• Joanna Pudil, LCSW-R

Ending Tough Relationships

Sometimes it’s called throwing in the towel or pulling the plug. Whatever you want to call it, ending something is a hard task.


My son was asked to attend a meeting today at his camp job to be informed that he wasn’t doing his job in a “professional manner”. This wasn’t the first time it has happened this summer. As he puts it “I’m a dopey 15-year-old, what do they expect?" However, the meeting today had a greater affect on him. He knew this job wasn’t the right fit, but he was still trying his hardest. Today, he was unable to bounce back from the latest feedback. It probably didn’t help that one adult staff member was talking bad about him behind his back and the communication had been poor all summer long, coupled with younger children which are not his forte. He now just felt awful about himself. He realized that this job that paid $7.50 an hour was taking an emotional toll on his mental health. Thank goodness his older brother was home to listen to him and put him back together again.


By the time I got home, they both had decided that Tucker needed to quit his summer job even though there were only 4 days left. I trusted their judgment and the three of us sat together around Tucker’s computer crafting a letter of resignation. This was hard as a parent. I wanted him to stick it out for the four days and then have a sense of accomplishment. His older brother was the voice of reality and pointed out that his mental health would take a greater toll to just get to the finish line. It’s really hard to know when to say “I’ve had enough” and I need to end this.


As a therapist I see this conundrum happen more often in relationships. Even though it is obvious that the relationship isn’t working, we stick in it longer than we should. There are so many reasons to stay, like children, finances, scared of being single again, concern for what family members and friends might think, scared to be alone. The list goes on and on. A big reason we get stuck is for fear of being seen and feeling like a failure. I don’t know how my older son did it, but he was able to let his younger brother know that he did his best and his mental health was more important than the job. He wasn’t a failure, he was just taking care of himself and his mental health. This was such an important life lesson. I wish someone would have taught me this lesson early on.


Talking about the situation in therapy or with a trusted person we can identify the reason we are suffering and why we feel that we can’t leave. By talking about the situation the fears and concerns can be resolved to possibly find a healthy solution. If you are in one of these tough situations where you feel like you need to end it, but can’t, please reach out. I’m here for you.