Mixed Race Heterosexual Couple Sitting On A Sofa looking Sad - Should I Stay or Should I Go- Quiz - Sandra Harewood

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Deciding on marriage or long term committed partnership and should I stay or go is hugely challenging to make. Divorce or separation means disentangling many different strands of your life, finances, homes and sometimes businesses.  Other aspects of your life are impossible to separate, i.e. children, and the very thought can feel like a heartbreaking nightmare.  

That’s why many people struggle with whether to stay or leave for years, and maybe even decades, while staying stuck in a relationship that isn’t working for them.  

Who’s That Person Over There?

This tussle is not uncommon. All relationships go through phases. Couples tend to get stuck after the inevitable disillusionment, leading to conflict, doubt, and the possibility of differentiation. Disillusionment is the first disappointment in the relationship.

Disillusionment shatters the illusion. It wakes you up.

This is when you see or at least begin to see the aspects of your partner which disappoints you. You have first sight of their limitations, their Shadow and the parts that make up the whole person, not just the features it served you to see when you first met.

The Merge

We read a lot about love bombing to describe the initial tense feeling with a particular individual. The fact is that all relationships, or all Western love-based relationships, have an initial romantic phase.

This is the phase where you feel connected, see things similarly, have enmeshed boundaries, and fall into the trap of thinking that the other person completes you. Oxytocin is rushing through your veins, and you imagine this is how the relationship will be forever. You’ve found your ‘perfect match,’ someone who is so eerily similar and compatible.

And why wouldn’t you feel that you’ve found your forever love? This model of love is celebrated through the arts in contemporary movies and not so recent fairy tales and heard in love songs. This is the cultural perception of what a good relationship looks like that’s embedded in our culture. 


But it’s not all love ballads.

The reality is that that fall or disillusionment is looming in all relationships. And it is in this phase couples usually struggle and wonder whether they should stay or leave. Because that’s when differences emerge, attachment styles come to the fore, and past traumas are reactivated.

At this point, there’s no hiding the power struggles in the relationship; the issues you both have consistently pushed under the carpet are now glaringly obvious. Some people become ever vigilant, ready to fly into battle at the slightest provocation. One of the main reasons relationships fail is that couples retrigger each other’s old wounds and don’t have the tools to stop the cycle of hurt.

Other couples might quietly move apart over time, putting less and less energy into maintaining the relationship and investing more outside of it.

Add to that the ever-present realities of being human….we all have our flaws and limitations. 

In this soup of confusion, if we don’t know how to navigate this phase, perhaps even if we do, we wonder whether we should stay or leave.

Developmental Tension

This phase is difficult to navigate. Most of us were not taught emotional and relationship literacy, so we go with the flow of what we witnessed in the relationships around us. Who taught you how to?

In the main, that was our parents or caregivers, but it’s also in the constant request of advice from friends about whether you should stay or go in the here and now. The problem is that our friends are just like us. Maybe that’s why we ask them. But they have their perspective on relationships based on their own familial and intergenerational experience. How can they advise you on what’s best for you? 

The Decision: Should I Stay or Go?

So when you’re stuck in this soup of confusion, considering should I stay or leave, many people think the following:

If I leave:  

Myth # 1: I’ll find someone that will make me happy.

Remember The Merge?

After a break-up, it’s a common misunderstanding that finding someone new is the cure to your unhappiness. The problem is your partner once made you happy. And the same person you’re thinking of leaving is the same person you married. Think about that.

The truth is that if you are looking for an external sense of happiness, then you are vulnerable to the same feeling of disappointment when you experience disillusionment again; because you will.

When you blame others for your unhappiness, you hand away power over your own life. And when we make others responsible for our happiness, we are vulnerable to attempting to control others to experience the relationship we want.
Happiness is an inside job; it starts from within.

You may have a happier, healthier relationship after a break-up, but that’s not likely until you have discovered a stable, consistent source of inner nourishment, connection, fulfilment and happiness at the core of yourself.

Myth # 2: I’ll be able to do things my partner stopped me from doing

At the end of a relationship, there’s a sense of freedom. Finally, you’ll get to start that business, run a half marathon or maybe revision yourself with a new look!  What was blocking you from accessing what you desired before; your ex?

Similarly to Myth # 1, the focus is on blame; somebody else stopped you from doing what you wanted to do with your life.

Control might have played a part in your relationship. But when your old inner beliefs surface and the other person is no longer available to be the block, you have to hold responsibility for these outcomes.  

You get to notice old stories such as ‘I’m not good enough.’, ‘I feel like a failure.‘ or ‘I don’t deserve abundance.‘ haven’t gone away because you’re partner has.

In time and with therapy or coaching, these voices will quieten down. But they don’t simply walk out the door because you have. 

If I stay:

Myth # 3: I won’t be alone

Suppose you have an ambivalent attachment style and are in a relationship with an avoidant person. In that case, you may behave in ways that try to draw the other person closer, so the relationship feels better, or at least more tolerable.

But in reality, those behaviours have the opposite effect and pushes the other person farther away. You’ll keep going around in circles, deepening the sense of isolation as you feel frustrated with your thwarted efforts.

Staying married so as not to feel alone rarely works.  You’re not really making the decision should I stay or go; you’re deciding not to decide.

What does work is learning to come into a relationship with yourself and being okay with being alone with you.

Myth # 4: If I can find out who my partner wants me to be

Maybe you’ve got to the point of realising that your partner isn’t going to change, so you decide that you will. You think that if you are what they want you to be, then everything will be fine. There’s nothing wrong with change; however, the motivation is misdirected.

The foundation of adult trust is not “You will never hurt me.” It is “I trust myself with whatever you do. David Richo

Because if that change results in you abandoning yourself so that your husband will not abandon you, that’s a relationship built on dishonesty and mistrust, i.e. I cannot trust you to accept me as I am. And I don’t trust myself to be honest with you about who I am. This situation is not a healthy relational dynamic and recipe for future resentment.

Over To You

Are you wondering, ‘Should I Stay or Go?’  If you want a safe space to explore this difficult decision, get in touch for a clarity session.  I offer video sessions online via a secure platform. 

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.


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© Sandra Harewood 2022

About Sandra

Soul Centred couples counsellor and relationship transformation coach Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and women with childhood wounds that impact their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship.


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