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How do I know if I should end things?

Published on February 21, 2013 by abrimmell

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 2 years. It started off fantastic and we got along great. Now we bicker and fight over everything. I swear we cant go 4 days without at least bickering. Ive thought about ending things but it doesn't feel right.He gets along great with my family and they like him. Id hate to see that end. He has hurt me in the past. Nothing physical and nothing along the lines of cheating but still broke my heart. I still hate imagining life without him. He means so much to me but this fighting is making me miserable. I cant really say if I'm truly happy anymore. I don't know if I'm no longer happy in this relationship or I'm just upset because of the fighting.

ANSWERS

It sounds like the "honeymoon period" in your relationship is finally over -- and I'd say it's lasted pretty long! In fact, that's a good sign that your relationship may not be over and is instead experiencing some "growing pains." Bickering often intervenes as relationships progress and stress mounts up due to other areas of life. I've been married nearly 35 years, and my husband and I bicker now more than ever, especially when one or both are under stress. We fortunately know that our bickering doesn't mean we aren't meant to be together or that we don't love each other, and when we notice what's happening we do apologize and appreciate each other.

Are any of the things you're bickering about what I'd call "deal breakers" -- issues or events that you can't forgive no matter what? If so, you may be ready to separate and move on, especially since you said he broke your heart.

Before you walk away, however, consider whether he and you are under stress in other parts of your life. If that's true, think about how you might relieve those stresses for yourself -- and if possible help him relieve his stress. One relationship tool I use wherever possible is "the benefit of the doubt" -- not assuming that what feels personal is indeed personal. All of us react to stress by doing whatever makes us feel better even if others get hurt in the crossfire (usually those we love most). This doesn't excuse verbal or physical abuse, but it can give us a fresh perspective on what feels hurtful by not assuming it's just about us.

If your boyfriend truly loves you, he'll be open to hearing that you're feeling unhappy and that you want to do whatever it takes for both of you to be happy again. Happiness ebbs and flows, by the way, especially in long-term relationships, so take that into account. But if your arguments or experiences include some dealbreakers, it might be time for you to move on. Even if your family likes him and vice versa (which is not always the case!), if he doesn't care how you're feeling or isn't listening to you when he could and should, their opinion doesn't count as much as yours.

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