On Sunday, Abby answered a short question with a nearly-as-short answer:
DEAR ABBY: I have a short question I need an answer to. How do we know when it’s time to end a relationship and move on? — KIKI IN TEXAS
DEAR KIKI: The short answer is when it brings you more pain than pleasure. The longer answer is, when you make a list of the pros and cons in the relationship, and the cons outnumber the pros.
Hmmm….I think both have their merits, but I disagree that they’re interchangeable, or that one is the logical extension of the other. On the contrary, they’ll each work as a litmus test for different kinds of people:
For example, if there’s a troublesome relationship you keep talking yourself into, or a person for whom you keep making excuses, putting each “con” (or pro!) down in black and white may help you see things as they really are.
On the other hand, if you’re prone to over-thinking–that is, if you’re an analytical, pros and cons type person–I think the taking a wider view can help you chill out: am I happy? Is s/he? Am I growing in a good way? Is s/he? Then OK. Stop itemizing, already. (You may not be surprised to learn that this is the camp where I feel most at home….)
In short, if your typical mindset and way of thinking hasn’t helped you figure out whether or not it’s time to cut and run, a different approach might. This is one case where doing what comes most naturally might get you nowhere, because that’s probably what you’ve been doing all along–so it seems especially important to recognize the differences between the two approaches.