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5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Someone Leaves You Disappointed

Most people have heard the saying, "to err is human, to forgive divine." While admirable, this mindset isn't always appropriate in toxic relationships involving selfish people. If a friend, family member or romantic partner has repeatedly let you down, learn how to determine if it's time to move on.

Taking an Honest Assessment

In certain instances, it's clear a relationship needs to end or, at bare minimum, change. It may be an abusive partner or a neglectful friend. It might be a family member that constantly borrows money without repaying it or a coworker that consistently puts you in a bind. Whatever the case, if someone is compromising your well-being or regularly putting their needs before yours, you should make a conscious choice to alter or end the relationship.

Unfortunately, it's not always easy for people to make clear assessments in regard to valued relationships. What's more, some people are prone to ending relationships due to pride, attachment fears and other mental issues related to childhood experiences. If you're having a hard time deciding how to proceed after a conflict or disappointment, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you really understand the situation?

Many psychological principles leave us vulnerable to distortion when interpreting the behavior of others. For instance, fundamental attribution error leads us to link the negative or inappropriate behavior of other people with character flaws. On the other hand, we're quick to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt in similar situations. Ask yourself if this is happening now. Are you judging when you should be empathizing?

Is there a reason for empathy?

Perhaps the person has made a terrible mistake that indeed reflects on his or her character. Ask yourself if specific factors could be catalysts for this behavior. Have they struggled with personal loss, money problems, health issues, depression or extreme stress? Might you exhibit similar behaviors if similar problems combine to weaken your resolve? Examine potential nuances that might be at play before making a rash decision.

Are you being fair?

Every human is plagued by the occasional hypocritical viewpoint. Ask yourself if you've done similar things at certain times in your life. Perhaps you've blocked these out to preserve your self-image. For instance, many people who have driven while intoxicated without event are very judgmental of drunk drivers involved in accidents. Try to refrain from black-and-white thinking, especially if the person's mistake appears to be an anomaly.

Are they willing to make things right?

Many people are willing to forgive immediately in return for an outright apology or some other form of validation. Try explaining why you feel hurt by the person's action and give him or her a fair opportunity to acknowledgment responsibility. Be prepared to consider the other person's point of view and have realistic standards when considering whether to forgive.

Is it likely to occur again?

Some people have no problem apologizing for their actions without meaning what they say. Realize that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior. If this person makes a habit out of letting you down, don't be surprised when it keeps happening. Take steps to protect yourself and your interests. Perhaps your time will be better spent developing new relationships with people who share your values.

When to Turn Away

It can be very difficult for people to end relationships with close friends and loved ones who suffer from addictions and mental health problems that promote negative behavior. If the person means the world to you, it's fine to offer help. That said, when we allow others to take advantage of our kindness, we actually hurt them by enabling their behaviors to continue.

If drugs, alcohol or mental illness appear to be causing or contributing to the person's behavior, let him or her know you are available to help, while setting clear boundaries and expectations for behavior. You may also want to speak to a professional, especially if the relationship involves a close member of your family.