When to let go in a relationship, or take some distance?
When is it time to step back from a relationship and take some distance? Or even say goodbye? How to define whether or not you should continue or let go?
Do you need to solve relationship problems or accept that both of you want something else?
For me, it is always hard to let go. I enter a relationship to make it work, not to give up. But sometimes it is best to stop and move on.
My current relationship is a cross-cultural relationship. And that makes it even harder to draw conclusions on when to fight or flight.
Here are some of my thoughts on when to fight or when to let go.
What is the goal or purpose of a relationship?
The goal in every relationship is that both parties benefit. Only then it is a balanced relationship. If 1 person gets all the benefits and the other doesn’t, your relationship is not a healthy one. I know that the balance can be off the scale every now and then, because of personal circumstances, but overall there should be a mutual benefit from a relationship.
Now in a cross-cultural relationship and in relationships with an economical difference that is a tricky one. For there will always be someone that benefits more. Let me explain why?
The person leaving his/her home country is the one to sacrifice, the person staying in his home country benefits more, there is not much cultural adjustment needed. The person with more financial means is the person that sometimes gets the feeling of being used. The person with less financial situation might feel he or she is abusing the relationship or might feel guilty under the lack of finances or using the opportunity offered to profit.
Keep that in mind when you struggle in your cross-cultural relationship and balance seems lost.
Getting the best out of a relationship means that the relationship gives you energy, makes you happy and helps you become a better person
Long story short: you feel better being in a relationship than without one.
That goes for any type of relationship: with a partner, with family, friends or colleagues.
There are three good clues that tell you when it is better to take some space or distance:
Your relation related problems are unsolvable
The first clue is when you cannot solve your problems concerning the relationship. How hard you try, somehow the two of you do not seem to get over certain issues and it gives a lot of negative energy. If you find yourself on a regular base disappointed, angry, tired or negative in your relationship than it is time to step back and think things through. There are better things to do in your life than feeling miserable, right?
Not wanting or being able to say goodbye yet
The second clue is when you think about breaking up a lot, but cannot act on it. You do appreciate the relationship too much to do so. You know that you will miss the positive sides of the relationship. And maybe you simply cannot say goodbye because the other person is a family or a colleague. In that case, creating some space between the two of you is the best option. Set your boundaries and keep them.
The decision is not yours to make
The third reason to step away from a person is when the other person tells you to. You cannot force someone to have a relationship with you. If they are smart, they see how wonderful, giving and loving you are and choose your company. But if they are not then the only thing you can do is to accept.
Don’t give up too easily
Whatever your relationship is, cross-cultural, a love relationship or otherwise, do not back out too hastily. But do realize that a relationship that on a regular base causes tension and takes a lot of energy, has little chance of success.
Some relationships are simply not meant to be
Relationships that are meant to be are supposed to be easy going. You do need perseverance and a lot of adjustment and goodwill to make it a success, but it should give you so much more in return.
When you give up at the first sign of struggle, you will not have many successful relationships. And you may notice that over time the same problems occur in every new relationship. So a little perseverance is good.
And maybe you think: but I love him/her so much…..well, sometimes you have to face the fact that love does not conquer all.
The reason for many relationship problems
Communication is often the cause of many problems, bottling things up for a while and not being able to find the right words to communicate your feelings to the other person can bring a lot of unhappiness. That is why cross-cultural relationships suffer more conflicts. The language barrier can be a huge deal-breaker when it comes to clear communication, especially when both partners do not speak their native language. Nothing more difficult than expressing your emotions in a foreign language, no matter how well you speak that language.
The other person is not a mind reader, especially in love relationships women tend to expect the guy to understand without explanation, and even some man do so. Or how about filling in for the other person: she says…than she means……
You always have to check whether or not you understand the other person clearly. Never assume you do.
Effective communication has a few basic rules:
stand up for yourself
know what is important to you and share that
But sometimes there is no solution. Simply because two partners have different ideas about how a relationship should be. That is a difference that is not solvable. If you want to go left and the other person wants to go right and there is no way to connect halfway or in the middle, it is time to let go.
Stop the fighting
If you are constantly fighting about the way a relationship should be, you simply have to stop. There is no use. You do not need to explain constantly why going left is the right choice for you. When the arguments and fights in a relationship take up to much energy it is time to let go. Because neither one of you will benefit from the relationship. The atmosphere of constant arguments offers no room for personal growth.
You proof nothing continuing something that is obviously not going to work
There is no proof of perseverance, only a lack of intelligence in that. To fight for a relationship is only useful when both people involved want to and believe in the possibilities of making memories together.
Otherwise, it is useless.
There are so many nice and interesting people out there. Taking some distance is no problem when it makes you feel better. It is a problem when you take a step backward and you feel totally unhappy about it. After all, it is all about feelings and finding out what is right for you.
Positive relationships will inspire you and they add an important part to a happy life. You are worth it to surround yourself with people and a partner that makes you happy.
Relationships are the base for a happy life. But some take up to much energy and give a lot of stress
Cross-cultural relationships, for example, are more stressful than regular relationships and both parties might benefit from a little time out to think things through when times get tough. It will give you room to breathe, to work on the rough edges of the argument(s) and open your eyes to new perspectives that otherwise would have gone lost in the discussion.
It is important to honor your partner the freedom of their culture and respect their ‘odd ways’. And it is important since both of you have to express your emotions within the turmoil of adjusting to each other and/or a new culture, that you take time to relativize the weight of the argument. Is it worth the fight? Or is it time for a constructive conversation that takes you beyond the hurt and other feelings into an area where both of you can learn and grow, as a person and in the relationship.
When you do take time apart from the relationship make sure you communicate the ‘rules’ clearly:
is the relationship still on? Or can you both date other people?
how much time do you need a part to work things out?
do you keep in touch or you want a period of no contact?
how many contact moments do you prefer or how long will you go without contact?
does your partner understand why you need some distance?
how does he/she feel about that?
what can be done to create some acceptance if the other does not understand?
what are the issues you need to resolve?
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Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.