> Should You Stay in That Relationship or Go?
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Should You Stay or Go?


I once spoke with a man who said he had been seeing a woman for two years.

“Her family doesn’t live in the U.S. She is lonely and has some health problems. There is no one else to help her,” he said.

 “Does she want to get married?” I asked.

“Yes, she does” he said.

“Do you want to marry her?” I asked.

“No, I don’t.”

“Why are you staying in relationship with her?” I asked.

“Because she has a lot of needs—and she is alone.”

Sure, this nice guy felt sorry for the woman he was dating, but I sensed there was something deeper motivating him to stay in a relationship when he should call things off. So, I asked, “What do you think it will say about you if you break up with her?”

“It will mean I’m a jerk. And, I don’t want to be a jerk.”

“You think it will mean you're a bad person if you tell her you want to stop seeing her?”


“You said she wants to marry, right?”


“So, if you stay with her and you don’t break things off and you don’t give her the opportunity to find someone else who can love her and wants to marry her, what does that say about how you are treating her?”

He smiled glumly. “I am being a jerk,” he said.

“It’s truly not gracious to stay," I said. "I know it's difficult to let go, but you are just prolonging her disappointment and pain. You aren’t giving her the opportunity to become who she is supposed to be, and to be with someone who does want to marry her. And, you also you aren’t treating yourself well if you’d like to marry.”

We went on to talk a little longer about the internal motivations that were driving him to stay. He’s a nice guy. He wants to be helpful. He doesn’t want to hurt her. He doesn’t want be a jerk.

This conversation got me thinking about the relationships singles stay in when they shouldn’t. (Believe me, I’ve been there!)

A woman may hang on to a relationship when she should let go because it’s meeting an internal need. For example, perhaps like the man I described, she has the need not to feel as if she is being unkind.

Maybe she fears being alone so staying meets that need. 

Maybe she fears the judgment of others so staying meets that need. 

Maybe she fears starting over, having her heart broken, or perhaps she doesn’t trust her ability to make a good relational choice.

Maybe she’s lost hope. She doesn’t believe she will ever find a good man to marry.  She thinks,  “Someone is better than no one,” so she stays when she shouldn’t.

There can be all kinds of unhealthy motivations that can cause a woman to stay in relationships when she should go.

Remember, to find a good relationship, you need to free up yourself for that good relationship.

That means if you are staying when you’ve got that lingering feeling that something isn’t right (and if others you trust have told you they don’t feel good about your relationship), it's time to do an inventory and come face-to-face with why you are staying.

If you have a pattern of getting stuck in dead-end relationships, ask yourself,

What needs or desires are these relationships meeting?

Is staying preventing me from facing fear, loneliness, criticism, or something else?

How is staying in this relationship serving me—or keeping me from facing what I don't want to face? 

Is staying keeping you from feeling like a bad person if you leave?

It is keeping you from facing the fear of making a mistake or the fear of regret? 

Take a look at your relational history and at your current relationship if you are in one. What motivated--and is motivating--you to stay? Are your motivations healthy or unhealthy? Are they based on truth or lies?

If the answers you come up with point to an unhealthy motivation, it’s time to address that motivation, and maybe even break up.

If you need to get some relationship coaching or counsel before you make a decision, do it. Don’t wait. Don’t waste time because time is precious.

Be relationally intentional. You don't want to wake up a year, two years, or five years from now and realize that you were spinning your wheels in a relationship that wasn't ever going to be right for you--or the other person.  

Be encouraged. The desire you have to love and be loved is possible. 

"Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27b)



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