HOW LONG IS ENOUGH? 10 warning signs to help you decide if it’s time to move on.

Commitment: “A promise to do or give something; a promise to be loyal to someone or something; the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)  And most, if not all, commitments involve some sort of relationship – with another person, a business, a political party or even with a part of yourself.


We make many commitments throughout our lives. Business/professional obligations, friendships, intimate relationships, leases, debts, appearance at family events, a promise to self to think or behave in a specific way, and even those as minor as regular hair care appointments or using the same cleaners for years ….. these are just a few examples of the many small and large obligations we may feel obligated to continue – even if they no longer work for us.

Life gives us lots of messages about our various relationships – if only we’d pay attention! But for those who think a commitment means you must stick it out, be responsible, do it “right” (whatever that means!), paying attention to the miscues isn’t so simple. After all, it’s not totally bad. And some of it can feel really good!

If you’ve been feeling trapped in a commitment, if you can’t figure out if you need to get out….. keep reading for some warning signs that might help you decide if this is the right time to make some changes. Start noticing, when you’re in commitment mode and…… 

  1. You’ve been experiencing unusual physical symptoms without a diagnosed cause.
  2. Your sleep is disturbed – too much or too little.
  3. You’re tired much of the time – and even more so, when faced with that commitment.
  4. What used to give you pleasure now seems like a drag.
  5. Tasks you used to do early and easily have become last-minute and more difficult.
  6. This relationship feels one-sided; you’re feeling unappreciated.
  7. You realized you’re working harder than others, with less reward.
  8. You’re more irritated than usual at those “dumb” things others do.
  9. You’ve asked for help – or think you have – and no one seems to notice.
  10. You’ve been thinking of leaving, but feel responsible for what might happen when you go.

If only one of these warning signs ring a bell with you, that could be an early warning. If more than one produces an “oh yes!” moment for you, your immediate and detailed attention is needed! Ignoring them will only generate more stress and more of a trapped feeling. And more items to add to your list.

So what to do next? Too many of us wait until we reach 5 or more of these warning signs before addressing the issue at hand. So it pays to develop an early strategy for taking care of yourself, before you feel like running in the other direction as fast as possible!

First, you’ll need to decide if leaving right now is practical, fits the situation, and gets your needs met. If it’s a job on the line, you’ll probably need to look for another, before leaving the first. An abusive relationship might be sending “get out now!” signals. The small commitments, like to the cleaners who aren’t doing as good a job as they used to – those require a different mind-set and strategy for some folks.

Since this post isn’t meant to serve as a “how-to,” once you’ve decided (for now, at least) whether you’re staying or going, your  next step is to figure out how to carry out your decision. Addressing the glitches in any relationship isn’t easy. And the “rules” for different kinds of relationships differ significantly. But whether you’re deciding to stay in or end a business or personal relationship, you’ll still be best off if you can figure out why you’re experiencing so many warning signs. Is it you? Or are you facing a dysfunctional system? Or a combination of both?

If you find you’re having some difficulty making a decision or if you’ve decided, but just don’t know what to do next – and on your own isn’t working, you might want to consider reaching out for a little more support. Counseling can help you understand why things have gone so wrong – and can help you with those decisions that just seem way too hard to make by yourself.

I offer short term therapeutic coaching or more in-depth counseling, depending on your situation and needs. I invite you to give me a call (310 475-1759), if you’d like more information, have some questions, would like to give me some feedback or want to schedule an appointment. Limited phone consultation sessions  are available, when appropriate, for those not living in the Los Angeles/Beverly Hills area.