Leaving a long-term relationship can be difficult, even when all the signs to let go are there. This was evident when W24 recently published a story titled: 8 signs it is time to let go of a relationship that doesn't serve you anymore.
Having read the signs detailed below, many wrote in, conceding that their relationships are not as healthy as they'd hoped. The warning signs, according to the article are:
1 - You/your partner are detached from your relationship and are just going through the motions.
2 - There is very little engagement, communication, or connection between you – everything happens on a superficial level.
3 - There's no talk about the future or putting any future goals in place.
4 - The relationship is one-sided – your needs are not taken into account.
5 - You/your partner are using unhealthy avoidance/coping mechanisms such as alcohol, substance abuse, stonewalling, silent treatment, etc.
6 - You/your partner are non-committal regarding conversations, making plans or taking action.
7 - You/your partner keep threatening to walk away/end the relationship.
8 - You have underlying resentment about things that happened in the past and are not able to forgive and move forward together.
Many of the readers who wrote in admit that remaining in their long-term relationships has become increasingly difficult for various reasons. These include detaching from a partner, little to no communication, one-sided relationships, or the inability to move past conflicts.
Although many felt it's time to move on, they are fearful of life without their partner, or are worried that leaving could be a mistake. These feelings are not unusual.
"Often, fear holds us back from making that final decision to let go," relationship expert Paula Quinsee told W24 when breaking down the eight signs that it's time to walk away.
While painful to admit, so many people are going through struggles, and scouring through dozens of emails made us realise one thing - you may feel that you're fighting this battle alone, but you are not.
See some of the stories shared with us below:
*Ntombi says she has been with her fiancé for three years. Everything was perfect until she fell pregnant. "He started to change," she explains in a message to W24. "[He was] not sleeping at home, drinking too much, wasting money in clubs till I got a miscarriage last year.
"It was painful. I was alone till I decided to leave him, but he came back and asked me to come home and apologised for everything he did to me."
Ntombi decided to forgive her ex and take him back. But things went from bad to worse. "I found out that he was cheating on me while I was pregnant; he even went as far as renting a flat for the girl.
"After that, everything changed; even today nothing seems to be working, he always accuses me of cheating while there are not even any signs of me cheating, and I think that's what he's doing every time he blackmails me because he knows that he has lots of money. I am tired. I want to leave him, but it's difficult for me."
Another anonymous note tells the story of a broken marriage:
"I am in a marriage where I feel like letting go, but the point is I have his child with me, which does not let me take this step.
"I have been so confused that I lost the direction of my life," the anonymous woman writes, adding that her family has advised her to stay with her husband for the sake of their child.
"But I can't be [with] someone who does not even talk to me or share his feelings or even express anything to me. I feel I am living [with] someone who does not exist in the same house; he is never there... he is just doing his duty of being a father."
In a concise message, one reader tells of the strain caused by a long-distance relationship:
"One-sided relationship. A long-distance relationship. He left [6 months ago]. I haven't seen him in Person since. But he calls and texts me every day. Now I am in a little depression and can't think straight. I should know better than to cling to him. But he is the best guy I ever dated."
Many readers express fear of leaving a long-term relationship, admitting that they have attached a sense of self-worth to their partner. Another reader says:
"Marriage of 34 years, but it's not working anymore. It has not been working for a very long time now. I am scared to make that decision, because I feel I don't have a life outside this marriage."
Walking away is even tougher when you share children with your partner
"Letting go is hard especially when you have kids together," writes another anonymous reader.
"I have four kids with my partner, and we have been on this song and dance for more than two years. She doesn't want the relationship anymore but wants us to live together and raise the kids. We have both had affairs, but we still keep coming back to one another. We fight often and can't seem to let go of past hurts. Resentments and disrespect are rife in the relationship, and once I threw her things out, and we are back together.
"Now I want to move out, but she won't agree to it, saying we should stick together for the kids. There is no sex, not even hugs, and it's beginning to feel like I am trapped. I plan on just moving out without any warning because I am fed up. The emotional trauma is too much. She says I am too eager to get results, but I feel after two years, and you say you don't want a marriage, the best thing is to let the man go."
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety/depression or requires someone to talk to, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 0800 567 567.
*Names have been changed or removed to protect the privacy of those who have shared their stories.