Unhealthy Relationships: Should I Stay or Leave?

Discerning if You Should Stay in or Leave a Relationship

Unhealthy relationships can be draining, painful, and frustrating. If you find that a relationship with someone you’re dating, someone you live with, or a friend has become a toxic relationship, it is normal to ask tough questions about whether you should go your own way.

I find it best to consider distancing myself from relationships that I find harmful to my health or threatening to my safety. When deciding how to move forward with a difficult relationship, think about it and how it is changing you.

How to Know You Should Leave an Unstable Relationship

Do You Feel Unsafe?

Your safety should be a top priority. If you feel physically threatened, have experienced abuse of any kind, or are worried that someone will become abusive, take action as soon as you can. 

There are many abuse support groups, prevention organizations, and abuse hotlines that are available around the clock to listen, offer advice, and help you make a plan for greater physical and emotional safety.

Remember: abuse tends to happen in a cycle. If you have ever been abused in family relationships, or are in a dating relationship where your partner has tried to control you, the problem is likely to repeat itself. Having the courage to reach out to someone trained to help you will allow you to break free of this dangerous cycle much sooner.

Do You Feel Small?

There are few things more upsetting than when someone makes you feel small. I’ve seen how some people demean others to make themselves feel better, or to appear more popular and powerful. If you’re being treated this way, there is no reason to continue in a friendship or relationship where bullying is the norm.

Are They Willing to Make an Effort?

Not all relationships with an unhealthy pattern have to end. In some cases, you may feel uncomfortable or frustrated, but still feel safe enough with that person to talk about it. Working through relationships can be rewarding if both people involved are willing to make an effort to listen, learn, and respect one another.

If you’ve never brought up what bothers you about a relationship, try communicating your feelings and needs to your friend, partner, or family member. It may be that they were unaware their behavior was upsetting you. Clear communication often opens the door for stronger relationships. 

What Should You Do?

Every relationship is different, but you should prioritize your wellbeing and safety when deciding whether to leave an unhealthy relationship. This commitment is an important step in greater mental health and better self-care

Sometimes you need time alone to center yourself and get to the bottom of your true feelings about a challenging relationship. If you feel conflicted about whether leaving a relationship is the right decision, seeking answers in your faith may help.

Whatever decisions you make, remember God cares about you and His plans for you are hopeful ones.
If you’ve tried to talk things through and feel like you’re hitting a wall, I know how frustrating that can be. The good news is you don’t have to go through this alone. 

Talk to a HopeCoach at TheHopeLine if you’re having difficulty working through relationships or planning for your safety. We are here for you and we believe you can find happiness in your friendships and relationships.

If relationships are not building you up, it is worth finding new relationships. Watch this video from a licensed counselor helping you with the fears of ending a toxic relationship.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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