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I know we’ve all been there before. There’s someone in your life that you care a lot about. You probably have a good amount of history together. But something isn’t quite right, and even if you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is, something about this person makes you feel… less than stellar, a lot of the time. It can be extremely difficult, especially in a close relationship (and I use that term to mean both romantic and platonic) to have to take a step back, especially if that might involve some kind of confrontation or break-up. Ending a relationship that brings you moments of joy and comfort can be hard to justify, even if that relationship also brings you a lot of pain and stress. But ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you, and make space in your life for the people who will only positively impact you. It can be hard to decide, so to make it a little easier, here are some of the ways you can tell if a relationship is no longer serving you.

1. You have to psych yourself up to hang out with them.

Do you find yourself having to emotionally prepare yourself before you see them? Maybe you feel like you can’t plan around it too much, because they’re constantly cancelling on you at the last minute. Or maybe you feel like you have to put aside everything else you have going on, because they make you feel like your own stuff isn’t as valid as theirs. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself even subconsciously having to brace yourself before you spend time with them, it may be that you don’t have as much fun as you think you do.

2. You feel emotionally drained after you see them.

Now, as an introvert, I feel emotionally drained after I hang out with most people. Still, there have been certain people in my life (the really close relationships I’ve had) who have made me feel alive and energized after spending time with them. However, when those relationships have started to decline, I noticed a big difference in the way I felt after I spent time with that person. Even if I didn’t immediately feel drained, I would notice over the course of the next few days that I would withdraw anymore and become upset when I couldn’t immediately hang out with them again, almost like a relationship withdrawal - this is not healthy.

3. You feel like the relationship is unequal.

If you feel like you put in a lot more effort to the relationship than the other person does (you always text them first, or are always the one to make plans), then it may not be a healthy and balanced relationship. While everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and no relationship can be 100% equal, there should still be a give-and-take. It’s one thing to make the plans most of the time, but it’s another to always be the only one to make any sort of plans. If the other person isn’t putting in very much effort, it may be that they’re not as invested in the relationship as you are, and frankly, you deserve better.

4. You find yourself making a lot of excuses for them, to yourself and others.

If you ever find yourself having to make excuses for a person instead of simply accepting their flaws, you may be in an unhealthy relationship. Whether it’s making excuses to yourself so you can keep that person in your life when they shouldn’t be, or making excuses to other loved ones who have noticed an imbalance in your relationship, you shouldn’t feel like you have to justify another person’s flaws. Excuses are just a product of denial, so think honestly with yourself about why you feel the need to make excuses for that person.

5. There’s a specific reason you might be afraid to lose them, other than just that you would miss them.

When you think about breaking off the relationship, how do you feel? Do you think to yourself, ‘I can’t lose this person, I care about them so much!’ or do you think ‘I can’t break up with them, they stood with me through <insert tough situation>’, or ‘I can’t stop being friends with them, who will I do <insert specific/niche interest or activity> with?’ If you can think of a specific reason why you don’t want to lose that relationship, like not wanting to be single again or have to find a new best friend to spend your time with, ask yourself if that’s really a reason to stay in an unhealthy relationship.

Breakups, romantic or platonic, can suck. It’s horrible to have to lose someone important to you, even if they don’t treat you the way that they should. But at the same time, it’s important to take care of yourself - there are so many people out there who only wish they’d realised sooner that they needed to get out of that relationship. If you even feel like walking away is something to consider, it’s probably the right choice - your happiness should be your top priority!

Emily Childress

St Andrews '22

Emily Childress is a third year at St Andrews and is from Haymarket, VA, USA. She is also an English major in the Joint Degree Programme with the College of William & Mary. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, telling any dog she sees how cute they are, trying out different coffee shops, and looking contemplatively out over the North Sea as she pretends to be in a Brontë novel.
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