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"I've f***ed up every relationship I've been in. So here's my advice for when to stay and when to go."

Divorce, separation, leaving the love of your life that you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with…

It’s not the way things were supposed to turn out, is it?

You were supposed to stay together, happily, work through the issues that arose and if you couldn’t, at the very least have an amicable separation.

But things change. And the hardest part of that is knowing what to do.

Someone cheats or someone starts controlling the money or someone puts their extended family and friends before their significant other and children, or becomes emotionally or physically abusive, parenting styles become too different, work loads become grossly unbalanced and so on and so on.

Before you know it, the relationship goes from being 90 per cent happy to 90 per cent “If I have to listen to you breathe one more time I’m going to self combust.”

So when do you walk away?

I’m not promoting divorce.

I’ve seen it first hand, how it works to leave and when it works to stay. Most of us have that feeling in the back of our minds, and know it’s not working long before it officially ends. We just suppress it because facing it would mean confronting this big scary world all by ourselves, and frankly, humans aren’t into change. We avoid change like the plague. Even though deep down we know that change and growth come hand in hand, a lot of us like the miserable little bubble we live in.

After all, without it, what on earth would we blame our unhappiness on? It can’t possibly be our own fault?

Watch: Constance Hall speaks to Mia Freedman on No Filter. Post continues after video.

Asking yourself whether to leave is one of the hardest questions you’ll ever ask yourself and there is no easy answer. But here are some things to consider, to help you understand when you should and when you shouldn’t walk away. Take it with a grain of salt, of course. I have f*cked up every relationship I’ve ever been in, but you know the old saying: “Those who can’t do…. Teach.”

Leave…

– If only one person is prepared to do the work (and it is work). If the person you love the most in the world is asking you to go to counselling and you or your partner is refusing – that’s just not good enough.

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It takes two people to want to make it work. You’ll never change someone else if they won’t change themselves, and if you end up in therapy on your own to deal with your relationship problems, chances are you are about to outgrow your partner and before you know it you’ll be finding yourself less and less interested.

– If there’s repeated disloyalty. Everyone’s relationship gets one chance, especially if you got together young. One fuck up – that’s resolvable. But in saying resolvable, I mean, your love is a mountain that takes one night to slide down and years and years to climb back up. Not everyone wants to do that, so walking away after one incident is reasonable as f*ck if you ask me. But any more then one f*ck up, anymore then one slide down the mountain, and you’ll find yourself too exhausted to climb back up. And at the end of the day, why should you? When you aren’t the one who slid down the f*cking thing in the first place?

When someone cheats they have been tempted into breaking the person they love for temporary satisfaction. Anybody who could do it again after seeing how much it hurts you doesn’t really love you. They are using you for security.

– If the sex is gone. This is a funny one, because you also can’t mistake good sex with love. I think everyone needs good sex but I also think it ebs and flows. You can bring it back with some hard work, and some intimate moments – just lying down looking into each other’s eyes naked can be enough intimacy. I believe sex is worth working on, but I don’t think a dead sex life is reason alone to end the relationship.

Ultimately, learn the difference between holding on to crumbs of love that are thrown your way, and real love. Real love is consistent, kind, and isn’t a promise of a holiday in the following year and then two weeks of silent treatment because you “pissed off the King”.

Anybody who allows you to work twice as much as they do, including child rearing responsibilities, doesn’t respect you. Unless they have an IQ of 3, it’s pretty f*cking obvious when you are working around the clock and your partner is doing 8 hour days and still believes he deserves a sleep in on the weekends.

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At the same time, it’s worth considering that your relationship might just have too much pressure on it. We rely on our significant others for everything. They have to be our parents and friends and confidants and business partners. Women don’t have a village anymore, no parents that move in when the baby is born or friends that come over and chat to us all day. So by the time our partners walk through the door, we want them to be our everything: take the kids so we can go on a girls night, listen to us, clean with us, have great sex with us. They want us to understand them, how tired they are, let them go and play football or drink at the pub.

Recognise the difference and get help and get support – friends or family or even a neighbour that shares the school run with you and chats with you in the evenings. If it’s just pressure that’s making you hate the man you once loved, all will be OK. If it’s more than that, you’ll soon realise when you have the help and suddenly don’t want to come home anymore.

The biggest mistake people make in separation is “staying for the kids”. Separation is so common these days it’s almost common for the kids to go to school and be the odd one out for only having one home because her parents are still together. You don’t stay in a loveless relationship for the kids – you leave for them.

But the best advice that my therapist gave me when my currant relationship started to suffer was this:

Anything is resolvable if you or they can own it. If you can look someone in the eyes, or they can look you in the eyes, and say, “I fucked up, I didn’t mean to hurt you” – you stand a chance. It’s the, “Well I only did that because you were f*cking hassling me all day” types of conversations that point in the direction of two people on a road to nowhere.

Finally it cannot go unmentioned that leaving a violent relationship is the most dangerous time to be in one. Pick your times carefully and never ever judge yourself for not leaving any sooner. Your safety is the most important thing.

Divorce rates are on the decline because marriage is on the decline, because we are all waking up to the fact that not one shoe fits all, or one shoe fit last week and now it doesn’t. Or one shoe used to be white and then a baby shat on the floor in the kitchen and a certain partner just walked passed pretending they didn’t see it, so that shoe stepped in the shit and decided, “f*ck that, I’m growing a pair of legs and walking out the f*cking door myself”.

For more from Constance Hall, you can follow her on FacebookInstagram, or her website. You can buy her new book about Divorce, Happily Ever… F**k That, here.

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