How do you know when it’s time to move on?


A few years ago I was in a dysfunctional and co-dependent relationship. We were both running from issues in our past and dealing with the feelings they brought up in unhealthy ways: too much alcohol, junk food, smoking, refusing to face our personal issues, and not spending any time or energy toward emotional, mental, spiritual or physical self development. I did love him and he loved me but eventually I had had enough and started putting my life together.

I wanted a better life for myself and was willing to go the distance but unfortunately, as he was not ready to deal with his own issues, as my life started to improve and I adopted healthier habits he felt left behind. He pouted, blamed, whined and retaliated. Eventually I realized that no matter how much I loved him, he wasn’t ready to love himself enough to save himself or our relationship.

Sooner or later each one of us will have to make the difficult decision between staying in a relationship and moving on. A knee jerk reaction to the thought of a relationship ending is usually to hold on tighter. It is caused by fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Change crawls through our imagination and torments us with negative outcomes. We panic. Our footing feels unsure and we have to hold on to something. We reach out desperately and hold on even tighter to that which we should really let go of.


If we’re lucky, it’s a short-lived reaction.

You see, once we’ve reached the point of having to make a choice between staying and moving on it’s usually because deep down we already know that the relationship is not working and it’s not right. Our instincts tell us so. We already know it is time to let go and move on, and no matter how impossible it seems to compose the pros and cons lists they must be done. That’s when we know we have to let go of the all-too-human fear of change, really search our hearts, and ask ourselves the difficult questions:

Am I really being myself or have I been changing myself in little ways to accommodate another?

While accommodation and compromise are necessary parts of all relationships, have any of the compromises and accommodations I have made lately left me feeling unhappy or lost or like I am less than the person I know I am?

Have I put myself on the back burner?

Am I being true to my heart and following my instinct?

Am I whole enough on my own and really ready to SHARE my life? Or has the relationship been filling a void that I am yet to fill within myself?

Is that person whole enough on their own and really ready to share his life with me?

Is the person I am reluctant to let go of truly ready to inspire, challenge, nurture and love me?

Am I truly ready to inspire, challenge, nurture and love that person in return?

What is it that I am so afraid of? Is it that I won’t know how to stand on my own or that I don’t know how to enjoy my own company? Is it that I am afraid that I will be unloved? Where is the fear really coming from?

Do I understand that letting go and moving on doesn’t mean the absence of caring and love, but instead means acceptance, trust and self-love?

Do I realize that if I hold onto this relationship which isn’t working with the blind hope that things will change, I will never make room for the relationship that can work?

We are the only ones who can truly know our hearts. If we respect and trust what our hearts feel, allow ourselves to be honest, and listen to and accept what our instincts guide us to do, we can find the strength to make the right choice.


Further reading:

How to determine if a relationship is codependent and how to end it the healthy way.


  1. I think you were in my head when you wrote this.

    You gave me some advice a while back about my relationship. I wasn’t in a place yet where I could look at it from the outside but now I am. I’m asking myself all of these questions.

    Thank you.

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