Women of colour with head on her kneesHere are 5 excuses to stop making for staying together when it’s time to call it quits.

“I would end it, but we have a vacation booked,” my dear friend tells me over drinks. I nod, recalling a past relationship that I stayed in too long because of a death in her family. Here are 5 excuses keeping you in an unhappy relationship.

1. We can’t afford it.

After staying in a committed relationship for about a year too long because of finances, I learned that there are all kinds of costs in life besides money. My health, ability to sleep, and being present in my own life suffered when I stayed in a toxic relationship. Make no mistake, there is a price to pay for staying when the relationship is over. The choice then becomes: Is the cost worth it?

2. We share a mortgage/lease.

It may be a logistical pain in the neck to end a relationship after signing a lease or buying a home. And the truth is, untangling your lives takes a while. But if a shared home is the only reason you’re staying together, chances are the feeling in that space is anything but homey. I dreaded going home in one relationship, John Meyer playing in my head constantly, “….Four more exits to my apartment and I am tempted to keep the car in drive. And leave it all behind”. When our lives are out of line with the truth of who we are, happiness is hard to come by.

3. We share a dog/cat.

As lesbians, we take our homo civic duty to own a furry friend (rescued, no doubt) very seriously. They are like our children. It makes sense, then, that we justify staying together in order to keep the family together. After all, who wants to share custody of the dog? In the end, someone always keeps it and someone never sees it again. In my experience, the pain of missing an animal takes less of a toll on our well-being than ignoring our own intuition and needs.

4. We have a vacation planned.

This excuse is usually either about money or the fantasy that the trip will re-ignite your relationship. If you’ve ever actually vacationed with a partner when your relationship is spiralling out of control then you know that there is no quantity of money that is worth travelling to another place when you’re relationship is falling apart. Fantasies are just our imagination on sentimental crack. Real change happens most often in small moments in relationships – a bid for connection, an apology, or a moment of vulnerability.

5. We have invested so much time.

There is an economic idea called the sunk cost fallacy that explains the human tendency, when realizing that investment is losing money, to refuse to back out of it solely because so much has already been invested. It’s easy to slip into this same mindset in relationships. In my experience, once I ask myself, I have given it x years, how can I walk away now, it’s time to reevaluate the health of the relationship.

The holidays can make acknowledging that the relationship we’re in isn’t the right one for us complicated. Postponing a break-up just keeps us unhappy, and no one wins in that model. What excuses have you made to stay in unhappy relationships? Please share your experience and write a comment below.