Saturday, August 18, 2012

When to Break Up Even Though You're Still in Love

It’s sometimes tough to decide when to break up when something is going wrong in a relationship. It’s even tougher to decide when to break up when it seems like everything is going right. But even when two people are in love with each other, it’s not always the wisest option to stay together. Here are three situations in which breaking up now may save you heartache in the long run.

When to break up because you disagree on a fundamental issue

My husband and I learned firsthand when to break up because of a disagreement over a fundamental issue. We had been dating for only about three months when he made an important admission: he had a different belief than I did about family planning. He knew I wanted to use natural family planning due to my religious beliefs. But he thought it was necessary to use artificial birth control in order to avoid having too many kids. Reality smacked us in the face. We couldn’t practice different family planning methods. Not being able to see how a future was possible, we decided it was time to break up. Fortunately for us, after a lot of soul-searching and discussion, we came to an agreement and (obviously) got back together. But if an agreement doesn’t seem possible, perhaps it’s better to break up than to hope one person will change later.

When to break up because of distance

How do you know when to break up because of distance? Some couples make their relationships work despite miles of separation for months or even years at a time. But it’s one thing if the separation has an end date, such as a military deployment, a post doc position, or a research opportunity abroad. It’s another thing when two people are living in different cities, with stable jobs, and neither is particularly willing to move. If you’re building separate lives instead of working toward one life together, it might be time to break up and take some time to figure out what you really want.

When to break up because you have different lifestyle plans

Opposites attract, but if you have opposite ideas of where or how you should live your life, you may need to break up. When I was in college, I had a boyfriend who was in the military. He kept saying that he was going to get out and go to college or find a civilian job, but then he re-enlisted. He really loved the military life and couldn’t picture himself doing something different. I, on the other hand, didn’t want to deal with the deployments and sacrifices that accompany military marriages. We had different lifestyle plans. In those situations, either one partner has to make a drastic compromise in order to please the other, or the couple needs to break up. Breaking up in this situation gave us each the chance to find someone who had similar values and visions of the future.

In none of these situations is breaking up easy. It requires two people admitting that despite their love for each other, they’re not right for each other. Although at the time it may be the hardest thing two people have ever done, bright futures await those who wisely decide to break up for a good reason.

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