Psychological insights on relationships: rejections, breakups, making relationships happy, unhealthy dynamics, and general psychology.

When Should You Stop Trying in a Relationship?

Don’t give up on your relationship until you do these four steps. Only after these steps can we say that you should stop trying to maintain your relationship.

Man and woman asking: When Should You Stop Trying in a Relationship?

You should stop trying in a relationship after you have tried everything.

So, the better question is: What is everything? What should you try to do to save the relationship?

1. Set Your Demands 

Although this may sound like a request, it should be approached more like a contractual obligation. Relationships and partnerships come with specific demands from both sides. In any relationship, each party has its own demands.

  • Take an employer and an employee, for instance. The employer demands that the work be done in a certain way and within a certain timeframe, while the employee demands a certain salary, also within a certain timeframe.

If you think about any relationship (except parents and young children), you’ll see that no relationship is without demands, except in emotional relationships where this is often enforced.

The paradigm seems to be that if we love each other, we shouldn’t set conditions for each other. This is just an emotional relationship. However, this is not the case if the relationship develops. Having no obligations or demands from your partner, no matter how excellent the idea, is utopian.

Couple in relationship

We all have expectations and, thus, obligations to meet our partner’s expectations. The difference is only in the quantity and scope of those expectations, how realistic they are, etc.

Now, suppose someone doesn’t want to meet their partner’s expectations. In that case, it’s not about whether they are fair (who can judge how fair someone’s expectations are?)

  • And to be clear, I’m talking about reasonable people and expectations. If I were talking about people who expect their accountant partner to buy them a castle, I would have to write about psychoses.

It’s not about analyzing the partner’s expectations but about the fact that the person from whom something is expected does not want to fulfill it. And then they use terms like: “You won’t give me ultimatums!” “I don’t like being pressured,” etc., to hide that they don’t want to fulfill something their partner expects from them.

The essence is that, avoiding expectations, preventing demands, not fulfilling the partner’s wishes, and communicating that the partner is unrealistic (if it’s not about buying castles and other irrational desires) serves only for manipulation.

Therefore, feel free to express your desires and demands. And ask them to fulfill them (if they are within normal limits).

Don’t fall for manipulation like: “I don’t allow anyone to give me ultimatums!”

If your partner expresses themselves like that, then it’s time to check:

Black couple in relationship

Should You stay In your Relationship?

2. Why can’t your partner fulfill your expectations?

And here, the reasons vary, but one dominates above them.

Reasons why someone can’t fulfill your expectations:

  • It’s too different from what they usually do.
    • Let’s not forget that if the partner usually does something, they consider it perfectly fine and that no changes are needed.
  • They are being contrary.
    • This is a matter of character.
  • They are getting back at you.
    • They have accumulated resistance and aversion to you, and even though they stay in the relationship, they feel the need to punish you.
  • They do something you don’t like automatically.
    • They are not aware of their automatic habits.
  • They don’t love you enough to change something in their behavior for you.
    • The changes you require demand effort from them. They’ve assessed that you are not worth that effort.
  • It’s very difficult for them to change.
    • Let’s remember something your partner does that originated long ago and has become part of them.

Each of these reasons needs to be discussed with your partner. Examine your options with the knowledge you’ve gained, how much they can give you, how you can help them, etc.

Couple in relationship on diner

This is also the right moment to consider whether you will conform to them or insist on what you want from them. Both options are valid; they require different ways of thinking. But if you wish to be with that partner, it’s worth changing/adapting yourself to them.

Now, when I said that one reason particularly stands out, I meant the last one I mentioned: it’s tough for them to change.

We are all what we are. We can change with a decision and many attempts to change ourselves, but it requires strong motivation, internal or external. Even with strong motivation, changes come very hard because our behaviors are part of us.

What you can get from a partner is a change of about 10–20% (if they are not motivated to change), so if that is enough for you, work on it and be satisfied with that. After all, now that you know how hard it is to change, you can be grateful for that 20% because you will know it was achieved with great effort.

When to fight for a relationship and when to leave it?

3. Changes Come Very Slowly

The math is actually simple. The more we work on something, the faster it goes. The less we work on it, the slower it goes.

Considering that when a partner demands changes, it’s usually about the partner’s will, not the will of the person who has to change (I really complicated that). We can say that:

  • The person who needs to change will lack motivation.
  • They can’t dedicate their whole lives to it (change).
  • They will have bad and good days.
  • They will have bad and good periods.
  • They probably don’t know all the techniques for change.
Black couple breaking up

Given all these factors, we can expect that changes will be slow and it will likely take months… but more probably years for a person to change some of their traits.

Therefore, your part of the task is to be patient with your partner’s bad days and periods and with the time it takes for the change to happen.

  • I understand that you may be impatient and that your attempt to “change your partner” has probably been going on for a long time. Still, the question is whether you had the right approach, whether they used the proper techniques, and whether you judged them (and thus sabotaged them) when they failed to change quickly. The question is also how much time you actually invested in this project.

So, if you haven’t approached the whole issue correctly, you can count on having to start over with a more patient approach.


Even though you know that changes must take a long time, you can set a deadline until you are patient with your partner. So you don’t devote your life to waiting for their change.

How Do You Know When It’s Over?

And finally, to make changes happen faster:

4. Go to joint therapy or consultations

People often need a moderator between them. But likewise, people are braver when they have someone on their side.

couples therapy

Couples I work with often seek someone to understand them and explain to the other side what bothers them. That’s why the therapist must be impartial, intelligent, and non-judgmental, with no personal reasons for giving certain advice. But also full of understanding and support.

The counselor’s job is to listen to each side carefully and explain what the first person meant to both sides. The counselor should be a good translator and help couples understand each other because it’s common for two people to “speak different languages.” One person says something, and the other translates it in their own way through the prism of their own emotions, understandings, etc.

This is exactly what the advisor is for, so there is no mistake in the translation.

Counselors also serve to give the couple good guidance and techniques on how to resolve some problematic situations.

Couples therapy

If none of these steps work after you go through them, you can say that you have done everything you could to save your relationship and that it is time to give up.

So, that’s the answer to the question of when you should stop trying in a relationship. The right moment is after these steps.

I hope this was helpful. Dee.

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