Relationships are one of the most powerful platforms we have for personal evolution. They have the potential to elicit an awakening or a shift in consciousness, just as they can stagnate our evolution or even cause de-evolution. They can bring out the best and the worst in us. They can be our highest highs and lowest lows. Regardless if we have the best schooling, most advanced technology or abundant finances, every one of us is prone to relationship challenges. It is part of our natural growth and development. However how we handle these opportunities largely dictates our quality of life, inner peace and evolution. Within this spectrum resides one of the most vital pieces, and the topic of this essay—knowing when to hold on and when to let go.
The dialogue presented in this essay will focus on romantic relationships, or intimate partnerships. However in one sense or another, it can be applied to all relationships, whether these be friend, work, family or other. When the topic of holding on or letting go comes up, most of us can relate to discussing this in nearly any relationship dynamics, except for family relations. Here, too many of us feel that we have no choice. That “letting go” of a certain family member relationship is simply not an option. However, as we grow and evolve to understand the greater nature of reality, it is pertinent to add here that the bonds we have in our lifetime, with a specific group of people are not all there is. We have all been mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons to someone, many, many times. Each time we take on different roles. Ones that will prove most beneficial for that particular incarnation or stage of evolution. So if your family relationships are suitable and in alignment with your journey, then by all means enjoy them and the platform they provide for your growth. However, if there is a lack of alignment, and presence of serious incompatibilities, then it may be valuable for you to consider even in these relationships, when to hold on and when to let go.
When we look at romantic relationship patterns over the past few decades, many changes are evident. The days of formal courting dissolved, male and female roles began to balance out, and dating trends took on new forms. Divorce rates increased. Marriage rates decreased. Same sex relationships and common-law partnerships became more prevalent and recognized. Many people still cite the popular statistics that half of all marriages end in divorce, but this isn’t accurate. It depends on various factors, like what geographical area we are talking about, not to mention that many countries like US and Canada, have stopped detailed record keeping of these numbers for years now. Additionally, divorce rates don’t take into consideration the couples who separate, but never actually divorce. So the number can be both lower, or higher, depending on the demographic studied, but in the most generalized sense in North America appears to be around 40%. Regardless, this statistic no longer provides a full picture of relationships when it comes to longevity due to the many, new relationship trends. What we can be sure about however, is that regardless of the relationship type, some are ended prematurely, while others overstay their welcome. Below, we will examine the value of relationships in the context of personal evolution, consider the two cases mentioned above, and finish off by looking at some practical and consciousness expanding tips to help you make the best choice for your relationship situation.
Relationship Roles in Personal Evolution
Before we begin to discern whether leaving or staying in an intimate partnership is the right answer for you, we need to have a common understanding of the value of relationships when it comes to our personal evolution. From a practical, mainstream perspective, romantic partnerships can serve many purposes that include, but are not limited to: companionship, having children, financial benefits and increased quality of life. However, we are going to be talking about the value of relationships from the perspective of spiritual growth and personal evolution. Hence the implications of being in an intimate partnership go much deeper than just attaining the status of not being single or getting a tax break.
So why get into an intimate relationship in the first place? Because they can provide one of the best platforms for personal growth. Our relationships will mirror the best and the worst of us, our strengths and our limitations, our greatest joys and deepest fears. As leading thought teacher, Gregg Braden shares in his book The Divine Matrix , relationships present the clearest examples of what our beliefs are. They are our opportunity to see ourselves in every way imaginable. If we have the wisdom to recognize the messages that are being mirrored to us, we discover the beliefs that cause the suffering in our lives.
“Our true beliefs are mirrored in our most intimate relationships.”
Gregg Braden, The Divine Matrix
The key then to unlocking progressive stages of our personal evolution is to have the wisdom to recognize the messages being mirrored to us. To do this we need to learn or simply become mindful of the language that we are speaking to ourselves, through others. It is then that we can discover the beliefs that limit us and cause us suffering in order to expand our perspective and consciousness about ourselves (and life).
The people we get into relationships with are not some cosmic coincidence or chance occurrence. Every single one is a vibrational match to our state of being at the given time. We don’t need to believe in pre-incarnation planning or any kind of soul contracts. This is simply the basic workings of Universal laws, where like energy attracts like energy. You may be thinking to yourself that your partner is the complete opposite of you and that surely this does not apply in your case, but upon a deeper analysis we always find perfectly matched frequencies. An excellent example of this is the victim archetype who always seems to attract the abuser archetype. Inside, both parties are hurting and aching to be complete and loved, simply exhibiting this through the two opposite ends of the same stick. So case and point here is don’t look at the details or the surface approach, but at the deeper roots and themes. It is similar to how we translate dreams for example, where it is not about a literal approach, but about learning your personal language—the quantum language that you are using to communicate with you. Symbolism also helps us understand this point and apply it to our relationships. Are you observing in your partner a theme of addiction? infidelity? inferiority? superiority? compulsion? narrow-mindedness? etc. Examine that theme within yourself. How are you, your beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions playing out those themes, and trying to get your attention in order to be healed? Broaden your view, expand your consciousness and look at the bigger picture being presented.
Making theses connections and actively working on solving or healing them heavily dictates the quality of our relationships with others, and with ourself. It is by no means an easy choice most of the time, but the longevity of a relationship—how long you stay and when you leave—should always be consciously considered and deeply reflected on. The reasoning for this will be explained in more detail below.
The Premature Ejection
The quick or premature exit has become quite popular in our society when it comes to relationships. It is all good when times are great, full of joy and laughter. It is not hard to know what to do then. The challenge arises when things start to get challenging, or when the good times don’t seem so good anymore. This is when many individuals exercise the bolt reflex. We have all heard of the “honeymoon” period in relationships. This normally occurs at the start of relationships, where it seems that the other can do no wrong. And even if there is something we don’t seem to be in alignment with, we are riding high on a very illusory hope that somehow, someway they will change, or it won’t be such a big deal. After weeks, months and at times years however, IT does become a big deal, and expecting someone to change is usually not a reasonable request or expectation. You came here to be, do, express, experience and evolve yourself, so did the other on their own terms.
Secondly, the longer we stay in a relationship, the more of the “real” us and them also comes out. During that honeymoon phase, most people try to put their best foot forward. Yet not being real, or ourselves only goes so far and lasts so long. It is simply not sustainable and sooner, rather than later, we begin to have a new view of our partner, they of us, and the relationship. This most commonly leads to what we talked about in the paragraph above, when tensions start to become more and more common. As we relax into the relationship, we begin to operate more and more from our deep seeded beliefs, our subconscious conditioning and habitual patterns. This is where triggers become obvious and we often get into the mindset that the fault lies with the “other” person. IF only they wouldn’t say, be or do that thing, THEN our life would be better. And so we begin to consider the exit strategy, not realizing that there is almost always a bigger component here that needs our attention and work.
Regardless of how and why you chose your partner, or how long you’ve been together, every relationship provides valuable opportunities for personal healing and growth. We often neglect to realize that every relationship is more about us than the other. About what we are being, saying or doing. Whether you dated for months or been married for years, you may begin thinking that parting ways would be the best option when things seem to go out of alignment for you. You may find yourself being triggered by your partner on a regular basis. You may find a side of you surfacing more regularly that you just do not enjoy. The fun and attraction may be fizzling by the minute, however don’t be quick to throw in the towel just yet.
The consequences of leaving a relationship too early, or as we are going to word it here, before its graduation date are two-fold.
You continue repeating the same patterns over and over again—same relationship themes, and/or with the same type of person.
A quick way to know that this case applies to you is if you have ever wondered why you seem to keep attracting the same type of person. For example, the gambler, the manipulator, the abuser, the workaholic, etc. For some of us, the partners may be different, but the relationships seem to hover around the same themes. For example, infidelity, deception, compulsions, addictions, scarcity, etc.
It is valuable to examine those themes or personality types as they hold vital information for us. Our beliefs, limiting thoughts and vibration is somehow in alignment with them. Consider the following questions for yourself. What in our life needs our attention? What needs our healing, forgiveness, understanding? What childhood traumas need resolving by our adult self?
You don’t do the personal work that you have chosen for your personal evolution.
For many people the reply to this will either be that they do not know what they have chosen, or that they don’t recall making such a choice in the first place. Again here, we have to think big picture. Why did you come into this incarnation? What are the lessons or experiences your soul wishes to have? What desires to be realized or evolved? These are extremely vital questions to reflect and meditate on. Naturally, this is not the kind of stuff talked about on Dr. Phil’s relationship segment. Remember, we are going much deeper, below the surface here, beyond our simple physical perceptions.
Some who find themselves in this situation may think, so what, so I don’t do the work I was supposed to, I just want to get out of this relationship. The thing about this is that we are usually only prolonging the inevitable. This is where most people end up in one of the scenarios we talked about in number one above. You came here for a reason and you cannot avoid yourself. Ultimately, if you don’t get it done in this relationship, or even lifetime….no problem, there are many more where that came from. But we have to remember that this is not some kind of a chore or punishment or fear tactic, it is simply us trying to evolve, learn or heal something about the bigger part of us. So yes, we may deny it or try to avoid it as long as we want, but this is usually how and why our life seems to be one challenge and bout of suffering after another. It goes back to what I shared above, in that it is really not about the other person, but about US. Why are we attracting/creating/manifesting/experiencing these types of energies, and how are we going to handle them?
Now of course sometimes the termination of a relationship is not up to us. The other party can decide to do so, just as much as we can. In such cases all is not lost. We can still examine the trends and triggers of that relationship just the same and work on finding resolution and healing within ourselves. What gift or purpose did this relationship hold? How have I grown because of it? Many people in these cases get caught up in a kind of “needing of closure” scenario, but the only closure you need ever and always is with yourself. It goes along the same lines of forgiveness. We cannot demand and do not need the forgiveness of the other to have inner peace and closure. That is their journey and choice. We simply need to find our own forgiveness, self-love and compassion. In all of these cases honest, open and mindful communication goes a long way, with yourself and the other party.
The Overstayed Welcome
On the opposite end of the spectrum are relationships that have, in a sense, overstayed their welcome. We may use the analogy here that rather than being in a state of growth, they are in a state of stagnation or decay. This most commonly happens in one of three cases.
The relationship has reached a point of stagnation.
- Here both partners have settled into a state of unproductive comfort. No real growth is taking place, and the energies are quite flat. The relationship is missing its lifeline, its heart beat so to speak. One or both parties may have worked on themselves, working past triggers, or having learned to become complacent about them. There is a co-existence here that often is quite peaceful, but with a lack of vigor and expansion.
The relationship has reached a point of impasse.
- Here the parties have or have not worked on themselves, but either way came to a major point of misalignment. This most often happens when the natural course of evolution that changes us whether we try or not, has created a misalignment in some big area of the relationship. For example, two opposing work opportunities, philosophical or religious beliefs, or having children, etc. This may have always been there from the start, but been looked over due to the honeymoon period described above, or it may surface as either party changes over time.
The relationship has reached a point of destruction.
- Here one or both partners have not worked on themselves and begin to exhibit destructive qualities towards the self, the other, or the relationship. These cases most often involve some kind of abuse, whether it be verbal, psychological or physical.
The problem in all of the above described cases is that no effective action is being taken. People may complain and talk in circles about the same problems, challenges or issues, but they are not taking any real action towards any solutions. They are neither moving on from the relationship if its purpose has been fulfilled, nor are they working on themselves to change the status quo of the relationship. Change here leading to either improved conditions within the relationship, or a release of the relationship to engage in more effective and growth promoting experiences and partnerships.
The consequences of staying in a relationship past its prime (after the graduation date) mirror the consequences described in the premature ejection section above. There may be a prolonging of the inevitable and almost always a decreased quality of life due to the suffering inflicted, whether real or perceived.
In the stagnation example, some couples see nothing wrong with this and may carry on like this for the remainder of their present incarnation. Security, complacency and comfort seem to be a guiding factor in many relationships that go past the 10, 20 or more year mark. While it is each person’s choice as to how they wish to experience any of their physical incarnations, we cannot forget that life should be full of LIFE. We are natural born creators, here to experience and express the multitude of options. We are not here to just find a way to survive, but to thrive. Joy, vitality, bliss and fulfillment is a natural part of life that everyone is worthy of and can have access to. But we have to take an active role in choosing these. So while there may not be any externally perceived suffering going on here, if there is no growth, that is like a state of suffering to our inner being. Our natural state, is a state of growth and expansion.
In the impasse example, each party has made a choice in what they wish to experience or how they wish to express themselves, but the two are not in alignment with each other. These types of partnerships could be parted in beautiful ways so that each party can move on to fulfill its desires, but it takes two emotionally mature people to do so. In most cases in our society one or both parties is expecting the other to change their mind, and often moving into states of anger, guilt, frustration and disappointment that the other party is not willing to do so. Out of our personal neediness and fear, we begin to infuse destructive energies into the relationship that can take us over the edge into example three. Remember, each is here to experience and express based on the needs of their personal evolution and it is simply not fair to hold anyone back. Allowing the other to most fully express themselves (assuming it is not in distinctly destructive ways) is one of the most loving things we can do.
Finally, in the destruction example, neither the relationship, nor the parties are engaged in any kind of growth or effective expansion. Rather there is an energy of destruction rooted in anger, unworthiness, hopelessness, guilt and fear. A toxic atmosphere may have become the norm, where the relationship has lost most, if not all, of its foundation of respect, care, joy and love. While some of these relationships may have positive turnarounds given that both parties actively engage in personal work and healing, in many cases a temporary or permanent parting may be of more value.
Even though time is an illusion, from a practical perspective when we stay in relationships that are not conducive to our health, growth and development, we may in a sense be wasting our time. While there will not be one right answer for everyone, simply be mindful of how you are spending your days when it comes to the quality of the company and experiences you have. Remember, each of us deserves love, joy, harmony, inner peace and fulfillment, but no one can give these to us. We need to give them to ourselves first and foremost, and then it becomes effortless to share them with others.
When to Go, When to Stay Practical Tips
Although I have tried to simplify the challenges and solutions in this essay for the purpose of our dialogue, in truth as we all know relationships are anything but simple. There is no one size fits all answer or advice. Does it have to be this way though? Despite the dynamic complexity of relationships, I do believe it can be much simpler than we make it out to be. The game changer here is shifting from operating from the mind, to operating from the heart. Yes, this will involve courage, trust, and vulnerability. Yes, this is based on a healthy, complete and unconditional love, not conditional, needy and fear-based love. And yes, it will involve active effort on our part to look within ourselves. Again I cannot stress enough the importance of focusing on the self here and seeking solutions from the inside out, rather than focusing on the faults, limitations or shortcomings of our partners. If and when we heal ourselves, we automatically change our vibration. This in turn will make us a harmonious match for our current partner or not. If not, the choice will be self-evident as to the right or necessary steps for us to take.
Whether we leave too early or stay too long in a relationship, both states have the same foundational factor in common—suffering. Rather than living in a state of joy, harmony and inner peace, we subject ourselves to living in turmoil, dissatisfaction and frustration. Ultimately, no one can tell you when is the right time to leave a relationship, but there are many clues and signs the that Universe/Source/Your Inner Being will give you daily, if you pay attention.
A couple other things that we should mention here is that removing oneself from a relationship does not need to be permanent. Oftentimes just a time-out is needed for one or both parties to work on themselves, and then see if an alignment has been struck. Secondly, not all relationships will have a graduation date within one, or a single lifetime. While some of us will go through many partners in any given incarnation, others may have chosen one specific partnership as the main growth instigator for a particular lifetime, or lifetimes. Honor and enjoy your personal journey without comparing it to others of how it could or should be. Below I will share with you a few practical tips that you can use as part of your meditation or reflection time to help you make the best choice for you.
If you are experiencing dangerously abusive or life threatening situations in your relationship, then it is highly probable that you should remove yourself from the person, relationship or environment. The severity of the situation, emotional maturity and mental stability of both parties and other factors all need to be considered as to whether this choice will be temporary or permanent. Getting external professional help is normally essential in these cases to mediate and provide healing or therapy.
If you are operating from a state of self-sacrifice in your relationship, then it is highly probable that you should consider letting go. Self-sacrifice, no matter what the reason is a low vibration energy. To the do-er it appears that it is rooted in or done out of love, but real love requires no sacrifice. Real love is creative, joyous and uplifting. If you feel you need to or must do, whatever it is that is part of the relationship (for example, take care of children or an elderly spouse or parent) then it is in your best interest to change your perceptions regarding this experience. Can you infuse it with unconditional love and be grateful that you get to be in the presence of this/these individuals, or perhaps that you get to be of service in a meaningful way? This is vital for not just your personal state of health, inner peace and joy, but all those who are part of this experience with you. If you are going to do it, own it and learn to do it with the utmost care, pride and love. This is how we can transform ourselves and any experience anytime, benefitting from it valuable growth and expansion.
If you are experiencing yourself being triggered by your partner on a regular basis, where the relationship appears to still have both its typical highs and lows, then it is highly probable that you should consider staying. Emotional triggers are most often signs of the inner work we need to do ourselves. The other may seem like the bad person here, but a powerful transformation and healing process begins when we begin to look at why we are creating such situations for ourselves in the first place. How is the other person actually serving your soul’s agenda? You see, in our often portrayed dog eat dog world, it is all too easy to embrace the state of separation, forgetting that we are all part of the same team. Those closest to us are simply helping to facilitate the learning and growth that we are seeking. Imagine if you began to look at and approach the tense or challenging situations in your relationship from this perspective. Recall what we talked about above when it comes to the mirroring effect to see what areas within you are in need of your attention to be healed and resolved. Quantum science teaches us that the situation never resolves itself until we look inside the box. Thus it is essential not to live based on assumptions about the self or other, but to have the courage to look within in order to understand how we are giving or denying ourselves the experiences we are.
If you are feeling out of alignment with your partner (about the small and/or big stuff), but operate from a personal state of ease, and are no longer being emotionally triggered by them (most of the time, if not always), then it is highly probable that you should consider letting go. These signs usually indicate that this relationship has served its purpose on your/your partner’s journey and path of evolution. It also usually indicates that it is no longer the optimal platform for further growth and expansion. You have learned/healed/transformed what needed to be at this time. You are now your next highest version of you and require or will benefit from a similar, appropriate frequency to come into alignment with.
Ultimately, remember that nearly every challenging relationship can be greatly remedied to either improve and heal, or part ways in the most civil manner, given the right communication. So first, make time for effective dialogues. This means not being in charged environments, or while trying to take care of other things (ex: while driving, taking care of children). Pick a time and location where both of you are most likely to be at your best and most open to the dialogue. Second, commit to speaking openly, honestly and from the heart, allowing for vulnerability to surface. Use opening terms like “I have come to realize that…” and “I feel that I…”. Avoid speaking for them, or claiming to know how they feel, or what is best for them, or pointing fingers. Allow them the same opportunity to express themselves fully. Be mindful of not using manipulative language, guilt, past hurts and traumas as strategies of getting what you want. When in doubt or in a moment of friction, it helps to take a few deep, conscious breaths, or excuse yourself for a moment to re-center and simply ask “what would love do?”
I know that in our society, as shared above, it can be all too easy to get caught up in making an enemy of your partner and acting like you are fighting on opposite sides where one party will win, while the other loses. Be mindful of this, not to allow your Ego to run a muck and sabotage your solutions and resolutions. Money and material stuff will come and go, but living with a sense of joy, harmony and inner peace are priceless, and no one can take these away from you, except for you.
Finally, you may find yourself in a situation where you know you should go, but the fear of change and being alone may be overriding your inner knowing, preventing you from taking the right action for you. Here it is valuable to consider that just because we are in a relationship, does not mean that we will not feel alone. Many partners do not connect in any meaningful ways and there is a much higher degree of dissatisfaction and feelings of isolation, than if we were to be on our own. This is where again, the more we commit to doing personal work with respect to our self-love, self-image, self-worth, the more whole and complete we become. From such a state we are able to attract the highest quality of relationships, as we share our abundant, limitless self with others, multiplying each other’s love, joy and pleasure, rather than seeking to be filled or completed in some way. Frequencies like need, scarcity, and loneliness are all rooted in fear and will never provide for deep, long lasting satisfaction whether we are alone, or in a relationship.
Every relationship and its timing are rooted in divine perfection. So ultimately, whether you stay or go, there is divine purpose in that too. You really cannot get it wrong. What varies and is most within your control is simply the amount of joy or suffering that you choose to experience based on your perceptions and beliefs about yourself, the other, relationships and life in general, at any given time. Be mindful—ultra conscious—of the paradigms you are operating from. Therein you will find the most wisdom and guidance as to what needs to be done, and when.
There is a poem I had the pleasure of reading many years ago, whose words have played an integral role in my life ever since. I will leave you with those words below, in hopes that they may provide some inspirational insight for you, and your relationships as well.
Reason, Season or a Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.
When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway); and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.