*QUESTION: Reconcile or Let Him Go? How Do I Decide?*
Dr. Ronn: He’s my first and only serious boyfriend and we’ve been together (on and off) since college. Both of us tend to go overboard when we get upset with each other. We “break up” every few months because of something (usually petty) one of us said or did. Within a few weeks, we always get back together again, until it happens all over again. Right now, we’re off again (I really can’t remember the reason). I’m starting to feel like our on-again/off again pattern is kind of childish. I’m tired of doing it. We love each other, but I am considering letting this be the official end of the relationship and moving on. But my mind keeps going back and forth. What can I do to help me make up my mind? – K.Z.
Dear K.Z. – As you have probably discovered, figuring out what you REALLY want in a situation like this, can feel like a tug of war going on inside you. Depending on the day it is (and the mood you’re in) both reconciling and not reconciling will seem like a good idea—AND a bad idea.
After all you’ve been through with this “yo-yo” relationship, your desire to seriously re-think it, could mean you are older and wiser now, with some experience under your belt. So you are much better equipped to make mature decisions now, not just do stuff for no conscious reason.
Your desire to reconcile (again and again) is because you keep trying to live that dream of love and romance that you’ve always wanted. It’s your attempt to revive that old passion you once had for him and the hopes you held at the beginning of your relationship.
At times, all of us wish we could return to ‘Go’ and start over with a fresh roll of the dice.
Or maybe, the idea of getting back together is not so much your own desire, but one that’s been “forced” upon you. Forced upon you by friends who warn that if you’ve got a man, you better keep him at all costs. Or it’s been forced upon you by your own fear of being alone, or of losing the comfort of maintaining a relationship that is not fulfilling, but it is familiar. Or forced upon you by a repentant mate, who’s full of promises or needs you are addicted to trying to meet. Who knows, maybe the idea of reconciling has been thrust upon by your family, your religion, or a sense of obligation.
Yes, you are older and wiser now, and you’ve got a BIG decision to make. And this stuff can be complicated…really complicated.
Often the first step is the most challenging one. Here’s a simple, but surprisingly effective way to jumpstart you into sound decision-making. It’ll take the question out of the purely “feelings-driven” and, ultimately, into a “facts AND feelings driven” final answer.
There is no hidden secret or magic to this. But it will help you clarify your thoughts and feelings to make a clear-headed decision with no regrets.
- Get a blank sheet of paper and draw a single line down the middle, dividing the page into equal columns.
- At the top on one side write the word STAY. The other side gets MOVE ON.
- Simply write down every reason for saving or ending the relationship in the applicable column. (No need for long details and do NOT edit your thoughts). Just keep adding your pros and cons as honestly as possible.
- Think, pray, and get wise input from those who know you well.
- Set an irrevocable “Day of Decision” to make the best choice you can for the best reasons you know.
- Tell 3 people your final decision and promise them you’ll follow through with it for 90 days.
- After that time, go through this entire process once again, to either reinforce or revoke your previous decision.
Bear in mind that staying means making one more commitment, to your relationship—that may or may not make a difference in the end. That commitment is not yours alone. You both have issues to resolve. It is not prudent to take the easy road by ducking the issues. Face them head on. Pay the price in the currency of hard work and honest communication, without it couples ALWAYS fall back into their old patterns. I highly recommend you couples counseling together, BEFORE you make your final decision.
On the other hand, moving on means you’ve already been there and done that enough now. The decision to move on means accepting reality as it is—not how you wish it would be.
It shuts down the option of going back into the relationship again. While it may be sad, it also frees you, making you fully available to the possibility of meeting someone and having a more stable and fulfilling relationship, and no more wondering whether you could or not.