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Breaking up is hard enough. But deciding whether or not to hand someone their walking papers may be tougher. Complicated by ambivalent emotions, opposing motives, wishful thinking, and blurred vision, one remains at an indecisive standstill. Uncertainty keeps men and women in unwise, unhealthy, and unsatisfying relationships way too long.

How many times have you threatened to break up? How many times have you been lulled back into the arms of your lover by romantic gestures, an artful arbitrator, or a dateless Saturday night?

Your decision is too important to be based upon a large bouquet of roses, a near-perfect night of sex, or a moderately pleasing partner.

Fortunately, you can make a near air-tight case for breaking up or staying together. This article is your mini-workbook. It assists your exploration into the facts and uncovers pertinent evidence designed to erase ambivalence and indecision. For maximum results, proceed step by step.

Developing the Necessary Objectivity

Developing the necessary objectivity for your investigation is absolutely imperative, but it’s a tall order. You must be detached and free of bias. Without taking this first step, there is no need to continue. You will be just as confounded and confused after the necessary extensive soul-searching.

Play a game to get started. Pretend the relationship you are examining is a friend’s. She has come to you for advice. Rid yourself of prejudice and personal feelings, but maintain granules of sensitivity. Position yourself on the outside looking in. You may be amazed at what you see.

Three Requirements for Romantic Objectivity

Turn on a Neutral Mindset. There are abundant studies to convince you of the importance of a neutral mindset when making a romantic decision.

To get yourself into neutral territory, clear your head of thoughts that could color your perception. Sit yourself down in a seat of judgment that won’t be tainted by a bad mood. Otherwise even the best of times together could take on an unfair dinginess in this dimmed light.

If you have to blow steam before your can begin fair and square, go to the gym or eat that piece of cake. But find your mental balance.

Stop Listening to Your Heart and Body. Stow the passions of the heart and the heat of the body. Previous articles have provided ample evidence that ought to persuade you that neither are reliable or objective decision makers.

That means put a lid on the anger. Toss the disappointment. Stow the longing for love. Squelch the hurt feelings. Can the plot full of revenge. And dump the denial.

If you want to maintain this thoughtful balance when making a romantic decision, don’t sit in a darkened theater watching a romantic movie. Don’t visit a cozy, intimate restaurant full of loving couples. Don’t listen to ballads of love.

Rely on the Facts. If you have been able to fulfill the requirements of the first two steps, the facts should surface clearly. How you interpret them might be another story. There have been enough celebrated court cases to remind us that even substantial evidence can be twisted inside out.

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But if you rely on the cold hard facts, you will be less likely to be led astray by wishful thinking, disappointment, or perceived rejection. If your love interest didn’t call when he said he would, don’t guess why not. Ask why! If your date doesn’t show up to take you to an important engagement, don’t make excuses for her. Get to the truth. Ask where she was. Accept only the plausible answers.

To illustrate these points, let’s examine Sally and see how she does with objectivity.

A Case of Missing Objectivity.

Sally’s case is classic. It has all the elements akin to missing objectivity. She had been involved with Sam for more than a year when she began telling me about their relationship. At first she made it sound ideal. Sam was in law school. They would most likely marry when he finished.

When I saw Sally several months later, they were living together. She was working hard to pay their bills. Sam was regularly skipping classes but told Sally not to worry. She still believed he would graduate and that they would marry. She complained he wasn’t doing his share in the house and that the relationship was troubled. Nonetheless, she had no intention of calling it quits. She had high hopes things would improve.

As you have probably guessed, the last time I saw Sally, Sam had dropped out of school completely. But he had not gotten a job. Rather, he was sorting things out. Evidently he had ample time to strike up an extra relationship that Sally discovered. She was crafty enough to find the phone number and contact his undercover girlfriend who then bid Sam farewell.

Sally took consolation in successfully severing Sam’s extracurricular activities. However, steeped in longing for her relationship to work out, she rejected the unbiased perceptions of bystanders and refused to view the plentiful evidence objectively. She allowed Sam to stay, extracted promises that proved empty, and set deadlines for reform that went unmet.

Plotting Your Destination on a Love Map

Every time you meet someone who strikes you as a potential date or partner, unknowingly or not you superimpose your love map on top of his identity. If the physical characteristics sufficiently match what turns you on, you automatically advance the comparison to the next level.

Because your love map secretly follows you everywhere, it is a worthwhile exercise to get it down in black and white. Your map explicitly reflects the sum of your experiences as they add up to form the ideal picture of a mate. The purpose of employing your love map in the discussion of breaking up is to locate your destination and check if your compass is pointing you in the right direction.

Use Caution Following Your Map

Remember that your map represents your ideal partner. Don’t let it trip you up. Research has unearthed enough people who, in pursuit of Prince or Princess Charming, continuously discard love interests and end up alone.

Your map is a wish list, not a must-have list. No one fits into all these lines of longitude and latitude perfectly. Sorry, mates are not made to order.

Create a Realistic Picture

Use your love map to your advantage. List each of the qualities you have noted on your map in order of importance. Next, assign each quality a percentage point that represents the minimum amount of this trait that is acceptable to you. Keep in mind that you are after a reasonable combination of traits and characteristics. Demanding 100 percent fulfillment of your love map is folly.

Try to be realistic. Say that the number one attribute your love interest must demonstrate is intelligence. You have an ideal level of intelligence in mind. Now ask yourself what percent of that ideal would be acceptable. Then assess what percent of the ideal your love interest actually possesses.

What Do You Want Out of This Relationship?

You can’t apply critical standards of measurement to a relationship unless you determine what it is you want out of it. Complete, unadulterated honesty is called for. There is no purpose in fooling yourself. If you are looking for a husband, admit it to yourself. If you are looking for a romantic traveling companion, that’s okay too. But make a determination. After you do, here are my recommendations:

If it’s marriage you are after, apply the strictest, most reasonable standards of your love map.

If live-in love will do, no less than spousal requirements are permissible.

If you are uncertain but think this person has possibilities, then proceed slowly. No one is forcing you into a decision.

If it’s a romantic fling you want, make sure neither of you will be damaged by a breakup.

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If a sexual companion is what you seek, be prudent. Make sure he or she is free of deadly organisms, is a fabulous lover, and that both of you are on the same page.

What’s Your Reason for Wanting to Break Up?

If you can’t put your finger on it, maybe one of the reasons listed below will do. When you choose one you like pay particular attention to the warning labels. Some things are easier to fix than others.

Boredom. Boredom is the number one reason couples report breaking up and applies to both men and women. Whether accurately perceived or unduly exaggerated, if one person feels she has fallen into a rut and is trapped by routine, she is likely to try to escape.

However, setting every scene with mystery and choreographing each act with new steps is going too far. The boredom is most likely evolving out of a mismatch personality, interests, needs, and passion simply don’t create enough excitement. The world outside the confines of the relationship looks more appealing and stimulating than what’s happening inside the supposed love nest.

If your eye keeps wandering because you think your partner is too predictable, reverts to the same conversation, is unwilling to try new things, or doesn’t raise your thermostat, you’re probably struck with boredom.

Standing Still. Your relationship is at a standstill, you are stranded at critical intersections, and no one is making a move in any direction. In other words, this relationship isn’t going anywhere, or at least not in the direction you want it to. For women that direction is usually marriage. For men it is usually sex or living together then marriage. However, if there aren’t any real signs of love, you could be stalled for years.

The impetus for men to marry or commit is nearly always romantic love. They were romantics long before women agreed that love was the best reason to give their heart away. A study of college men showed that 80 percent said they would not marry someone unless they were in love.

One the other hand, The Probabilities for Breaking Up. Real love takes time to develop.

A Change of Heart. You just realized you have been fooling yourself. Your relationship is based on nothing more than familiarity and comfort. You were content to have a partner who fit your immediate but not your long-term needs. Then you took a job in another city, made new friends, or went through a life altering experience. Something happened to shake off your complacency. Suddenly you are critical of your partner and unhappy with your relationship.

Be careful, however, that your change of heart is permanent and not a temporary detour.

No Chemistry. Okay, you just aren’t getting turned on. Your love interest is a great person, has all the attributes you are looking for, but doesn’t float your boat. The fact of the matter is, you can’t talk yourself into attraction.

why relations can be confusing

A 30-year-old medical resident confessed he had found the perfect woman. She was bright; they were great friends and had a wonderful time together; her family was terrific; she could be a real asset to his career. Nonetheless, there wasn’t any passion in his lovemaking. He tried to talk himself into a romantic relationship that would lead to marriage, but he couldn’t do anything to improve the chemistry in the lab. Eventually, he broke it off. There was no surprise on the other end.

Five Reasons to Stay

Before you say good-bye, consider whether or not you are ignoring some good reasons to stay.

Your love interest:

1. Makes your day better purely because she is a part of your life

2. Makes you feel wonderful about yourself

3. Is fun to be with, and you want to learn more about him

4. Is someone with whom you share affection, values, and goals

5. Stimulates you and contributes to your growth

Ten Reasons to Leave.

Too many reasons to leave overrule reasons to stay. Each of those posed below are serious indications of an unhealthy relationship. You can do better!

1. The relationship is lopsided and lacks equality.

2. You caught this person repeatedly lying. (Lying is a reflection of character.

3. He or she cheated on you more than once.

4. Your love interest shows little consideration by frequently breaking dates, canceling plans, or showing up late.

5. This individual is emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive.

6. He is not paying his fair share for your live-in abode.

7. She lowers your self-esteem, stunts your growth, or prevents you from obtaining your personal goals.

8. Your partner lacks tolerance and is dangerously jealous.

9. You don’t make each other laugh.

10. He was just a meal ticket, and you’re going on a diet.