THE BLOG
02/15/2016 04:56 pm ET | Updated Feb 15, 2017

Is It Time to Leave Your Relationship?

Blend Images - Jose Luis Pelaez Inc via Getty Images

The following is an excerpt from my newest book, The Karma Queens' Guide to Relationships:

I'm a firm believer in making things work. I was married for nearly 30 years and endured the turbulence that all relationships experience in time. Divorce is always a valid option, but many times, people jump straight to it too quickly. This is not to say that if you've divorced you've done anything wrong--absolutely not! But even if you are divorced now, maybe you want to discover new ways of keeping the love alive next time you find a great partner for you. And if you are currently in a relationship, do what you can to improve it. Don't abandon ship because you think it'll be easier; whatever issues you're experiencing now will likely present themselves in your next romance. Listen to your instincts and be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. It is the only way to ensure that you will make the right choice about a relationship.

The reasons for the fading of love are many, and can vary. Maybe one partner changes over time, someone's needs change, the couple shares a loss they can't fully recover from, or a third person interferes in the relationship. Relationships all hit trouble spots, and it can be tricky to determine whether they can be saved. Many people feel they've already done everything in their power to make their relationship work, but to no avail. The circumstances aren't improving and their partner just isn't reciprocating their efforts. If you find yourself in this scenario, you must make a decision that's reflects your best interests. Is it time to leave your relationship? Consider for a moment the following list of words that describe a relationship still infused with love:
1. Excitement
2. Laughter
3. Energy
4. Willful sacrifice
5. Nurture

Are you excited when your partner walks through the door? Do you actually look forward to seeing this person at the end of the day? Do you laugh together and have energy for each other? Would you gladly sacrifice for the one you love? Do you enjoy nurturing and caring for your partner?

Now take a look at this list. Do these words resonate more for you when you think about your relationship?
1. Blame
2. Judgment
3. Tired
4. Careless
5. Irritated

Do you blame your partner for things he or she has done wrong, or do you judge your partner for making decisions you feel are wrong? Do you feel emotionally, mentally, or physically drained around this person? Are you careless about your partner's needs, and prefer it if your partner just does everything alone, without your help or cooperation? Do your partner's mannerisms and habits irritate you much or all of the time?

Once you determine your own emotional standing, you can go on to evaluating your partner's, too. Ideally, you two will always be on the same page, whether both of you are in or out of love. If one of you is more in love than the other is, or if one of you is more loving and giving than the other, take action to make it right.

That said, if the second set of words defines your relationship much more than the first set, it's a clear indication that the relationship may need to end. Your saving grace lies in developing a keen sense of when to be self-protective and exit a relationship that's turned toxic. You always have the choice to resolve your karma on your end without the other person around. Knowing when to hold on in the hopes of improving the relationship and when to walk away from the entire situation can be tricky, but there are a six signs that it's definitely time to let go:

Sign number 1. Your intuition is nagging you to leave; you just feel it's wrong. Your gut knows; are you listening?

Sign number 2. You're being made to do things that make you very uncomfortable, favors and errands that the person should be doing for himself or herself. You find yourself doing things that you know are wrong in nature, things that can be detrimental to you or get you in trouble.

Sign number 3. You're being taken advantage of and it's become obvious (the other person is asking for money or borrowing your belongings). There's nothing wrong with helping out a person you love, but when you're afraid not to--and this has happened before, or you see no signs of them getting on their feet again even after you rescue them--slow down. Think hard about how this is hurting your own well-being.

Sign number 4. Your energy is low; you feel exhausted and emotionally weak. If you find yourself dreading and avoiding someone whose company you once much enjoyed, pay attention. Relationships should uplift your spirits, not make you feel as if your life force is being drained.

Sign number 5. You associate strong anxiety, fear, and worry with the relationship. Perhaps you panic when the person isn't with you or constantly worry that something will go wrong (like that they'll cheat). When a relationship is marked by these emotions, it is not healthy for you.

Sign number 6. Your own progress and personal efforts are being hindered by the other person. Maybe you are doing so much for them that you have no time to attend to yourself. You find yourself setting aside your own goals and desires to tend to their most basic needs.

Because we hold so much free will in our relationships, there are no "right" choices, but there certainly are good and bad ones. Know that a relationship should nourish you. If it hasn't done that for a very long time, and your hard work on yourself and your relationship isn't producing the joy and fulfillment you deserve, then it's time to consider whether you are ready to move on and begin a new chapter of your life.

To knowing when to stay and when to go,
Dr. Carmen Harra

To find out about The Karma Queens' Guide to Relationships, click here.

To visit Dr. Carmen Harra's website, click here.

To connect with Dr. Carmen Harra on Facebook, click here.

For more by Dr. Carmen Harra, click here.