relationships - dating - love - intimacy - health
The way you think about your relationships, the skills and attitudes you bring to them and the time and effort you put in can make all the difference. People are social creatures and relationships matter to us. We enjoy them, we cry over them and we're curious about how to get our relationships to be the way we want them. How well your relationships work can have a big impact on how satisfied you feel with life. Stimulating, resilient, satisfying relationships with partners, friends and family rank high on many people's wish list for a happy life.
Falling out of love can sometimes be just as easy as falling in love. Working out whether it's just a phase or if your relationship has reached the end of the line is one of life's hardest decisions. A relationship psychotherapist asks the difficult questions.

The pros and cons
When people try to decide if their relationship's over, they often find themselves weighing up the pros and cons.

On the pros side they put all their partner's positive character traits, the happy memories and the advantages of being together.

On the cons they list all the things they don't like about their partner, the painful memories and the reasons why living together sometimes feels impossible.

The problem with this system is that they're never measuring like for like. For example, when listing personal qualities, how many negatives would it take to counteract being an excellent mother? And how many happy memories does it take to outweigh an affair?

Unfortunately, there's no formula and no conclusive tests when it comes to deciding whether your relationship's over. All you can do is ask yourself some difficult, soul-searching questions and see what the answers bring.

Is love enough?
Love means different things to different people and at different stages of their lives, so can it be relied on in the decision-making process? For example, one woman may spend years in an abusive relationship, saying "I love him," while another will walk away from a seemingly idyllic marriage because she's no longer "in love".

Love can sometimes blind us to the reality of what we really have. And although it's difficult, we can choose to love someone and we can choose to stop loving them. As well as being a feeling, love is something we do.

Do you like your partner?
Before you can love someone, you have to like them. If you enjoy being with your partner, agree with how they think and behave, and share the same dreams in life, you're doing well. If your partner is also someone whom you respect, trust and feel affection for, you have all the basics for love to grow.

Can you communicate?
All relationships hit problems at one time or another; the key to overcoming them is communication.

Within your relationship, there needs to be a genuine capacity for sharing and expressing your thoughts and feelings in a way that feels OK for you both. There also need to be ways to resolve conflict and for you both to address any unmet needs.

Is change possible?
If there's a particular issue that makes you want to leave, you first need to consider whether it's possible to make changes to resolve the problem.

Is the problem something you can let go, or is it fundamental to your happiness? If it's the former, you have to ask yourself if you can change; if it's the latter, can your partner do the changing?

If your partner doesn't agree that there's a problem, they won't change. If they do agree and are willing to change, you have to decide whether you believe they have the capacity to change.

Is it too late?
There's no doubt that some situations do get better with time. Even the most painful betrayals can become less significant if there's an ability to forgive and move on.

But if either you or your partner has been hanging on to a grudge for years and there's no indication that the pain has eased at all, you may decide it's too late for a resolution.

Another indication that it may be too late to save the relationship is if one of you has already started to develop a life that excludes the other. This might include a change in career or lifestyle, or starting another relationship that you don't want to end. If this is the case, then even though you haven't made a verbal decision to end the relationship, it may be that emotionally you've already left.