slice has all but disappeared because the dysfunctional stuff has just grown to a point that you can’t access the little slice anymore. All your time and energy is around navigating the scary jungle of the STUFF. I think that is the tipping point. And I arrived here today, interestingly, the same day this post appeared. So thank you! The universe has wrapped all this up so nicely for me.

  • MsAmyKF

    I finally moved on from unhealthy eating.  Food has always been my friend and my comfort and my career has also been in the food industry.  I always felt like I deserved a “treat” to make myself happy or to feel better be it ice cream or candy or a huge plate of nachos.  I finally made the shift to seeing that I was not “treating” myself well with this food and the real treat is in eating healthy food and not feeling sick all the time.  Not quite the same as a relationship with a person, but in a way, similar.

  • Blackout

    I doubt that. I’m sure it wasn’t as easy for him as you think it was. Perhaps he just has to show as little emotion as he can to make it easier for you to move on? Everyone deals with emotions differently.

  • Blackout

    A know about 7000 people have said this, but this really couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am dealing with a relationship falling apart and leaving me living in our old home alone at the moment. Everything i see in this place makes it hard to cope with the knowledge that it is all actually over and all the memories I have of her will not be projected into the future. 

    As time has past however, i have come to realize something about myself that has become more obvious now as a pattern has developed from past breakups and that is: I place my self-validation in my relationships. 

    As Js679 said: ‘I think we stay in dysfunctional relationships, and tolerate SO much because there’s this one slice of something that you need from this person, something that this person does, that works so well and is hard to find, and fills a big void.’

    I have known for a long time that things were not really working out in our relationship but i refused to end it for the validation of my own existence she was giving me. She is a fantastic person, in pretty much every way. However, she was not right for me and as much as i can mentally be aware of that, it does not make me not want her back.

    The only way any of us can ever be truly happy in a relationship is when we give up on love. That is to say: “Once one has stopped searching for approval and/or validation of his/her existence in the eye of another, one can be opened up to a much larger world of love.’

    Then, when we truly rely on only ourselves for validation, love and respect, we see the participation and support from our significant other as really, really awesome rather than necessary for the hearts continual beating. Or something like that… ;o)

  • Js413

    Amazing post and timing Lori! I married a man who I had second thoughts about marrying because of fear of the unknown.  And like Js679 pointed out, I must have gotten something positive from the dysfunctional relationship because I stayed until we had been married 10 years and had 2 children together.  When the dsyfunction was enough to make me feel like I wanted out enough to either make a positive or negative choice to get there, I chose the healthier option.  We divorced a year ago and I have grown a lot.  Your blog has been a key point in that growth.  But the last few days I’ve been dealing with issues  co-parenting with him and I have been having a difficult time.  Your blog could not have been posted at a better time.  Like Connie said, I do care for myself more than I did when I was with him, and I am choosing to wait until I can honestly say that I love myself enough to not settle for bad behavior before I seek out a new partner.  Thank you for your blog, I always find it refreshing.

  • Justaguy

    We need to teach our young people, and a few older ones, that a relationship ending is not a failure. The failure is to persist in a relationship that  is making both parties miserable. The fact that two people don’t fit together says nothing bad about either partner, but the ego often steps in and we experience rejection; or we’ve been fed a lot of fairy tales like “soul mates” and “love lasts forever” or “you can make any relationship work”… (the list of dysfunctional beliefs is probably endless.)
    Recognizing this, while in the midst of it, requires a lot of gentle support from people who love and value us.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Chris. I’ve been there as well. I stayed in so many unhealthy relationships because leaving felt terrifying to me. It’s such an empowering feeling to walk away and know you’ll be just fine.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome Rhonda. I’m glad this helped!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m happy to help Mike!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I don’t think there’s a black and white answer to this kind of thing. You just need to follow your own instincts. If they’re still inviting you to things, perhaps this is their way of letting you know they care (even if they didn’t show it very well before). The question is: Do you want them in your life? Do you feel able to forgive them for the past and move on?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s a great point. I think there’s a difference between leaving because you know it’s the right choice, and leaving because you’re scared or stuck. It’s not always easy to tell the difference, but I think deep down, we usually know.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad you found this helpful Kat!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s wonderful you’ve decided to walk away! I second what George wrote. No one deserves to be mistreated. I’m sending good thoughts your way!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! I’m sure that can’t be an easy choice to make, but it sounds like you know it’s the right one.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome Chantal. I can understand why that would be devastating–especially when you have so much history together. I think it can be even tougher to get closure when you don’t fully understand what went wrong. I think it’s wonderful you’re working toward acceptance, even if it’s hard!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks George. It’s a tough lesson to learn, for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s great you were able to shift your perception in that way. I “ate my feelings” for years, and also thought of food as a treat, so I can absolutely relate to what you wrote. Congrats on making this positive change. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s very insightful and so well put. Congrats on arriving at this healthy place–and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s wonderful Connie–and very inspiring! I think you really hit the nail on the head with the questions you posed. If you feel bad more often than good, that’s a good sign something isn’t right.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    How wonderful you’ve both had this second chance Barbara. I am indeed doing well. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I really admire that you’re choosing to wait instead of rushing into another relationship. I know that’s not always easy to do, but what a loving choice for yourself. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome Theresa. I’m glad it helped!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Those are both great pieces of advice. I think it also helps to ask, “What advice would I give a friend if she were in my shoes?” It’s always so much easier to see things clearly when it’s not yourself!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I think that’s one of the most important keys to happiness in life–continually embracing change. It’s not easy, but life is far more peaceful when we stop resisting it, kicking and screaming!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m sorry to learn about your break up. It’s never easy to move on from a relationship, but I’m sure it doesn’t help matters that you’re living in the same home.

    I appreciate that your shared your insights here, and I love what you wrote about opening up to a much larger love. I think that’s true in all relationships, including friendships. I’ve spent a lot of my life seeking approval and validation, and sometimes I still find myself looking for this in my friendships. I try to stop and ask myself, “How can I give myself the validation I’m seeking from them?” Suddenly I become a much better friend because I can actually be there for them (instead of always wanting something from them).

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Kim. I’m glad this came at a good time for you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I think you bring up a great point about being out of integrity with yourself. I know that feeling well–the sense that I’m out of alignment with who I really am, and I’m ignoring my instincts out of fear. Like you, I’ve found that amazing opportunities generally follow acts of strength and courage. Perhaps that’s the key to moving on when you’re scared: remembering how good it will feel, on multiple levels, to act anyways!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Congrats on taking this step! It’s strange how sometimes it can feel safe to stay in a familiar but hurtful situation. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing for you. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did this in the long run, even if it’s tough right now.

  • Yecenniajorge

    My friend shared this post with me because I am experiencing optional conflict regarding my current relationship.

    My husband and I have been together for 4 years but married only a year and half. In 2010 he was diagnosed with cancer; shortly after his 2nd chemo, he almost died in our home due server complications of the chemo. I truly believed that I loved him more during this time and I couldn’t walk away from him at this point. It was on 9/11 that he asked me to marry him while he was in the hospital. I was so happy because I wanted to be with him and felt that this was the only way to validate what I was doing in order to help him recover from all this. Above all I truly feel in love with him all over again.

    It was 2 days after his 5th chemo that we got married; he was at his lowest weight and he was very fragile. I kept us together. Took care of him and made sure that I was available to him when he needed me. I quit my job so that I was able to be by his side. My children suffered the absences of their mother because my entire day was dedicated to him. In January 2011 he had surgery to reconnect his small intestine and was in full remission. To our surprise that only lasted 5 months of happiness. It was during this time we were able to consummate our relationship; he was so I’ll up until that point that it wasn’t a priority in my life.

    A tumor had developed and it was alarming to his doctor that my husband was being placed in the elite stem cell transplant list at the local University in our city. We were going through this all over again. I missed work to be at this appointments, I would conference in to hear what the doctors would say. Again, I was the advocate for my husband. His only daughter had abandoned him at his sickest time and his mother was busy caring for my children.

    The transplant was a success and it would be just a matter of time that he would be home. The transformation that as a man he underwent was incredible. I married one man and he changed into two different beings in front of me.

    After all of this, we weren’t the same two people. I moved forward with school and tried to find my identity again. I felt that I had lost who I was because a need arose that required me to step up to the plate and take charge for him at his weakest moment. However, I quickly saw that as I tried to come into my own and focus in other aspects of life, I was angry because I felt as though nothing I did at this point was good enough for him. I hated coming home because I didn’t want to fight or ear that he was having a bad day. This happened a lot. The yelling, me saying that I’m done with this relationship. But divorce was never an option because of what we had been through.

    Well 2 weeks ago he asked me for a divorce and I have been trying to fix something that is obviously broken. My children (who are from previous marriage) voice their opinions and would seem happier as well if I were not in this relationship.

    So why am I so conflicted? Can’t this marriage be saved and if can why would I want it to be? I do love him dearly, but why does someone ask you to change, when you’ve accepted them with their faults and all their baggage that he can’t do the same in return?

    This is the very reason that I say I’m emotionally conflicted. Any suggestions or advise that would help me see that, walking away would be the healthiest for our family.

  • Yecenniajorge

    *emotional conflict not optional conflict.

  • Teresamaria

    How i wish i knew! I am also asking myself that question.I believe  i am in a dysfunctional relationship,yet something inside me is making me hold on! And i don’t know what! I think there is an element of hope that all will be well and i do have a child.We have done a lot of damage,both of us in the past,to each other,yet i am still here,he drinks too much,always has,but does not admit it nor does he change,yet i still feel that he is the only person that knows me.So,i am still here with a hope that God will make that decision for me.Am i crazy?Just don’t like to feel that one day i have to start all over again.Maybe princes in shinig armour don’t exist anyway.

  • Lv2terp

    FANTASTIC Tiny Wisdom!!!! Beautifully and perfectly stated…amazing wisdom and writing skills that you possess Lori…thank you for enriching my life every day!!!

  • DEA

    You have a very powerful story. I think you answered your own question when you said that he wants you to change. You shouldn’t have to change. Being in a relationship is about accepting each other as you are. It will be painful to let go…but it sounds likes you already know the answer and need to get confirmation. 

  • DEA

    My relationship broke up a few weeks ago and my ex wants to remain friends. I think he doesn’t want to let go of me, even though he is the one who broke it off. (This is a longer more complicated story about his issues.) I told him I cannot be his friend now, and I didn’t know when or if I would be able to. I need my space. Talking to him would only make my healing process longer.

  • DEA

    It was very hard for me to understand that letting go was the best option. I was in a relationship for over four years…and he just ended it a few weeks ago. The reasons had to do with his own issues, mainly that he couldn’t be the man I wanted or deserved. The hard part is that he was that man, but he got scared and started pulling away. I would see glimpses of him throughout our relationship and was holding on to that person. But he chose to be someone else. I realized it’s all about choice. He chose not to work on himself, he chose not to give his whole self to the relationship, he chose not to meet me halfway, he chose to live a life of unhappiness. I held on for as long as I could and had the “done” moment when I realized that I didn’t deserve to live in anxiety and fear over a romantic relationship. The love we have for one another is unbelievable, and even though I get scared that I won’t find it again, I do truly believe that I will find someone who can meet me in a relationship the way I want. It’s not worth it to live unhappily in something that isn’t working. Sometimes it takes a moment of clarity to fully understand that. 

  • TJ

     @1756cfece81fe825b327eb33ad3a16c6:disqus it’s makes me sad to hear that someone else is going through exactly what I am right now and feeling all the pain that comes with it, but it’s helpful to hear your faith and belief that there is something better to come.  thank you for articulating what I couldn’t and sharing your experience.  as everyone else has said, I needed this post at this time — and as hard as it is to let go, this post and everyone’s comments help push me a little more in that direction. 

    thanks @lori_deschene:disqus for your beautiful words, yet again. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thank you for the kind words about my writing!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I don’t think you’re crazy Teresa. I think you want to believe things can be different–and I’m sure it’s all much harder since you have a child together. 

    There’s an Oprah quote that really resonated with: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” At first, this didn’t sit with me well because I want to give people the benefit of the doubt and believe in their power to change. But people have to want to change. And if they repeatedly show through their actions that they don’t want to, expecting that they will only lead to pain.

    I personally don’t think princes in shining armor exist because we’re all human, and we all make mistakes sometimes. But I think healthy, loving relationships are possible. It’s just that we can never know for certain when we leave a dysfunctional one that a better one is down the road. We just have to know we’re worth the risk of being alone–even if just for a while–if it allows us to open up to something better.

    That being said, I know it’s hard! I’ve struggled with this many times in my life. That’s what good friends are for–to help us do the hard things when we struggle to find the strength!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m going to second what DEA wrote–that you shouldn’t need to change, and any partner of yours should champion your personal growth (especially when you’ve been such a strong source of support for him). 

    Ending a relationship is never easy, but I’m sure the emotions are compounded by everything you’ve been through together. In many ways, it’s probably been traumatic–both seeing him go through what he did, and being there for him while you put your own needs on the back burner. You probably have mixed emotions not only because of the feelings you had for him, but also because of the deep attachment and bond that comes from being a caregiver in the way you were. It may also sting a little that he is the one who asked for a divorce. Instinctively, none of us want to feel rejected (even if we’re in relationships that are unhealthy and unsatisfying).

    Perhaps he’s doing you a favor. You scarified a lot for him, and it speaks to your beautiful character that you provided that type of love and care. But now it’s time for you to prioritize you again. You deserve to be with someone who understands and respects that, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Jane

    The end of a relationship is like a death. There is a grieving process that you need to allow yourself to go through. Very often, people expect you to move on quicker than you’re ready to. These same people would never expect someone who lost a loved one through death to just move on and get it over with.

    I still love my ex-husband, but as a friend now. I’m glad that I found the courage to move on, but it was hard. It was truly a grieving process I went through and I will always extend myself to someone who is grieving from the loss of a relationship, no matter what that loss looks like.

  • Teresamaria

    What could you possibly change to make you a better person?You are fantastic and caring,maybe you have fulfilled your duty as a human being…you were selfless!Maybe,if you let go of your past with your husband you might find somebody that will do what you deserve,love for yourself.Perhaps you were so busy looking after his needs that you have forgotten yours.You need to find them,i think the universe wants you to be happy now, even if the answer came from his lips.
    Let go and and let life.You deserve the very best.

  • jeff_tacorda

    Something that helped me out through previous break ups is looking at relationships as a sort of Venn diagram.  It might be crude but please bear with me.  You have two whole people, that when are together share a common interest (the space created by the overlapping circles representing the relationship.)  I’m not very good at explaining things but the gist of what I’m trying to say is that when you separate from the other you can’t forget that you are still a whole person with your own values, morals, desires etc… Just because you are no longer with that person doesn’t have to mean that you don’t have a sense of identity.  I think that a lot of people going through breakups, especially in ones where it lasted a very long time where you’ve shared pretty much everything, get the feeling that they are no longer a whole person without their significant other.  It’s really not that way, and I know its difficult to remember who you were before the relationship, but you are still there.  

    Anyway, sorry if I couldn’t explain myself any better.  I’m thankful for stumbling onto this site.  No matter how often I tell myself to be positive, it’s always helpful to read of other’s experiences.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I know exactly what you described Jeff! When I got out of the relationship I referred to in this post, I felt like I’d lost a limb. He was just that much a part of my identity. And for a long time, I hoped he’d come back.

    I’m in my second long-term relationship now, and even though we’re best friends, I try to keep myself complete on my own. You just never know what the future holds, and as secure as I feel in this relationship, I know I am far more than half of our whole.

  • http://www.midlifemonalisa.com/ Brenda Clevenger

    Lori, I love these post and your continued fresh perspective. And I would love to repost this under my Starting Over section at Midlife Mona Lisa with your permission. Let me know. I’d mention your book in my newsletter for the privilege.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Brenda,

    Thanks so much–and thanks also for asking! That would be just fine with me. I’d appreciate it if you would include my byline and the first two sentences of my bio (ending with my book link) along with a note that reads, “This post was republished with permission from Tiny Buddha.”

    Happy Friday =)

    Lori

  • jay

    this piece is coming at a time when my girlfriend and i are having so many issues. i am partly to blame but it was always me that wanted to stay together. im ready to walk away now after 10 months. but im afraid and worried for her. its that crippling fear not knowing if she will be ok. thinking i can sacrifice my happiness for hers. i feel so guilty walking away. i feel so low. thinking only for myself. we have no kids we dont live together. yet each month that goes by the pill gets tougher and tougher to swallow. sometimes i get angry and saddened of what my dreams could have been. but i feel devastated because our relationship lost trust so many months ago. i forgave her but she continued to abuse the trust. now my cup is full and im emotionally mentally physically done with her and us. but not ahead is fighting and grasping to stay for us to remain. but i would be lying to her if i stayed and i would become even more resentful knowing i stayed to please her. but im afraid. will she be ok? will she be alright? and am i being to greedy for wanting to be happy for myself? is it true that you vantage make someone happy if youre not happy yourself. i am walking away and this article makes perfect sense and fits my life right now. i just hope she will be ok…

  • http://art-fizz.com/ Fizsofi

    My relation has been over for 9 months and in an way, I am still in the relation. With all my thoughts, dreams, existence, I live for us. The days that I am sad, it’s only beacause I miss him, miss what he represents in my life, LOVE.

    Today, well, actually, JUST NOW, we closed. I have the feeling that fear won over love. Even if I know that things were not right. That the sadness which I feel and felt is not right. It cannot be right. That I meant for something better, for something more. Still, it seems an impossible thought to be without…. Forever.

    And yes, I know that love is eternal. I know and feel it, with all my heart.
    At the same time, I still resist accepting what it.

    Thank you for the post, just came at the right time.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I know it’s not easy to accept when something is over. Sometimes it takes a while to be ready to fully move on. I hope you’re leaning on friends and family who love you. They will help you get through!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003648622943 Pleerbus Tarim

    I’m in a similar situation,except it has been going on for over a year. I told my ex that I needed space, she gave it to me for three weeks, then decided she missed me too much and contacted me. We had a talk, which led to an argument, which led to the same hurt feelings. That’s when you know you have to walk away. Like your ex, my ex broke things off with me. I really don’t get why she just won’t let me go, despite letting me go… I hope your doing better and that your situation doesn’t drag on like mine. Just have to be strong and know that letting go is the best thing.

  • Felicia

    Sometimes it is not just a relationship that we have to come to a cross road. Even come to our career, we have to ask ourselves whether it is worth to keep it. Better to end it fast rather than end up wounded and hurt

  • Arabella

    I left my husband because I believe I didn’t love him, amongst other things. Now 1.5 year later I think I want him back! I have no idea if my feelings are genuine or not. Thank goodness he’s not in the country because then I think I’d rush into it and that would be a mistake.

  • satia davis

    How do you walk away from a three year long relationship? After you gave your all but consistently been hurt by all the cheating and infidelity shouldn’t it be easy to leave?

  • victory

    Hello i am Victory ,I am out here to spreed this good news to the entire world on how i got my ex love back.I was going crazy when my love left me for another girl last month,But when i meet a friend that introduce me to prophet mukula the great messenger to the oracle that he serve,I narrated my problem to Prophet mukula about how my ex love left me and also how i needed to get a job in a very big company.He only said to me that i have come to the right place were i will be getting my heart desire without any side effect.He told me what i need to do,After it was been done,In the next 2 days,My love called me on the phone and was saying sorry for living me before now and also in the next one week after my love called me to be pleading for forgiveness,I was called for interview in my desired company were i needed to work as the managing director..I am so happy and overwhelmed that i have to tell this to the entire world to contact prophet mukula at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct on: prophetmukula@hotmail.com

  • lesliek

    Hi Lori,

    Thank you so much for this. I am going through a very hard time. I loved this person more than any thing and we were so happy together. but we had to part ways owing to cultural differences..we were from different religious backgrounds. he was more realistic back then and decided it was unfair but it was what we needed. it totally broke me as we decided ‘to remain friends’. well however, he never let go neither did i. we broke up in 2008. we were 21. we kept in touch in for years after that..over emails. sweet words which would make me nostalgic as well as fill me with despair. I finally decided to cut contact and move on with my life..thinking that I was just someone he would remember occasionally each year. well I met a wonderful person after that and all was well.but a few months after, my past love visited and it was a casual meeting, just caught up and had general conversation.later on I hear that he wants to make things work but it has left me so dazed and stirred up so many emotions of grief and lost love..

    .and yet i know it was the time of my life when I was the happiest. nothing ever seems to compare. but I also know that it will be different going back…I know that I will always be fearful of his exit and afraid of getting hurt

    ..and yet imagining not having some form of contact with him…is tough again. how could I love him so much.

  • sunshine13

    I am 40 years old female. When I was younger I was chubby, glasses and well I wasn’t popular. 5 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so after a mastectomy and reconstruction I lost weight and took care of myself, I became attractive but my old beliefs didn’t change and feel insecure. I was in a “relationship” with a guy that I was so attracted and I couldn’t believe that he liked me too. However, after months the relationship didn’t progress and I realized he was just having fun. He didn’t commit. I was played along thinking that he will change. After months I felt used and stupid because I was allowing that. I want a healthy relationship. I stopped seeing him and it has been hard because in some way he made feel attractive. After reading this article I know I have to work on myself and it hurts to be away from him but I also know is the best so i can meet somebody else once I am ready and healed.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been through, but inspired by your positive perspective. I think a lot of us aren’t even aware of our limiting beliefs–or brave enough to wait for something that’s more aligned with what we want. It sounds like your well on your way to the kind of love you deserve!

  • Allie

    I’ve been in a relationship for almost 8 years, recently engaged but now have postponed the engagement BC he was concerned about how we communicated/argue with each other. I have moved out and it’s been 3 months and we are still together, working on things. I agree with him that there were problems but in this time away I have had the opportunity to look at our relationship-the good, the bad, those annoyances-and the good still outweighs the bad in my eyes. I am a prideful person and am afraid of getting hurt and I question letting go BC of this. I have faith in us but am constantly conflicted with my fear and asking myself if I should let go, but I do this all the time when I get scared I try to walk away. So, I need guidance…am I really ready to let go, or am I trying to use this as an excuse to protect myself?

  • Karina

    What if one party wants to work on his/her issues, while the other can’t put up with it anymore? In my case, I was the one with issues – mainly jealousy and trust issues, because I was too emotional. I was working on fixing it, but my progress was slow, and there were times when I would “relapse.” Although I had started getting therapy, one stupid “relapse” – getting irrationally jealous over a very small issue – made my ex decide that he had enough, and he dumped me immediately. I feel really stupid for having relapsed like that, because prior to that, my ex was happy with me and hopeful that I’d work on my issues. Now that we’ve broken up, I’m still getting therapy for myself and also in the hopes that he’ll take me back in and will still want to work things out with me…

  • Ivette1979

    My situation is my husband left me back in June because he “was no longer in love with me” I was devastated and crushed. I knew communicating with him other than about our kids would extend my healing process so I told him not to contact me unless for the kids. Then he wanted to get back with me and make our marriage work. I still loved him but I found shortly after the reconciliation that he slept with someone during our separation. Of purse that made things worse but now he acts like since he’s here I shouldn’t think her leave or cheat on me. I’ve decided I can’t live like that. I love him but I have to love myself more to know its a toxic relationship.

  • CosmicChaos

    Wow, did I really need to read this. I am currently at the cross roads where I need to chose if I should stay or go. It’s very difficult for me because my boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years. I’ve been his first girlfriend, his first everything. We’ve both invested so much of ourselves into this relationship. I love him dearly, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not IN love with him. I mean I can picture living comfortably with him in our future, but am does that mean I am simply settling?? I don’t know how to fall in love with him. I don’t want to feel this way. I fear that no one will love me as much as he does. I fear that I am making a big mistake if I leave him. Most of all it takes courage to leave, and I’ve yet to find it. I really don’t know what to do. We’ve been okay in the relationship, but this has simply been a question I’ve been carrying around with me for a long time.

  • Steph

    this sounds as though it was my ex writing this post. things became so damaged, i tried to fix it, but little did i know, he was already done with me. for months.

  • OPM

    How could you tell he was done with you?
    OPM

  • anonymous

    Thanks to drolorispiritualtemple@gmail.com for At last my happiness has been restored by a Man named Dr olori ,, my name’s are miss KIRSTEN i want every one on this site or forum to join me thank this DR olori for what he just did for me and my kids . my story goes like this i was married to my husband for 5 years we were living happily together for this years and not until he traveled to Italy for a business trip where he met this prostitute who be witched he to hate me and the kids and love her only so when my husband came back from the trip he said he does not want to see me and my kids again so he drove us out of the house and he was now going to Italy for to see that other woman. so i and my kids were now so frustrated and i was just staying with my mum and i was not be treating good because my mama got married to another man when my after my daddy death so the man she got married to was not treating i and my kids well so i was so confuse and i was searching for a way to get my husband back to me and my kids so one day as i was browsing on my computer i saw a testimony about this MAN DR olori of drolorispiritualtemple@gmail.com shared on the internet by a lady and it impress me too so i also think of give it a try at first a was scared by when i think of what me and my kids are passing through so i contact him and he told me to stay calm for just two days that my husband shall be restored to me and to my best surprise i received a call from my husband on the second day asking after the kids and i called Dr olori and he said your problems are solved my child so this was how i get my family back after a long stress of brake up by an evil lady so with all this help from DR olori of drolorispiritualtemple@gmail.com i want you all on this forum to join me to say a huge thanks to olori and i will also advice for any one in such or similar problems or any kind of problems should also contact him for help
    Good bye

  • denise77

    I agree. We need to recognize and admit there is dysfunction. We need to give ourselves time to grieve if it hurts. Own the psin instead of repressing it. Move on when we are ready to try again. It may seem like the end of the world, but it is not.

  • M

    Lori, I appreciate you writing exactly what I had a hard time putting into words. I was with my girlfriend for over 2 years and while everything started off great, I ended up moving in with her, and we did well together at first, but over time, the love just went sour. There’s no romance.. and I’ve tried to rekindle it and I’m met with only cold responses. She then argues with me that I don’t try. I’ve been thinking about leaving for a few months now.. fantasizing about it almost. I know my life is going to be hard without her because I’m so used to having her, but I think sometimes, you just have to be true to yourself, know what’s in your heart, and move on.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi M,

    I really admire that you’re being honest with yourself and brave about this. I know it’s easier to keep things as they are–but like you wrote, sometimes what’s best is to listen to your gut and move on. I hope this is the start of a wonderful new path for you. =)

    Lori

  • jeet

    I really don’t know what to do. We’ve been okay in the connection, but this has basically been a query I’ve been holding around with me for a lengthy period.google

  • Ptzoo@sbcglobal.net

    Help. I’ve been married 25 yes and we have a 21 yr old and a 17 yr old. I don’t want to be married anymore. I’m sad a lot when home. When I visit my mom and sisters I’m happy again. We moved away 8 yes ago and my husband is happier here. Help.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I can only imagine the pain this has caused you. Have you talked to your husband about what you’ve been feeling?

    Sending good thoughts your way,
    Lori

  • Ptzoo@sbcglobal.net

    Its me. I have and he is a great man but I’m not sure I love him or just use to him. I don’t want to hurt my kids either. I cried in my car today and knew it was not OK. I have an appt Friday with my Dr. I wish I could be with my mom and sisters which live in Ca.. But then I’ll miss my daughter. Thank you for replying it was nice.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I hope the appointment helps. You are in my thoughts.