Ex-Files & Old Flames – Why Isn’t It Easy To Say Goodbye?
The most compelling reason people continue to hold on to an old relationship is the fact that they have a shared history. The person who might be an ex-partner has a sense not only of who you are, but who you were with them and during your time together. To then say goodbye to them can also feel like saying goodbye to who you were during your relationship!
Things that can keep you hopeful, even if you aren’t happy right now, is the possibility that something will change and the good times you once shared and the positive aspects of the relationship will resume.
Another thing that can keep the glue between you from completely giving way is if one of you wants to hold on more than the other. When this happens the one who isn’t ready to finally end it might persist with calls, emails and texts, which can increase the doubts the other might feel as well as any guilt feelings he or she might have about ending the relationship in the first place.
The partner who wants to continue to be together might also make assertions that they will change whatever behavior may have led to the unhappiness between you. They might even start to do it, which can make the other person stick around with the hope that the negative behaviors will disappear completely. As a result a couple can often seesaw because even small changes can increase optimism and give someone the stamina they need to be willing to try to give it another shot.
In the case of a betrayal, when the initial and intense anger diminishes, there can be a willingness to give the person a chance to rebuild your trust. Also, when there are children involved there is often a desire to keep the family together for their sake. That can be one of the strongest driving forces of all. Whatever the case, certainly if a lot of loving feelings remain it is hard to imagine life without them in it.
The question becomes, how do you know if you are wasting your time, holding on with the hope that the happiness will be rekindled or the bad behaviors will change when there is the chance that neither of those things is likely? How can you know how much time to give it before reaching the decision to finally call it quits? Are there any strategies to employ for ending a relationship?
If you are moving forward with the intent to give your relationship a try and see if things can work out, it’s good to be clear about what specific changes you are looking for and how long you are willing to wait to see if they actually take place. For example, if you are looking to see if you can trust your partner again, the only real way to do that is to give them enough time to show through their actions that what they say and do is worthy of your trust. However if months go by and you continue to be disappointed because the promised changes aren’t happening, or they have happened once but were never followed up on, that can be a good indicator that things aren’t really going to be different from what had been upsetting you all along, and if you want to be happier it is time to let go.
If married or in a long term relationship you or your partner could look for counseling, which can help you either get your relationship back on track or help you reach the difficult decision that it really is time to say goodbye to each other!
Relationship Advice from Dr Jane Greer
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