If You’re Feeling Sick About A Relationship…

(I took this photo in Prospect Park.)

To any of our dear readers who are dating –

I’m guessing that most of you have or will at some point be in a relationship that just makes you feel unsettled. But let’s throw this in there to make things tricky…perhaps your partner actually has many great qualities. They might even be kind to you and be on the same page with you in many areas, etc…but because of a few things, you STILL feel uneasy or anxious, you still wonder if “this is the one”, you still have that pit in your gut because you can’t decide what to do. Perhaps something about the partner just holds you back and makes you wonder if this really is what you want in a partner. And…that feeling doesn’t go away. Ugh. Maybe there are good days. But no matter how much you try, no matter how many justifications you try to make, no matter how many months or years go by, you can’t completely shake that feeling that you just don’t feel totally at peace with this person – or with the idea of moving forward.

Have you ever been in this situation? I was once. It was AGONIZING. My heart goes out so much to anyone trying to make a difficult decision like that. If I can help, I’d love to…

Here’s a tip….

Imagine the day you might marry this person. Would it make sense to get married with that same kind of awful feeling? That same kind of pit in your stomach? Would you want to force yourself through your wedding day, even though in your gut you feel a little sick? (And no, I’m not talking about totally normal butterflies here.)  And, would you want to have these same thoughts and worries about your wife or your husband during your first or second or fifth year of marriage?

Please tell me the answer is no!

So, the way I see it – you have 2 options:

1.  Do the hardest thing ever and end the relationship.  Eeks! I know – this can be painful – and might even practically feel like a divorce. But if the relationship is causing you soo much turmoil, it’s essential that you are honest with yourself and honest with your partner. But know that if you choose to end it, you WILL survive!! You really will! In the moment, it can feel like the end of the world. But it truly isn’t. You will be fine. And your partner can be fine, too. That is, if you both choose to be. That’s the amazing thing about life – we all can choose how we react to our circumstances. And by the way, there ARE many, many wonderful people out there! Sometimes we get stuck thinking, “This is my only chance to get married. This is the only one.” And it just isn’t true!

And the second option…

2.  Continue analyzing why you don’t feel comfortable. At this point, if you’re truly stuck and paralyzed and unable to make a decision, you might want to get counseling and/or do major, major personal introspection. Is there a chance you are fearful of relationships or marriage, in general? Are you so, so afraid of making a bad decision that you feel paralyzed by having to make any decision at all? Is there a chance you have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and it is interfering with your relationships and causing you to have irrational thoughts? Do you just not feel ready enough or mature enough for marriage?  Maybe you have other things you would like to do while single and the timing is just not right? Do you have trouble choosing partners in general or do you have trouble ending relationships early on, even when you know you should? Is your self-worth, identity, or ego so wrapped up in this relationship that ending it would feel like a loss of your worth? Do you know you should just end it but don’t do so out of FEAR…fear that you will be miserable on your own, that you won’t meet anyone else this good, or that no one else will love you? These are all important things to consider about yourself- and it may be easier to hash things out with a relationship coach, therapist or mentor as you try to get yourself on a solid foundation and build up enough wisdom, self-worth, and strength to approach relationships in a healthier way. I have no doubt that if you do the personal work – you absolutely can improve and make lasting changes! Though these things can also take time. If you’re still in a dating relationship where you feel in turmoil, it still might be best to set both of yourselves free and put all your energy into doing the personal work you need to heal and improve your approach to relationships.

And no matter what you do for yourself and your relationship – – I say to go with your gut.

I’ve lived my whole life that way and it has served me so well – even when things haven’t work out. The thing is, if you’re not being true to yourself, it’s practically like walking around with a ton of bricks on your back. It just feels awful and it can poison so much of your life. So, pay attention. Don’t ignore your deep down gut feelings, intuition, or divine inspiration. I really, really do think that deep down, we usually know what we should do regarding these sorts of matters. We know what is good for us. We just need to be brave enough and bold enough to follow through.

What do you all think? What would you say to someone who feels uneasy in a relationship, yet paralyzed by making the decision to stay or get out? This seems to be a very, very common issue. I’d love your thoughts! 


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  1. Anonymous September 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Mara, your comments are spot on. I went through a terrible break up (with that "gut" feeling)– it drug on and on and I was in an awful state. I was also blind to a friend who comforted me through the whole process. (Luckily, he was very patient, I eventually realized what a kind person he was, and is now my husband.)

    I think you would like a book called "To Bless the Space Between Us"- it's a book written by a Catholic theologian, and it gives blessings for different times or places in life. I'm not Catholic, but I have found these to be wonderful meditations. Anyway, I wish I had read a blessing for the end of a relationship when I was going through this period of my life. In particular, this part struck me (because, oh, the agonizing doubt!):

    Unknown to themselves,
    Certain small things
    Touch nerve-lines to the heart
    And bring back with color and force
    All that is utterly lost.

    This is the time to be slow,
    Lie low to the wall
    Until that bitter weather passes.

    Try, as best you can, not to let
    The wire brush of doubt
    Scrape from your heart
    All sense of yourself
    And your hesitant light.


    • Julie September 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      These are beautiful words. I just copied them into my journal. Thank-you!

  2. katie September 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    I couldn't agree more. I stayed in a relationship once for several years longer than I should have. My gut told me all along that it wasn't right, but I always put off ending it, because he did have some good qualities. Plus, I knew deep down that it would be a difficult breakup (codependency issues), and so at times, it just seemed easier to stay than having to put us both through what I knew would be so painful. Eventually, it got to the point that he started talking about marriage, and I finally realized that my facing my fears about striking out on my own again would be far better than staying in a relationship that both didn't fulfill me and didn't allow me to love the other person in the way that he ought to be loved. The break-up ended up being as difficult (actually more so) than I'd imagined, but it was the right thing to do, and I've never once regretted it. Through it, I ended up embracing and finding my identity again. It led me to travel solo in Europe for a month and visit L'Abri (a wonderful study center). Almost immediately upon my return, I was in a great place, not even looking for a relationship, and I met my now husband. I cannot imagine what my life would look like if I hadn't stepped up and made what at the time, was a very hard and painful choice. I'm so glad I did.

  3. Rik September 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    I was in a relationship in college that was like this. The guy was awesome! He had so many wonderful qualities that I would want in a spouse. But I just had that nagging negative feeling in my gut. I couldn't even place it! Things seemed to be fine but it just didn't feel right. It was so super hard to break it off, but we are both now with wonderful spouses and it definitely worked out how it should have. It's crazy how that works. There are so many incredible people out there, but lots of times those people are just not the right fit for whatever reason.

  4. Haley September 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    I think this is a great post, and it applies to both men and women. It's so easy to get stuck in a relationship because you get comfortable or don't feel like you'll be able to get "better". Sometimes it's just a matter of talking honestly with the other person, but sometimes it's time to move one. I've been through and known plenty of people in this situation and it takes some deep soul searching, usually on multiple fronts. I've been recommended some great psychics in Sydney, meditation practices, and definitely therapy. Sometimes you've got to let all those feelings loose to someone else before you can even start talking to your partner. No matter how you do it, you've got to let those feelings out. You can't keep them buried inside or you'll never be able to make the right decision about the relationship.

  5. Amy September 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm - Reply


    This topic has been something that I have dealt with 3 times in the last 3 years. I've dated FANTASTIC guys. Dating them was a joy, but I did so always with a pit in my stomach. I analyzed whether what I felt was right for me, whether I had unrealistic expectations, etc. I weighed my options and always chose to end it. (Even though it was SO hard.)

    Dating someone that is so good while feeling so uneasy is horrible for two reasons: 1) You feel so close to finding a good solid relationship and 2)there usually aren't "red flags". It truly is a gut feeling/intuition kind of thing. My parents were always asking, "Are you sure? But they are so good to you."

    For me, it always came down to a disconnect between my heart and mind. Sometimes the relationship made sense in my heart but not in my mind and vice versa. I could never get the two to connect. (For example: (Heart) I feel so connected to them and trust them so much, (Mind) but I can't shake this sinking feeling. Or (Mind) We have been friends for so long and have build just a strong foundation of trust … this is what I've always wanted, but (Heart) can I really look at him forever and honestly say I want to choose him above all other?) Honestly, I loved each boyfriend as much as I could and knew how.

    But I never felt complete peace.

    Living in anxiety almost negated the benefits of learning from the relationship. I was in such emotional turmoil that I remember feeling as if I would never wish this feeling on my worst enemy. Living with such goodness while being torn is not happiness.

  6. Amy September 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I finally had to accept that being in a healthy relationship is more than having two emotionally healthy people together. It really is a synergistic, interdependent connection, that takes congruence from both heart and mind from both people. Finding someone that you want to marry and having it be right is truly a miracle!

    One of the reasons that I delayed breaking up with these fine young men was for many of the reasons that you listed above:
    – I'll never find someone like them again.
    – How would someone ever be this good to me again? (Mara, they were SO good to me! When I read your letters about you and Danny, I can relate because they were like him.)
    – What if someone never loves me again?
    – There was the fear of being alone and starting ALL over again. And again. And again.

    Eventually, I was able to end those relationships because I wanted to be healthy. The emotional turmoil of those relationship were physically wearing on me. I lived a very stressful life. While I was with my boyfriend I felt happy, but I would come home and agonize about where it would lead and whether I would want that.

    Essentially, I chose peace and health over anxiety. And although it was hard, it has been the best decision for me. Although I'm not dating anyone how, my heart soars and is so happy with my decision.

    Is it possible to find someone to date that you feel complete peace with? Is it possible for me to feel peace and alignment of my heart and mind? I haven't experienced it yet, but I'm surely living for that. I hope for it. I believe that is what it can be.

    So, thank you for your reassuring words. Thank you so much!

    • Anonymous February 4, 2014 at 1:13 am - Reply


      I have never heard anyone describe the way I am feeling more precisely than you. I have also felt this 3 times within the last 3 years…and am currently going through it. It's the worst. When I try to describe to friends or family the disconnect between my heart and my head no one truly seems to understand, which makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. I am so happy for you that you are in a good place and I think your words might help me get there. Thank you.

      – Amy

  7. Allie September 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    I have been in one of those relationships while in college, also. The guy was amazingly perfect, plus, he was done with school, had a great engineering job, and even owned a house – every college girl's dream! The only problem was, our sense of humor didn't quite jive, and I kept thinking that if I kept trying to make it work, it would, but even when I decided that it didn't matter, I still had that nagging feeling that we just weren't right somehow, even though it seemed like all the parts fit together, he had an amazing testimony, he treated me better than anyone ever had, and we did some fun things! It was the hardest decision to stop dating him, and my roommates all thought that I was crazy/stupid/insane/going to be single forever. After we broke up, he met the girl that he is now married to, and he's happy, and I am so happy for him! I am still single, and still waiting impatiently, I mean with faith, for whoever is meant for me. I hate being lonely, but I don't regret that choice. Even if I never have the opportunity to be married right now, he's happy, and I remind myself of the nagging feeling that plagued me whenever I think about it, so then I can't even allow myself to feel that remorse.

  8. jackie September 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    Wow Mara!! I so needed to hear this today…I in awe right now of the irony that on this very day you posted this!! Perfect timing & some major divine confirmation 🙂 Thank you!!

  9. Jenna September 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Ah, in the process of this now. Its overwhelming but hopeful for a brighter future and a better and longer-term fit with someone else!

  10. Anonymous September 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    I'd love a post about what to do if you married them anyways! Nothing is wrong but things still feel off.

    • Anonymous September 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm - Reply

      I second this request!

    • danny September 7, 2013 at 2:00 am - Reply

      Perhaps we could post on this later, but I'll give you my short answer for now.

      First of all, this is very very very tricky to answer without knowing the specifics of each individual case. It's very possible that the general advice I give to you is not what I'd say if I knew more.

      If, as the post says, the individual truly is a good person (this would include no verbal/physical abuse, it would mean that they are capable of being, or currently are a good and decent parent to any children), then I think the marriage commitment in general is quite a serious one and should be honored. ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE KIDS…I think if the spouse is a good person, you owe it to your children to keep a home in tact and not subject them to the difficult and pain of divorce, and then the weirdness of having their parents bringing people into their lives through dating.

      Perhaps if you find yourself in this situation, life is now asking you to develop a different kind of love and appreciation. My guess is if people who are in arranged marriages can do this, and do it successfully and develop over time a deep partnership and shared love, then two people who are good, decent people that actually did choose each other can do the same.

      This requires abandoning many cultural ideas about love and romance (which should likely be done anyway), and finding a deeper purpose to love and commitment.

      I think going back and reading some of the thoughts a week or two ago on "Marry Him: The Case for Mr. Good Enough" should answer some of those things.

      But also, I'd go back and look at two marriage posts we did a while ago where we tried to frame our overall outlook on marriage:



      Anyway, I suppose there is more to say about this. I lean mostly towards staying in the marriage, focusing on the positive, and growing in a completely charitable love towards them that is not based on some of the potentially more superficial things that may just not be that important.

      Going back to the original post, you're probably better off focusing on #2 – dig deep and find out if how much of the unsettling aspects are due to your own need for personal development. Work on yourself, work on finding happiness separate from your partner, and then you will be able to offer greater love to that partner no matter what.

      Hope that makes sense.

    • Anonymous September 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      Danny, would you mind elaborating further and using both yourself and Mara as examples since you were both married previously. I assume your ex-spouses were good people. Why then was divorce acceptable in your specific scenarios, yet here in your response you are suggesting honoring marriage and doing whatever is possible to remain committed. From what I understand, neither of you were in abusive relationships.

      Mara, in your post you said "I've lived my whole life that way (going with your gut) and it has served me so well." But at some point, you went with your gut to marry your first husband, so if you can help me understand these contradictions.

    • mara September 10, 2013 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      HI – I am sure Danny will try to comment, too. But divorce is not something either of us chose. Our partners moved out and chose other paths, making it impossible for a marriage to continue. Though because we didn't choose a divorce, know that we aren't suggesting that it's never ok for someone to choose a divorce. There are certainly many severe cases when seeking a divorce is necessary. But these days, people walk away for so, so many ego-based, selfish reasons. I mean – about 50% of marriages do not work out – that's abysmal – especially considering that most people have children already. As a society, I really think individuals actively need to get their expectations, self-worth, personal happiness and wellness in check – instead of relying on another human being for that. For starters, parents need to learn how to do this – and teach their children how to do the same.

      And yes, I went with my gut when I married my ex husband. And I don't regret it. I certainly know now that I was not in a good place myself when I made that decision and that is was not a good situation. But at the time, I did my best with what knowledge, self-worth, and abilities I had, no matter how limited they were at the time. I made the decision to marry and never looked back. Not once. So going with my gut was still a powerful, positive force for me. I think when you don't go with your gut/instinct, the bricks on your back and the shame of knowing you are not true to yourself is like poison. So I actually never felt any of that during that marriage. Certainly there were other challenges, but that wasn't one of them. And I'm not the type to say "it was all meant to be" – that phrase doesn't always apply to everything so I don't use it…but I can say that the road of marriage I embarked on was long and painful, but led to the greatest blessings and lessons of my entire life. It led to learning about what real happiness and love is. So trials are not necessarily bad. They can be our greatest teachers. I don't think going with your gut means that you will always avoid pain or trials. To me, it just means that you are doing your best to be true to yourself – regardless of the state of life you are in.

    • danny September 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      Anon 6:18 PM –

      If you were to ask me if my former spouse was a good person, my answer would be "unquestionably yes". She was a very good and kind person that made some mistakes that often erode marital commitments, and though I didn't believe them to be insurmountable, it seems as though she did (though I certainly can't speak for her, that is the impression that I had though). Often when people make serious mistakes, the shame of that is a breeding ground for further mistakes. That may or may not have played a significant role in her subsequent decisions. She ultimately decided to move out and figure life out on her own. Though I disagreed with that path, I had learned that I didn't want to force or manipulate her. A few months after she left, it became pretty clear that a marital relationship was over, though we remained friends.

      In responding to the original question…I guess that I assumed that the two Anons were talking about being married to a good person but where the only thing that was wrong was the sense of uneasiness described in Mara's post. Like I said in my original reply, if I knew more details to someone's concern, my answer might change. In my case, I was married to a very good person who was no longer living marital commitments. When that pattern went on for a year, it was pretty clear it was time to move forward with my life.

  11. Larissa September 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    I dated a fellow for awhile who I could tell was unsettled. I finally told him to not call me anymore until he felt good about a decision. He ended up engaged to the love of his life three months to the day after I told him that. I couldn't be happier that he was able to find someone who calmed his worries!

    Another story – a few years ago I dated a fellow who had told me he wanted to get married. I was thrilled, although curious as to how it would all work out. Two months after that conversation, I cried to two of my friends that I don't know how I could ever marry someone with so much anger, but we all brushed it off as my emotions. The months wore on. He never proposed. I never felt settled and secretly was glad he hadn't proposed. One day, one of my best friends took me to lunch and sat me down to talk about this relationship I was in turmoil over – should I end it or not? She, in no uncertain terms, told me I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and she would no longer support me. I couldn't believe it. It was like a movie montage with all of the events of the past months flashing through my mind. I ended my relationship with him that night.

    Three years later, I met the man to whom I am now engaged. After several severe defensive reactions to things he said with no harm intended, I shared with him that this former love would criticize me and say many hurtful things to me if I'd have done that around him and I was immediately expecting new love to do the same thing. He just holds me until I'm okay.

    It's so interesting…all of the men in the past I've been unsettled with, but I thought it was just the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing how my life would change with him. But now that I'm getting married for the first time in two weeks, at the age of 33, I realize I have questions and concerns, but absolute total peace when I think about my future with him. I could not be happier I waited all this time and ended several relationships that were headed towards marriage (one I broke up with right after he tried to propose – it was awful!). The things that have caused me the most pain have also lead me to the most happiness.

  12. Miss Megan September 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this, Mara. I really needed to read this today. I love your posts. I'm glad you found someone you feel so sure about and happy with — I hope to find that, too, someday. You give me hope!

  13. Anonymous September 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    I am afraid that this post may cause some increased anxiety and fear driven reponses in some of your followers. I think what you share is lovely, and it is a blessing to have open dialogue on so many important issues. For those people who experience the true horror of instrusive thoughts and other forms of OCD, particularly related to relationships, it takes much more than a look inward. It takes a life long commitment to daily change towards one's behavior in regards to unwated or irrational thoughts. It takes strength that is sometimes difficult to harness, and a patience that goes beyond any time frame. Such conditions are truly, for most, eternal in length, in that they will always be a co-pilot on the journey through one's life. I have found that perhaps a lot of "the gut feeling" that you speak of stem from unrealistic images and portrayals of all things relationship in the media (i.e. movies, magazine, music, advertisment, and many more). With that in mind, it is easy to confuse the "gut-feeling" and hence deciding to leave the relationship for a wonderful chance to really grow and mature in the realm of love and relationships. In some cases, a termination of the relationship that is causing such internal turmoil is really just an avoidance technique. And your #2 explains quite nicely how perhaps we need to turn inward, and take it as an opportunity to really breath in who we are while learning to be kind and compassionate to the "bad" feelings, or "gut" feelings. And perhaps, yes, many times people to feel that leaving the relationship was the right thing to do. However, I am just worried that this message you send may scare some people into thinking, "oh dear, now I am really afraid of my own inner voice, this gut feeling must be true, and I need to act on it". Unless there are really some major red flags, such as verbal or physical abuse, it has been useful for me to sit still with the uncomfortable feelings for some time before reacting. Really, I have found it to be that in my suffering I am learning to take is slow and be more accepting of the bad times/thoughts/feelings/urges/images, etc. This has given me the glorious gift of being able to preserve an overall sense of wholeness rather than an instant satisfaction towards the possibilty of something more or different or "not what I am in right now, which is hard, and I just want it to go away"…if that makes sense. Really, the truth is we can all learn to love for the sake of loving, by practice, and self-introspection and aligning ourselves with the teachings of our heavenly Father. And yes, the loving action for some may be to walk away, but I urge us as a culture and as creatures of God, to spend time with the thoughts and feelings that bring us to an uneasy or unsettling feeling in life. It is among the struggle where we can learn to act for the greater good of the other, rather than ourselves, and be transformed and lifted up by our circumstances. I hope this makes any sense at all:)

    • Anonymous September 7, 2013 at 3:17 am - Reply

      Thank you for sharing this — and so eloquently. I have had a lifelong struggle with "gut" feelings that make me want to leave relationships with good, decent men. For years and years, I trusted the gut as unquestionable truth and left relationship after relationship. Each time I found myself in a new relationship with another good, decent man, and the same wrenching gut feelings. The last time, I decided that I had to take a hard look at myself and figure out what was going on with me. Was there something deeper at play? In the past year, while in a relationship that I have felt very ambivalent about, I have learned so much about myself. I've learned how much I was looking to the man in my life to rescue me, to make me feel good about my life and about myself. (Naturally, when that didn't work, I wanted to leave.) I long for my own "love story" but I also see it as sort of an addiction. Like if I can just meet the right guy, everything else will fall into place. I'm learning how to love myself and heal my own wounds. I'm learning to own my challenges without judging myself or blaming anyone else. It's a hard, hard road. I wish I could just leave and find a new partner and not feel this pit in my stomach anymore. But I've tried that several times and I always end up in the same place. For some reason, these painful feelings belong to me. I don't know if I'll stay with my partner or not. But I am committed to my own growth and I'm not willing to take the gut at face value anymore. And if I had not stayed in this conflicted and imperfect relationship, I would not have had to face my darkest feelings. I've gained a lot of strength and self-love from this experience.

      I just wanted to share my experience with "the gut". Sometimes the gut feeling is truly a warning to be heeded and sometimes it's all about you. Sitting with my discomfort hasn't been remotely pleasant, but it has been by far the most transformative experience of my life.

    • katie September 7, 2013 at 4:56 am - Reply

      How cool to hear your words too. And you know what?…I have found that embracing the not knowing, the uncertainty, the gut feeling, whatever name we give it, is such a gift. But man is it hard work filled with many peaks and valleys. I think it's easy to want anything bad to just go away or be "fixed". So much so, that I don't even know how to be loving to myself, especially on the bad days. And it's not really about my self-worth, but more about the projecting of my internal struggles on someone else…in a not so healthy way, you know? Like you said, a lot of us want someone to save us from the crippling despair that can sometimes inhabit us. But if we ignore the weed of despair, and walk around it, rather than through it, it just keeps growing and manifesting itself in ways that contribute to more intense "gut" feelings/emotions….and the cycle spins out of control and perpetually repeats itself, with perhaps brief periods of temporary peace. For me, using my faith, not as a crutch, but an avenue to persue the virtues of kindness, compassion, patience and selflessness, even during the hardest minutes, hours, years has revealed a sense of sweetness in my life that is beyond words. And trust me, there is still so much more work to be done. But I personally feel that having that "gut" sensation, whether briefly or all the time, is an okay and even a welcoming space to be in. There is so much living to be done, even admits the discomfort and at times, despair.

    • danny September 7, 2013 at 5:43 am - Reply

      Maybe it could have been clearer in the post, but I just wanted to say that Mara and I agree with what has been stated here.

      The reason there is a #1 and a #2, is exactly because it is either #1 a warning that the relationship is wrong, or #2 a realization that you as an individual have some work to do. If it's because it is a warning, then of course moving on is a good thing. If it's because you have work to do, moving on from the relationship might also be good, because it would seem as though the individual is not yet ready for the kind of committed relationship that the other person is looking for and deserves. This is an act of kindness to the good person you are dating, allowing them to go find someone who is ready. It also allows you to figure out the work that needs to occur and devote the attention necessary absent the pressure to fit the other person's desire.

      Again, it probably could have been clearer in the post, so I appreciate what has been shared here to elaborate.

      As always, we have some of the best commenters on the internet, full of wisdom and insight and introspection. Thanks so much!

    • Anonymous September 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      Danny, thanks for responding. (This is Anonymous 11:17pm.) Just want to say that Mara's original post was fine. I understood the #1 and #2 and I am so glad she acknowledged that second option.

      I felt the need to comment because there is plenty of conventional wisdom in our culture about following your gut and not so much about exploring it. The #2 experience doesn't get talked about as much. And so for the person who finds that #1 hasn't been working for them, #2 is uncharted territory.

      Thanks for starting this conversation. You and Mara are the best!

    • katie September 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      Hi there, first anonymous now katie here:) just wanted to say thank you for the onderful dialogue. I, too, think Mara's post was lovely and just wanted to chime in a bit with my experience. And thanks Danny for your words too!

  14. Mindy September 6, 2013 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    I was in a relationship like this once. I can recall 2 occasions that I was so physically sick (from anxiety about the relationship, etc) that I could hardly function. I am grateful for the HUGE warning that came my way through how I felt. Why did I allow myself to go through such misery?!?! Great post! I know you are doing great things for people and their relationships through this blog 🙂

  15. Kelly September 8, 2013 at 2:10 am - Reply

    What an amazing post. This hits so close to home because I recently got out of a long relationship where I felt this way the whole time.. but I would suppress it. I would know he was wrong for me, but I'd stick along anyways. Mostly out of fear. Fear of never being loved by anyone else. And what I realize is that I'm not sure he ever truly loved me, so that fear was totally irrational.

    Anyways, I think the hardest thing for a woman to do can be follow her intuition. Especially for those of us who like to rationalize things; intuition is hard to rationalize and can be brushed off. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  16. Camille Millecam Whiting September 8, 2013 at 3:03 am - Reply

    I love this advice! I think my first marriage was vicitm to this- thinking things would get better. It's amazing how my practically perfect current husband was a night and day difference! I tell people to be picky and not settle- and I think ending it is almost always the right choice!

  17. Tammy September 9, 2013 at 5:17 am - Reply

    I agree with Camille that this is great advice on a very complicated subject matter.

  18. HMB September 9, 2013 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Completely agree – women often overlook that 'gut feeling' which more often than not proves to be correct. A woman's intuition has always been a powerful tool that we should utilise more often in relationships. Agree that you need to give people the benefit of the doubt sometimes, but I think each of us knows when something doesn't quite seem right. I've been in a number of relationships where I've had these feelings but dismissed them, only to be proved correct further down the line! In my blog http://www.plentymorefrogsinthesea.blogspot.com I explore dating and relationships as well.

  19. Anonymous September 15, 2013 at 2:23 am - Reply

    This blog is very comforting to me. It has eased my embarrassment about getting engaged to a guy when my gut was telling me not to. I had no idea that there were others who've experienced something similar.

  20. Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm - Reply


    I have been with my girlfriend for 1 year and 7 months now. I have read all these posts and have had a different feeling or mixed feelings. This "gut feeling" as many people call it occurred in early to mid-July. Before everything felt extremely perfect. I recently had knee surgery and my girlfriend was there with me. It just felt extremely right at that point. I felt like our relationship was at its peak. She has helped me discover some of the bad qualities I have constantly had in relationships of the past and has helped me grow so much as a person.

    This gut feeling began after we had an argument about things that made her insecure. I wasn't trying to pressure her into making herself a more confident person, I only offered my help if she needed someone to be there for her of course. The miscommunication lead to a heated argument which ended in her saying, "I don't know if I can do this any more." From that moment I developed this nasty feeling in my gut. We decided to not talk for the next day in which I felt extremely awful. Then after spending the day in turmoil she contacted me and everything seemed okay again.

    • Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm - Reply


      Then in July, we had another heated argument which lead her to say the same thing. I am the type of person that gets extremely hurt when someone I care about says something very hurtful. I react by closing myself off and doing things to ensure that I never feel horrible again. After that we made up but ever since then I couldn't shake that feeling. I told her that I felt this way and she kept asking me what it was and I told her I wasn't sure.

      We then endured 2 weeks of playing the "decision game" to decide whether or not we should continue in this relationship. I made my decision to stay (after talking to a bunch of close friends) and try to improve our communication because it really needed work. After that we hit times where we would argue a lot because she would bring up things from the past that she claimed that I did but I couldn't remember because it was a long time ago. This made me sad and disappointed at times because I had always told her to tell me if she was bothered by something I did or the way I reacted to something. There was a time in August where we had a string of arguments and it got to a point where she told me that she really "couldnt do this any more" so then she wanted to break it off. I explained what the problem was (because she had misinterpreted what I had said). Then we decided to give it another chance.

      As you can tell these last 3 months have been extremely chaotic for me. However, we have not argued in the last 3 weeks. We've been better about our communication. However, I still have this "gut feeling" I guess when she said those things I realized that the idea of us not being together was a probability in life. I had never even entertained the idea when I was with her before (except once when I thought that I was making her unhappy before, turns out she was just stressed and needed someone which I was glad it was that rather than me making her unhappy. -I digress). Now I think these horrible thoughts because I feel like we have opened flood gates into another realm of despair. I never thought our relationship would get to that point. Since not arguing for 2+ weeks I got to a point where I had dismissed the feeling. However, when I would think about it I feel like it was self-perpetuated. It would grow in my head like a cancer and I would constantly entertain the thought because it's hard to tell yourself to not think about something because I mean you are eventually going to think about it. I am really confused on where to go from here. I want this feeling to stop. I just want to go back to the time when I had my surgery and when none of these possibilities were possible. It interferes with my studying and eating at times when i think about it too much.

  21. Spectrumfox November 6, 2013 at 7:51 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness… I'm not crazy!!

    For as long as my relationship started, I too have always felt like there were two sides of me arguing for and against it- the logic and feelings. Logically, I knew in the beginning it wouldn't work for multiple reasons. But the feelings associated with the relationship drew me in. (I also have codependency issues as in I caretake). I then used my feelings to block out my logic, thinking, "Oh, it'll all be fine in the end." I ran away from issues and pushed them back. But I couldn't repress logic forever…eventually, it found its way to the surface of my mind- and unfortunately, when it did, I was already engaged to him. The battle raged on and it tore my mind apart, and I went through a depression, eventually breaking the engagement. We were then friends, then started dating again, because now the same logic vs. feelings cycle always explodes up. When I'm with him, all I want is out. When I'm out (we went on a "break" but it didn't last) or am thinking seriously about separating I want to do anything but.

    I hate this feeling of fighting myself. This guy has his issues and his good side, but I feel like I will never be at peace while with him anytime soon. I know what I have to do, and I don't want to do it, but I HAVE to for both of our sakes. It's unfair to him and me to stay locked together in an inevitable cycle of pain and doubt. This just really, really, REALLY stinks and breaking up will be the most painful thing I'll ever do in my life. (So far)

    Has anyone else dealt with the caretaker side of codependency? This is a cycle I went through a lot and contributed to my insanity. It has to do with taking care of someone and expecting something back (usually subconciously) then getting mad when they don't "appreciate" your caretaking. I wrote this article in order to help anyone struggling with it.–> http://keyboard-slave.blogspot.com/2013/10/when-you-love-too-much-yes-you-can.html

  22. Anonymous January 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    I found this article which I thought was really interesting and the comments were very valuable. How have the last 8 comments found their way here as I don't believe they are not relevant to the article and just promoting someone's services. What a shame as it was very useful.

  23. crl2amb January 1, 2014 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    What a shame about all the "spell" comments defiling such a sincere communication between people.

    This article has been spot on for me and as someone said divine intervention. I was in a relationship for about seven years and having that gut feeling from the beginning and continually dismissing and suppressing it. I too thought it was me having OCD stuff going on but I am pretty certain it was right.

    I say, pretty sure, because it is still so raw and I am feeling lonely and lost, knowing that he is hurting (and could never comprehend why as we were so psychologically mismatched) but it seems he would be happy to drift on till the end of time. I had hoped we would marry at one point, but his reluctance to put it on a further footing and a five years spell of patience and gut feeling, I had to end it.

    It has not been easy though! My first week was as if I had thrown off an albatross and I felt so full of positivity for the future, doing lots of things I would enjoy. After Christmas however I have been having many conflicting and confusing feelings. Wondering if I did the right thing while at the same time knowing I have. I miss the good bits damn it! It is a dark and introspective time for me though so I know I have to go through these emotions. I want to cry but cannot seem to?

    Thanks for the article and I so identify with Kelly and her response.

    Happy New Year to us all as we work through these difficult emotions. xxx

  24. The Notebook January 4, 2014 at 3:40 am - Reply

    I absolutely love this blog. I would love it if you could all check out my blog (it will be linked at the bottom) I'm just sharing my experiences on love and life, still trying to figure it out.


  25. Anonymous January 20, 2014 at 4:45 am - Reply

    I don't know what happened, but the universe somehow aligned to bring me to this blog post. I did not know anyone else experienced this. I wish there was a name for it. I won't tell my whole story, but I will say that I am very much in a difficult place with the person I've loved for three years because I do not know why I am so unsure about us. He is wonderful, and I love him, but I can't put my finger on it. I could cry knowing there are others who feel this way. My family and friends don't understand and think I am the problem. I don't know what will happen, but I'm so grateful someone wrote this and others have commented on it.

  26. Smashley January 23, 2014 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Im currently in this situation ! Ive been in this relationship 7 years now and married for 5 years. We have no kids in common but he has a daughter and I have 3 kids from my precious marriage. IDK if I am having the 7 year itch or what! But ever since the 3rd year together I have felt as if were falling apart. We dont do anything, he sits in the basement all day after work until he goes to bed. We do not have Sex and when we try he is just so drunk he cant preform. He drinks every night. We dont go out unless I throw a fit. We do nothing 🙁 Im stuck up stairs with all 4 kids all day and night while he plays his games and watches football. When I ask him to come upstairs he says theres nothing for him to do up there. I tell him we can watch a movie together and then he says he doesnt like movies :/ and when I finally get him to watch a movie then all he wants is sex. Sex that only lasts 5 mins now! It use to be good now it feels like a waste of time to remove my clothing! To much work for 5 mins of nothing. Most the time he cant even preform. 🙁 Then when I think of leaving I feel SICK, like my gut just aches and feels like im going to get sick. I ust dont know what way to turn. I dont know if Im afraid I can t do it alone or what. Please help!

  27. Followyourheart January 28, 2014 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your blog on intuition.
    I am day 2 of being alone after initiating a (very difficult) break up and moving out. I love this person very much and we were together for 2 and a half years. He is a fantastic person and we shared many good times.
    However, i know he is not right for me and whenever i think about our future together it feels dead and dim. The thought of getting married and having a family (with him) fills me with dread and sadness.
    For whatever reason he is not the one and we are not meant to be.
    I am following what makes my heart sing and makes me feel alive/calm. No more pit in my stomach about something not being right.
    My dream is to travel for a bit alone and find myself again.
    The tricky bit will be setting post break up boundaries and not going back to give it yet another go. Enough is enough and life is too short to sit on the fence doubting what you know is right!

  28. Anonymous February 1, 2014 at 2:06 am - Reply

    I'm going through a difficult break up right now. I broke up with him because of the same thing you talk about in this post.. That nagging feeling in your gut that keeps telling you that no matter how wonderful and supportive that person is, he's just not the right one… It took me a while and tons and tons of courage to make the decision of ending it. Now I'm struggling with the idea that perhaps it wasn't the best choice… you start to remember the good times, you start to miss him in those lazy sunday afternoons.. you realize that you feel utterly alone, but the hard part is to know if your doubt is because you really miss him or just because you miss not being lonely..
    It's really difficult, and I don't know what to do.. I broke up with him for a reason in the first place, right?

  29. Anonymous February 3, 2014 at 7:01 am - Reply

    Your words are helping me get through ending my relationship. I have the same gut feeling.. I love the woman, and I always will, but ever since I met her, I knew it wasn't going to be forever and that I did not want to marry her. She was very set in her ways, and as much as she wants me to be a man and make all the decisions, she argues with me over everything. She quit smoking – I told her to do it for herself, but I think she really did it for me. I'm thankful for that, but the replaced it with constantly eating junk food, so her weight has gone up. She babies her grown kids (older teenagers close to 20) to the point where it has basically ruined the relationship. After I tried to help them get jobs, she practically yelled at me and told me they would get jobs when they were ready (never cuz they just want to sit home all day and play video games). She spoils them so bad to the point where she has no money left anymore for us to even make plans to go on vacation together. So I looked deep into the relationship.. and thought about it hard… and I knew from the start that this wasn't the woman I wanted to marry. And so… I had to make a hard decision. As much as I know this woman loves me with all her heart, I think she loves my stability more.. she loves that I am financially and fiscally responsible. But I feel like I'm almost putting my life on hold because of her .. I want to travel and do things, but I can't because she won't let her kids grow up. I know there are others out there.. and as much as this women does love me.. and I don't fault her, because I WANT HER TO LOVE HER KIDS – but the fact is… it has just gotten to the point where I feel I'm holding her back and letting her rely on me too much. I'm not upset with her for loving her kids and wanting to spoil them, but they have no incentives to get jobs or do anything with their lives because she does everything for them and gives them everything they want. Not to mention that she can't leave her two teenagers alone because they fight all the time and have almost killed each other. And thus.. our relationship suffers because we can't do anything but stay home. So I searched for a related topic to your post.. came across this.. and I appreciate your words.

  30. Anonymous February 3, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I am loving this blog. I asked my husband to leave yesterday and today he went. Today is the day before my 37th birthday. I'm literally panicking and bursting into bouts of tears regulary. It's awful like someone has died and left me all alone in the world. I'm really scared. I have two small children but reading some of these posts has made me remember why I asked him to go. Thank you. I feel like it won't be the end of everything for me and that there will be happiness and peacefulness in my future even alone.

  31. Anonymous February 4, 2014 at 7:52 am - Reply

    I’m a married woman living happily with three kids and a lovely husband.But wasn’t always a bed full of roses for me.I was once married to a man before meeting my present husband.I was compelled to marry my ex husband because my family wanted me to marry a high society man like my dad claimed to be.I never loved him but maybe he did love me but forcing it on someone only pushes the person further away.The love of my life was separated from me because my parents said they were just ordinary in order word he had no money and power.I was always in contact with the love of life but having a relationship with him wasn’t possible because i was married but the more i went further from the love of my life the greater the love i felt from him.when my husband discovered that i was still keeping in touch with the love of my life he did alot of things that i can not start talking about.I asked for a divorce and he refused because of the situation that was at hand.After a long while of misery and torments i found a spell caster named BANOJO online through some comment on how i got my husband out of my life.I contacted the spell caster and told him my problems.He gave me a list of materials to buy which i later sent to him in order for him to make the spell.Since then my life has turned around and all my problems has been solved.So if you have that same problem or a similar one you can contact him via email at igbodospiritualtemple@gmail.com

  32. Emily bosh February 5, 2014 at 1:36 am - Reply

    I'm a married woman living happily with three kids and a lovely husband.But wasn't always a bed full of roses for me.I was once married to a man before meeting my present husband.I was compelled to marry my ex husband because my family wanted me to marry a high society man like my dad claimed to be.I never loved him but maybe he did love me but forcing it on someone only pushes the person further away.The love of my life was separated from me because my parents said they were just ordinary in order word he had no money and power.I was always in contact with the love of life but having a relationship with him wasn't possible because i was married but the more i went further from the love of my life the greater the love i felt from him.when my husband discovered that i was still keeping in touch with the love of my life he did alot of things that i can not start talking about.I asked for a divorce and he refused because of the situation that was at hand.After a long while of misery and torments i found a spell caster named BANOJO online through some comment on how i got my husband out of my life.I contacted the spell caster and told him my problems.He gave me a list of materials to buy which i later sent to him in order for him to make the spell.Since then my life has turned around and all my problems has been solved.So if you have that same problem or a similar one you can contact him via email at baba.banojo@outlook .com .Good luck as you do so.

  33. Kristine Helm February 9, 2014 at 8:54 am - Reply

    My name is Kristine Helm. My life has been sour since i became a cripple at the age of 13 and this has really affected my living. I met Nelson during the Olympic when i was 24 years old and he was a very funny and caring guy who taught me how important i am to world. He made me understands been crippled is not the end of the world for me and i was very happy having him as my companion. Justin was a very hardworking guy and he promise to marry me before he left for business trip in China. Two months later he arrived from China and never visited me. I was told by my brother that Justin is now going out with my friend and this really broke me down cos he is the only one that truly loves me. No one wants to go out with me because i am a cripple. I and my brother traveled to South Africa to watch the world cup when i heard about temple of permanent healing. I never believe in God because i am a cripple and i believe that no one can ever make me walk again but when i heard about his great power, i decided to go there. I begged my brother to take me to temple of permanent healing. I spent 7 days in his healing center and it surprises me that on the 7th day, i was able to stand and walk. The priest told me that Justin was under a spell and he prayed for me to destroy every obstacle in my life. I came back home and i was shocked to see Justin. He came and begged me for forgiveness, our relationship came back normal. I am very happy to inform the general public that i and Justin are happily married since October last year and i am pregnant. I know that people might be passing through any problem and i will advise you to contact temple of permanent healing because his miracle is free. His email address is templeofpermanenthealing@hotmail.com

  34. Jen June 30, 2017 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Such a great perspective. I became co-dependent in my marriage which is now ending. I’ve had that unsafe, uneasy feeling for a long time. Partly because of my husband’s behavior, but also because I contribute to the relationship’s dynamic. When I finally accepted that we are who we are, and let go… I felt a freedom that I haven’t felt in longer than I can remember. I stopped making him responsible for my happiness. Now that I’m not focusing on the relationship, which overwhelmed my every waking thought, I am free to focus on doing what really makes me happy in life.

    • Mara Kofoed June 30, 2017 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      Wow. Thank you for sharing and contributing. I’m so happy about the freedom you’re feeling. That is so huge. And I love your plan to use your new found energy to focus on what really makes you happy. You are on a good path with this…and I send you my love and hope for a beautiful future.

  35. Katie July 1, 2017 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Thank you! I find your comments so grounded in truth and light. I’m wondering your thoughts on those who are in their thirties and trying to date, but just aren’t….how to think about this and be proactive without going crazy. Also, what are possible reasons why a seemingly successful man (socially, emotionally, career) cannot go forth with any relationships?

    • Mara Kofoed July 2, 2017 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Ah, Katie- love you. Thanks for connecting. And yes, I was once in my thirties and single, too. And yeah, I wanted to date. Oye. I had a desire to have kids and so I felt my chances to try for that were limited. If only we never aged! Anyway, my proactivity involved telling friends that I would love to be set up with someone if they knew of anyone they would recommend. I knew I had such an awesome network of friends that I loved and respected so much. And I figured there MUST be a great single guy out there that one of them knew. I was also really settled in my life at that time. (I had a home, I was running a business, I was a youth leader at church.) And I knew my time was limited. So I figured getting set up was a more efficient way to meet people. I didn’t want to burn out going to every last singles party, etc. Anyway, most all of the guys I dated before meeting Danny were indeed set-ups. And Danny was a set-up, too! Ha. Other than that, I did go to a few events and parties where I knew I could meet some people. And I also hosted a party or two at my house as well. But even with all that, it was crazy (time wise).

      Another thing I did was open myself up to people who had been married before. The truth is, I wasn’t leaning towards that in the beginning. I thought one divorce was enough for a future marriage – and truthfully most of the divorced people I knew were understandably still trying to recover. But finally I realized that meeting someone who had been through a major life experience would actually be awesome! And it was! Danny was worlds away in life experience compared to many of the single guys. Anyway, I was totally attracted to that. Of course, he was also in a really, really good place.

      And – think of the core values that you have. And then think of any place out there where like-minded people might hang out (whether it’s related to a cause, an activity like yoga or hiking, professional groups, church groups, travel, etc.) I think it’s community that leads to the best kind of connections. And regardless if you meet someone, you still get to do what you love and meet people you enjoy.

      Also, guys that can’t move forward in a relationship – argh. I say that because it’s just plain hard when that happens and two people aren’t on the same page. I don’t think there’s a single answer for everyone. But if I had to guess some reasons – I think many guys like to continue keeping their options open. I hear from single friends these days that there is just always “one more swipe” on a dating app and it’s hard to settle down and commit when their dating apps are still active and new options are always present. It’s the illusion that there is maybe someone even better around the corner…

      Anyway, I feel for anyone dating in this tech age. You are not alone. So many incredible women I know are saying the same thing.

  36. Matthew Hehir July 25, 2017 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Hi, my girlfriend broke up with me due to a gut feeling recently. She’s taking some time to figure things out but I’m not sure how to help. We have a good relationship where we are both happy together, we have good support for each other and are intimate. Just wondering if you have any tips; you say go with your gut but if you know everything is fine how can you combat these somewhat irrational feelings.

    Any help appreciated – she really is the most wonderful person and anything I can do to help her and us is good.

  37. Cynthia August 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    I´m that woman above, almost in the same scenario. I just explained that I had this nauseous feeling to my boyfriend and I´ve established what points I needed to talk about with a friend of mine. He happened to be at work, so I mentioned that we could talk in more detail over the weekend. He said I couldn’t´t bring up that type of heaviness without confronting him now about it. So, we covered a few points, but I felt pressured to think and that doesn’t work well when you´re trying to tackle the stomach solution. Altogether, he basically said that he hears that it´s over due to the pressured conversation, which I reminded him why it was necessary that we speak on the weekend eye to eye. He just wanted a pin pointed solution during that time frame. That certainly did not help. I would recommend really listening. REALLY listening, not interrupting, and letting her express herself in a safe zone. If you want to keep her, that shows her that you are letting her put herself in first priority. We all need to keep ourselves in priority to be healthy with our partners. Then he said he´d call at 1:30 in the morning when his shift is done and I asked him “what if I´m sleeping?” (we have been trying to move to his place on the countryside with a kid/I´m a single mother/totally done at the moment needing to come back to myself) He said if I cared enough then I would take the call and I said “Maybe he should care enough to recognise my limits, so that we´re trying to work together so that we both can be strong.” Suddenly, he recognised this as a possible point and said we could also talk the next day. I think it´s everyones personal responsibility to come back to the place inside themselves to recognise what they need, communicate it, compromise if energy permits, and give energy when it´s there. Sometimes, maybe, it´s only an energy imbalance between two people. Sometimes, that can be respected and sometimes it cannot. The question is, are energy balances something able to work through? Single mother/kid versus single man without a child….

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