A marriage therapist says there are 4 good reasons to leave a relationship — and a really bad one

Ben Affleck Jennifer Garner divorce
Ben Affleck Jennifer Garner divorce

(It's a tough decision.Danny Moloshok/Reuters) 

Breaking up is the worst — not even because it makes you sad and regretful and all that, but because deciding to part ways takes so much mental and emotional energy.

So here's a framework that can help make the decision a little easier. It's based on advice from Linda Carroll, a marriage therapist (and Courtney Love's mom).

Carroll appeared on an episode of the Art of Charm podcast to talk all things love and relationships and shared four reasons to leave a relationship immediately:

1. Your partner is abusive.

It doesn't matter if the abuse is physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, or financial, Carrol said. You need to leave.

Carrol added that even couples with major issues can figure out how to make the relationship work — but in the meantime, you should "get away and move away and protect yourself."

2. Your partner has a character disorder that manifests in lying and jealousy.

Carrol specified that this is only a red flag if "it's constant — it's not just a bad moment."

Again, she said that if your partner is really committed to overcoming these issues, it's possible to make the relationship work. But in the meantime, you should get some space.

3. You've done all you can do and it's just not working.

"It doesn't mean that somebody's bad," Carrol said. "Maybe you got together because you were needy or you didn't choose well." Or maybe, she added, what worked for you at age 22 doesn't work for you at age 40.

The point is that relationships take effort — but there's only so much effort you can put in. At a certain point, it might be time to cut your losses.

4. You just know, 'deep in your gut.'

When you "just know" you need to call it quits, Carrol said, it's not a "panicky" feeling.

It's not that intense feeling of "I can't stand this person!" that you get when they're chewing too loudly. It's also not that dramatic feeling of "I'd rather be single!" that arises when they tell the same story for the billionth time.

"You know, for your own reasons, that you really are done," Carrol said. "It probably less to do with the other person than with you."

couple fighting annoyed complain
couple fighting annoyed complain


Carrol also shared one very bad reason to leave a relationship: Your partner is an ordinary person.

If you don't feel madly in love every day, or if the things that made you fall in love are now annoying you, that's not a definite sign that you should break up.

In fact, other relationship experts seem to agree that sometimes being miserable, bored, frustrated, and/or angry is part of the deal when you get married. (The same logic probably applies to long-term relationships, too.)

As one marriage educator put it, "There will be times when one or both [people in a relationship] want out and can barely stand the sight of each other."

Bottom line — and we know this is annoying — no one can make the breakup decision for you.


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