We all know that relationships are complicated. A whole range of often contradictory emotions are at play, and it can sometimes be hard to be sure of what we want. Even when our relationship is unhappy, it’s not as simple as breaking it off and moving on to pastures new – other factors often need to be considered.
This is especially true for parents. Research from Direct Line shows that many parents who are in unhappy relationships end up staying together for the sake of their children – for an average of over 5 years longer than they would have otherwise, in fact. Protecting the family unit is, understandably, a key consideration for many couples throughout their time together. Although they may not be entirely happy in their relationship, they decide to keep going so that their children can have two parents at home (in the Direct Line study, 36% of parents gave this as their reason).
But what happens once the children have flown the nest? What’s the next step? You may be thinking it’s too late to look for new romance, and decide to settle for what’s familiar instead – even if it’s still making you unhappy. But there is another way. Read on to find out why it’s never too late to move on from an unhappy relationship.
Take some time apart
First of all, it needs to be acknowledged that separating from a partner you’ve been with for years is always a big decision. It could be helpful to take some time to yourself, away from your partner, to dip your toe into this new life and decide if it’s what you want. A range of emotions are sure to be involved, but you should soon be able to tell if you’ve made the right choice. Time to yourself is crucial; allowing your mind to rest and calmly consider the future that lies ahead. It could be that you want to stay with your partner after all, or that you want to explore relationship counselling first. Or it could be that you’ve decided that moving on would be the best step forward for both of you.
Sometimes, of course, breaking-up is simply the only option – according to the ONS, unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason for divorce in 2018.
After years of being together, it can be difficult to separate your identity from that of your partner. You’ve shared so much of your life together, for so many years, and so this isn’t surprising. Going it alone after so many years can be scary at first, but it can also be incredibly freeing. You’ll be able to reconnect with your own, individual identity – rediscovering exactly who you are, and exactly what you want from the world.
Life is short
It’s a cliche, but it’s true. Life is too short to spend with someone who doesn’t make you happy. It can be scary to branch out into the unknown, but the world has so much to offer – if you never go looking, you’ll never know what you might find out there. This is the time to tick-off that bucket list that may have been gathering dust. Maybe, due to the inevitable compromises that come with being in a relationship, you were never able to visit a certain country that you always wanted to, or take part in a certain activity. It’s never too late for adventure, and now’s the time to grab it with both hands.
Don’t rush into a new relationship
Although it might be tempting, you shouldn’t rush into a relationship with someone else too quickly. Enjoy your independence for a while first, and think deeply about what it is you’re looking for in a new partner – if you are looking for a new partner at all, of course.
By taking some time to reflect, and by developing and re-discovering your own identity, you’ll be in a stronger position heading into any new romance. With the experience of your last relationship as a guide, as well as the self-confidence you will have developed from your newfound independence, you’ll be able to make sure the next relationship is the right fit for you.
But if and when you are ready to move on, finding a new partner that you really connect with has never been easier. Here at Bowes-Lyon Partnership, we can help you to meet other like-minded, accomplished professionals. You can contact us to find out more about how we can help with this new step in your life.
Jessica Kelly is a freelance writer based in the UK, writing on a range of subjects including lifestyle, small business, and transport. When she’s not writing she can be found curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.