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MEN and WOMEN: Three vital signs that you must end a relationship

Relationships start with such optimism, don’t they? And then maybe things go wrong. Should you stick in there, hoping things will improve? Or leave? It can be hard to decide.

Either way, you worry that you’re making a mistake, and will be full of regret later.

All that’s quite natural. Because ending any relationship requires a lot of careful thought, even early on. But there are three signs that say you must end a new relationship.

The first’s abuse — especially physical abuse. Is that happening to you? Leave. Right. Now. Even if your partner’s remorseful, and offers to get help. At the very least, you should leave until you’re convinced there’s been real change.

Even if your partner’s only threatening physical abuse, you still need to leave. Or if your partner’s “only” being emotionally abusive.

Nothing you can do will improve the situation. It’s absolutely not your fault, despite what your partner might be telling you.

And if you stay you could get very badly hurt — physically or psychologically.

CONFLICT

The next don’t-think-twice reason to leave is if your partner has one of the “dramatic, emotional or erratic” personality disorders.

People with these disorders very rarely seek help, and instead blame everyone around them for their behaviour.

They’ll idealise you one minute and criticise you the next. They’re impulsive and lack empathy, manipulate and take advantage of you, and disregard your rights.

How do you know you’re with someone who has a personality disorder? You’re constantly walking on eggshells to avoid setting off a conflict.

The whole relationship feels weird. And you’re probably convinced it’s all your fault.

It isn’t. And trying to make the relationship work can be incredibly self-destructive. Just leave.

You also need to leave if your partner’s an alcoholic, or addicted to anything else that’s causing them or you harm, such as drugs or gambling. Especially if they’re denying their addiction or refusing help for it.

PERSONALITY DISORDER

Addictions can be overcome, but doing that takes a serious amount of work. And so even if your partner’s willing to tackle their problem, it might not be the right time for you to be in a relationship with them.

There are many other reasons why relationships end, of course, such as infidelity, neglect, and all sorts of flaky behaviour.

Mostly couples discuss things like these for quite some time before they finally admit defeat. But abuse, personality disorders and addictions are simply non-negotiable.

It will still be hard to make the decision. You’re perhaps feeling confused. Or afraid of being alone. Or wonder whether things are really that serious. That’s because being the victim of these behaviours makes you indecisive and confused.

So if you have any doubts at all, go and see an experienced counsellor. They’ve seen these situations thousands of times before, and will recognise the signs in minutes.

And very quickly you’ll have the answers to your questions — and will know what to do.