Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

When To Let Go: Ending Unhealthy Relationships

Having the confidence to walk away from someone who mistreats us is wonderful. It breaks the cycle and opens us up to healthier experiences. But how do we know if breaking contact is the right move?

After all, people are rarely villains. These nefarious characters only exist in books and movies. 

Real human beings, however, are a puzzling mix of both wicked and virtuous traits.

The person who recently upset us is almost certainly as many-sided. And if they’ve also once made us feel cared for and loved, their hideous deeds are all the more vexing.

But it doesn’t have to be.

If we step away from our pain and try to look through their eyes, we might find a very simple reason for their wrongdoings.

Most people who behave horribly act out because they’re hurt or afraid themselves. Strong individuals have no need to wreak havoc. But someone who’s struggling to keep their head over water doesn’t know any better than to violently flail about.

So if someone’s transgressions are all we can see, then we need to step back and catch sight of their situation and strengths.

If we do, we might just find out they’re terrific people going through difficult times.

That perspective doesn’t justify their misdeeds, but our compassion does make it easier for our wrongdoer to own their mistakes and make it up to us.

Without a chance to make amends, there can’t be repair. And there lies the crux of the entire thing.

We can stand confidently behind our choice to sever contact if we’ve given the other person plenty of opportunities to set everything straight, and they’ve come up short, time and time again.

A single incident is never enough to break a relationship by itself. A strong bond only breaks when both parties don’t have the patience, humility and tenderness to understand each other’s needs and make things right. 

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach