Since the pandemic began, the time we have available for reflection and clarity has increased. Our lives have slowed down as quarantine has continued, allowing for a mental declutter. In this time of stillness, we’re able to reflect on our lives and examine the paths we’re on.
Self-reflection may seem like a good thing, and it is, but it can be difficult to go from being constantly busy to a halting stop. Gaining clarity like this so suddenly can seem overwhelming. How do we reflect on and process what we’re experiencing, especially in terms of our relationships?
Some relationships have been challenged under the intense scrutiny of being together in close quarters day in and day out. It’s important to take the time to reflect on your relationships and how they’re working for you right now. Maybe you’ve started wondering if you have relationships in your life that aren’t working anymore, but how do you know for sure?
In this week’s episode of the On Purpose podcast, Jay Shetty shares how you can know if you have relationships that you need to let go of and gives you tips for ending them gracefully.
Seven Signs You Need To Let Go Of A Relationship
“I'm giving you the signs that are sometimes more subtle,” said Jay Shetty.
Signs you need to let go of a relationship aren’t always obvious. They may linger in the background, not unlike some relationships that hover in the background of your life but don’t seem to serve a purpose or benefit.
Solidifying whether you should have these people in your lives is important. It’s important to know where people fit into your life so you can set up the right priorities. Staying stuck in a relationship too long can be damaging for both parties.
We’ve all had to end a relationship with a friend or a partner, and the old saying about hindsight being 20/20 is true. When you let an unhealthy relationship go on too long, you wonder how you let it last so long. You don’t fully see all the signs until after it’s over.
Despite our best intentions to avoid hurting someone, sometimes prolonging the relationship only allows time for more drama. When you start recognizing the signs, the sooner you end it, the more likely it’ll end on more positive terms. Here are seven tell-tale signs that it’s time to end a relationship.
Sign #1: You No Longer Look Forward To Seeing Them
The first sign you should end a relationship is a prominent one. If you realize you aren’t looking forward to seeing someone or you’re ignoring their calls and messages because you feel anxious about having to talk to them, you should break it off.
Ask yourself why you’re ignoring their calls and don’t want to see them. It’s difficult to answer these questions yourself, but if you’re reaching out to others more than this person, it’s a sign that you’re already moving on.
Sign #2: Being Around This Person Is Draining
Do you find yourself feeling drained whenever you’re around a particular person? Are you avoiding being around them because it’s just too much to handle? If spending time with someone always leaves you feeling drained, exhausted, and negative, don’t ignore it.
Sometimes it’s difficult to come to terms with accepting that a relationship needs to end. Jay Shetty encourages viewers to remember that ending a relationship is not necessarily a bad thing.
“Let me say it this way,” said Jay Shetty, “if someone is not good for you, that doesn’t mean that they’re not a good person.”
Sign #3: You Have Different Expectations
Jay Shetty’s third sign of a relationship you need to let go of is a difference in expectations. Expectations can be one of the most challenging hurdles in relationships. If two people’s expectations differ too widely, sometimes it’s best to end the relationship so you can invest time in relationships that are a better fit.
People change. People grow. Sometimes that can throw a wrench in a friendship. Jay Shetty explains it like this:
“Maybe you’ve had a friendship end and it went something like, ‘You’ve changed, and we don’t talk much anymore,’” said Jay Shetty. “The relationship ends, but that doesn’t mean you’re truly a different person. Their expectation of you has stayed the same while your expectation has changed. That's what they're actually saying.”
When you aren’t on the same page as someone else and your expectations for each other aren’t talked about or understood, it’s not going to work itself out. If you’re unable to come to an understanding with someone on what your expectations are for them and what their expectations are for you, that’s a sign to end the relationship.
Sign #4: They’re Always Critical Of You
Don’t stay in a relationship with someone who is always critical of you.
“We’ve all had people like this in our lives,” said Jay Shetty. “They comment negatively about us to our faces and behind our backs to other people. That’s something you shouldn’t have to deal with.”
There’s a difference, however, when the criticism is constructive. If you have a relationship with a coach or mentor, their constructive coaching and encouragement is a great thing to have. However, being exposed to constant unprompted, critical comments that aren’t constructive, isn’t good for your self-image or self-worth. That’s a relationship to let go of.
Sign #5: You Experience Fear In The Relationship
Do you have a person in your life that you find yourself extra anxious and worried around? Sometimes you avoid calling or meeting with people out of the fear of how they’ll respond to you. Their reactions are intimidating, and you’re always worried you’ll say something that upsets or irritates them.
Jay Shetty calls this a fear-based relationship, and it’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship that you may need to leave behind. A relationship built on fear only grows stress and anxiety in your life. When you get to the point of feeling scared of the other person because of how they might react, the relationship isn’t working anymore.
“That relationship [has] already gone to a point where you don't understand each other,” said Jay Shetty. At that point, it’s time to walk away.
Sign #6: The Relationship Is Built On Obligation
Sometimes we feel obligated to invite or spend time with someone. We tell ourselves we’re being polite, that it’s the nice thing to do … but is it really? Who is it being nice to? Not you!
A relationship built on obligation only makes you feel uncomfortable. Because you and this person haven’t defined the expectation in the relationship. Kindness is important, but forcing yourself to spend time with someone you don’t enjoy in the least is difficult and painful.
Let this relationship go. Letting go will not only free you from a relationship you don’t enjoy, but it will also free them to find others who enjoy their company more.
Sign #7: They’re Not The Person You Tell Good News To
The final sign from Jay Shetty that you should move on from a relationship is if you don’t think of them when you’ve got good news. At one point in time, you instantly thought of them and wanted to share with them. Today, that has changed. It can be hard to understand and come to terms with when the person who was your go-to isn’t anymore.
This doesn’t diminish the relationship you had; it just puts the relationship you have today in a different place, and different can be good.
Six Steps To Break Off Broken Relationships
Those are the seven signs that indicate a relationship is no longer a good fit. The first step is identifying when this occurs. But where do you go from here? How can you end the relationship? Keep reading for Jay Shetty’s 6 steps for breaking off broken relationships.
Step #1: Talk With Friends
Jay Shetty’s first step to breaking off a broken relationship is to talk with a few close friends about it. Don’t go out and tell everyone that you’re cutting such and such a person out of your life because they’re toxic and they’re a bad person. Even if it is true now, it wasn’t always like that, and you wouldn’t want them to say similar things about you.
Have an intimate conversation about what’s going on with a couple really close friends who will be honest with you about the situation. It’ll help you reset your mind and see the situation for what it is.
Step #2: Reflect Positively On What You Gained
The second step to letting go is to reflect back on that relationship and realize what you gained and learned from it.
“No matter how much you think you lost, no matter how hurtful it was, no matter how much pain you feel, you want to take those lessons forward,” said Jay Shetty. The lessons you learn can help you in the future.
Hold on to what that person taught or gave you, whether it be a connection, a good piece of advice, or something entirely different. In this way, you honor that person and what they did for you. It does no one any good to ignore the things they did that had value.
Step #3: Reflect On What You’ve Lost
When you end a relationship, no matter how unhealthy it was, you lose something. Jay Shetty’s third step in ending a relationship is to allow yourself to reflect on what you feel you’ve lost.
It’s easy to sink into feeling insignificant or just plain physically and emotionally drained. That’s normal and part of the process. Reflecting on what you’ve lost can help you grieve, then move on. Understanding what you’ve lost by being in a particular relationship will help you see why you’re choosing to end it with this person.
Step #4: Own Your Shortcomings
Jay Shetty’s fourth step to letting go of a relationship is to figure out what your own shortcomings were in the relationship and acknowledge them. Every relationship involves two people. You know what they did that is causing you to put an end to things, but what do you contribute to the breakdown of the relationship? What mistakes did you make?
Could you have improved on your communication with them, made your expectations more known, or been more patient? Dig deep – the first step to learning from mistakes is understanding you made some so you can avoid them in the future.
Step #5: Give Yourself A Deadline To End It
The fifth step to ending a relationship with someone is to make a deadline.
“If you don't set a deadline, you're never gonna have that difficult conversation,” said Jay Shetty. Set a deadline. Make sure you’re giving yourself the time to reflect on the situation and be calm enough to have the conversation. If you don’t set a deadline, it becomes too easy to push back the inevitable, keeping both of you in limbo.
Step #6: Script Out The Conversation
Finally, Jay Shetty’s last step to ending an unhealthy relationship is to script out the conversation. Don’t give yourself an out that you didn’t know what to say. Write out what you want to say, record yourself saying it, and go over it.
As you listen to or read back what you said, think about how you would feel if someone was saying that to you. By asking yourself things like, “Would I be able to digest that?” or, “Would I be okay if someone said that to me?” you’ll gain some clarity on what you’re expressing to this person. You may find some things that you wrote that don’t need to be said, or realize a few things you should say.
Things seldom go according to plan, however, and this situation is no different. The conversation will go off script, but that’s okay. It’s enough to know what you want to express. If the discussion gets off track, you’ll be able to get back on track quickly. Most of all, have the conversation with compassion and love, and leave it on as good of terms as possible.
“You will never regret a conversation or a relationship where you lead with love, where you converse with compassion and where you really connected with empathy,” said Jay Shetty.
Right now is a good time for us all to seek to gain clarity on our relationships. Jay Shetty’s 7 signs give us a clear roadmap to determining if it’s time to let go. Breaking off relationships is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary for our mental health and well-being.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Let Go of a Relationship: 7 Signs You Need to Let Go of a Relationship & 6 Steps to Break it Off” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.