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  • Writer's pictureSarah Santiago

Navigating Relationship Crossroads: Finding Clarity in Contemplating a Breakup

Relationships can be complex, and sometimes we find ourselves at a crossroads where we question whether to continue or end the partnership. If you're in a relationship that doesn't bring you happiness, despite it not being inherently "bad", deciding whether to continue the relationship or end it can feel extremely difficult. As a mental health professional, I understand the significance of making decisions that align with your well-being and personal growth. In this blog post we will explore ways to help you navigate the contemplation of a breakup, fostering clarity, and supporting your journey toward happiness and fulfillment.

1. Assess Your Needs and Happiness:

Take time to reflect on your needs, desires, and overall happiness within the relationship. Consider what aspects of the relationship bring you joy and fulfillment, and which areas may be lacking. Ask yourself important questions: does the relationship align with your long-term goals and values? Are you able to communicate openly and honestly with your partner? Are your needs being met? Do you feel safe enough to be your true authentic self with your partner? Assessing your needs and overall happiness can help shed light on whether the relationship is serving you in a positive and meaningful way.

2. Communicate Openly and Honestly:

Effective communication is crucial in relationships. Contemplating a breakup may mean that you think through things on your own before sharing them with your partner, which is understandable. We have to ask ourselves if there is room for growth within the relationship that could result in the fulfilling relationship we desire, or do feel that this relationship cannot grow into what we need? Sometimes, having an open and honest conversation with your partner about your thoughts and feelings can give the opportunity for growth and positive change within the relationship. Express your concerns, desires, and doubts in a compassionate and non-confrontational manner. Give your partner the opportunity to share their perspective as well. Honest communication can provide valuable insights and pave the way for a deeper understanding of each other's needs. Communication may also help you both come to the mutual decision to end things.

3. Seek Clarity Through Self-Reflection:

Engage in self-reflection to gain a clearer understanding of your own emotions and motivations. Explore your values, goals, and aspirations both within and outside of the relationship. Consider whether the current dynamics align with your personal growth and overall well-being. Self-reflection can provide valuable insights into what you truly desire in a relationship and whether the existing partnership supports your individual journey. A reflection question that I often encourage my clients to ask themselves is: "how would I feel if my partner broke up with me?"- reflecting on your answer to this question may provide you with the clarity you're looking for.

4. Evaluate Patterns and Dynamics:

Examine patterns and dynamics within the relationship. Are there recurring issues or challenges that have not been effectively addressed? Evaluate whether these patterns are detrimental to your well-being and if efforts for positive change have been made. Understanding the dynamics can help you assess the potential for growth and improvement within the relationship.

5. Seek Support from Trusted Individuals:

Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a mental health professional to gain support and perspective. Talking with others who care about your well-being can provide an outside viewpoint and help you navigate your thoughts and emotions. A mental health professional can offer guidance and tools to explore your feelings and navigate the decision-making process with clarity and self-compassion.

6. Consider the Pros and Cons:

Compile a list of the pros and cons of staying in the relationship versus ending it. Consider factors such as compatibility, communication, shared values, and overall happiness. This exercise can assist you in objectively evaluating the impact of the relationship on your well-being and highlight areas that may require attention or change.

7. Trust Your Intuition:

Tap into your intuition and listen to your inner voice. While it's essential to consider logical factors and external opinions, ultimately, you are the best judge of what brings you happiness and fulfillment. Trust your instincts and honor your feelings. Pay attention to the signs and cues your body and mind are giving you as you navigate the decision-making process. Know that you are deserving of having your needs met just as much as your partner is.

8. Prioritize Self-Care:

Throughout the contemplation process, prioritize self-care to nurture your emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, reduce stress, and promote self-reflection. Practice self-compassion and kindness toward yourself as you navigate this challenging decision. Taking care of your well-being ensures that you make choices that align with your authentic self. Contemplating a breakup can feel exhausting at times and it can be helpful to give yourself permission to take a break from thinking about it and focus on self-care.

9. Remember: You Are Responsible For Your Own Happiness:

One of the most common reasons my clients are worried about a breakup is that they are worried about hurting their partner's feelings. I often remind my clients that as humans, each of us is responsible for our own emotions and happiness. We can care about other people and their emotions, but we are not responsible for them. Staying in a relationship that is not making you happy just to keep your partner happy is not healthy for either of you. Both of you are deserving of a partner that is truly fulfilled within the relationship.

Making the decision to breakup or not can feel hard, especially if nothing "bad" has happened. Hopefully these steps will help you explore your emotions and help you identify the solution that is best for you. You are worthy of a happy, healthy, and fulling relationship in which you can be your most authentic self.

Note: This blog post is not intended to replace professional advice. If you are experiencing severe anxiety or mental health issues, it is recommended to consult with a licensed mental health professional. If you are in a crisis, please seek help immediately.

If you are not safe in your relationship there are safe resources that can help you:

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: Call: 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673) Chat: Español:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call: 800-799-7233 Text*: START to 88788 TTY: 800-787-3224 Chat:

About the author: Sarah Santiago is a licensed professional counselor in Michigan. She provides therapy to Michigan college students and emerging adults (ages 18-29) virtually. Her specialties include helping clients work through anxiety, eating disorders, and improving self-confidence.

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