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When should you give up on someone?

Did you click on this post thinking of someone in mind?

I wrote it with two people in mind.

  1. A romantic partner I gave up on

  2. A close friend I gave up on

Both of these people are people I used to think about often, wondering if I made the right choice giving up on them. The former I gave up on after a month of dating, and the latter I gave up on after almost four years of friendship.

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In researching this question, I found a clip between Simon Sinek and Steven Bartlett talking about if you should ever give up on someone. There was a lot of good stuff put in those ten minutes, but the highlights are:

💡you can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change

✨they will have patterns of behaviour, but your pattern of trying to fix the same problem in the same way isn’t going to work

🤍“Whatever the thing is you think you’re fixing, it’s probably something entirely different”

When breaking off ties with someone, important considerations are how close you are, and how long you’ve known them. The research has been done more on romantic relationships over friendships, but I don’t think they’re so different, especially in younger years before you form a family.

**Now I want to separate giving up on someone from abusive relationships, try taking this quiz if you’re unsure if you’re being abused. Actually you don’t really need to take the quiz, if you thought you’d get a yes, please seek help here.

When it comes to the average person making mistakes and trying their best in life, there are factors that make someone more likely to change, like being younger and more open to experiences (scientific American).

How marriages fail

Within romantic relationships, there’s a Cascade Model of Relational Dissolution (also known as Gottman's Four Horsemen) which is a relational communications theory that proposes four critically negative behaviors that lead to the breakdown of marital and romantic relationships.

They are:

Horseman One: criticism

Critical comments often materialize in chained comments and are communicated in broad, absolute statements like "‘you never’" or "you always".’ Couples who are unregulated are more likely to engage in criticism. This is the first step and can often be overcome using vulnerability.

Horseman Two: defensiveness

Indicated by shifting blame and avoiding responsibility in response to criticism. Generally combatted with more criticism.

Horseman Three: contempt

Repetitive criticism in driven by lack of admiration and respect. Exhibited through mocking, sarcasm and a claim of moral superiority.

Horseman Four: stonewalling

Stonewalling is the mental and physical distance that gets created in reaction to the other three behaviours

What should you do?

Here are three other questions you can consider:

✨does the relationship give you extreme highs and lows? Toxic relationships are addictive in nature (Forbes)

✨do they actually want to change? You will know the answer to this based on how they act

✨why did you click on this article? Did you want confirmation to give up or confirmation to keep trying?

There’s limited science on the subject of when to leave someone, my experience tells me most of it comes down to intuition, and you won’t always getting it right. There is a place outside of abuse for unhappy times in long-term relationships, and perfection from anyone is unreasonable. There is also a place for duty and sticking with someone for reasons that align with your values.

If you want my honest opinion, I think our society gives up on people too easily nowadays and treats people like they are disposable. That being said, give up on anyone if you feel like you’re about to give up on you.


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