Quick fixes for common stressors, DIY Halloween costumes, kiddie parties on a budget, and so much more in the October issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines, out now!

Grab a copy now!

Good Housekeeping
Aileen Santos, CPC MAC, Contributor
April 07, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A reader asks Relationship Coach Aileen Santos for advice on whether she should break up with her boyfriend or keep working at her relationship. By Aileen Santos, CPC MAC
Add Yours

relationship_coach_2_inside.jpgHi, Ms. Aileen,

I'm in a relationship with my current boyfriend for about a year now. The first few months we were together, I tried to ask him about his past. He walked away from chatting and didn't text for hours, until midnight came and I called him to patch things up. The next morning everything felt so different. Maybe my feelings changed because of my doubts. He still communicates with his ex-girlfriends, especially on Facebook, and I just don't feel comfortable with that.

A few months ago I tried to break up with him, but we resolved our issues and got back together. But I still feel strange towards him, and I don't think it's fair for me to be with him when I feel this way. A few days ago I tried to break up with him again, and the conversation didn't go the way I expected it to. He made assumptions and accusations that really hurt me.

Now I'm not so sure about where I am and what I'm supposed to do. I miss him, and I feel guilty for saying hurtful words to him and acting that way.


*Name and some details have been changed.

Dear Yeng:

Thank you so much for your honest letter. I'm sure many women can identify with what you're going through because it's true that relationships aren't simply about whether or not you love someone; so many other factors are involved. As far as your current situation is concerned, the two major factors that you need to pay close attention to are "negotiables vs. non-negotiables" and "feelings vs. urges." Let's take a closer look at both.


When considering a long-term (and possibly lifetime) relationship with someone, one of the most important things you need to know about yourself is this: "What are the three most important qualities you need in a partner for you to be happy in your relationship?"

Take note, I'm only asking for your all-important three things, not a long checklist. And I'm asking about qualities, things that are more or less a permanent part of who he is. His current job and position, for example, are not qualities, but the fact that he's hard working and creative are.

The reason you need to know your non-negotiables is this: even in the best of relationships, 70 percent of all relationship problems never really get solved and just have to be worked around by both partners. And when you're absolutely sure that your partner has the most important qualities you need in a man, then it becomes much easier for you to deal with those unsolved relationship problems because they'll just be part of your negotiables (i.e., things you're willing to compromise on).

Ask yourself now: "What are your three non-negotiables, and does your current boyfriend have them?" Your honest answer to this question will help you decide whether to leave or stay, and your choice will be much more reliable than if you relied on your feelings alone.


Our feelings and emotions are gifts; they tell us when there's something in our lives that we need to pay closer attention to and make decisions about, and when we heed the lessons of our feelings, we are able to live with more honesty and freedom. Many times, however, we often confuse them with urges. While feelings tend to be consistent and filled with life lessons, urges are knee-jerk reactions that may damage relationships.

Here's an example: Your feelings are telling you you're angry and hurt. Maybe he forgot your anniversary or your birthday. If you paid closer attention to your feelings, you might learn that your hurt and anger aren't really about his forgetting, but the idea that his forgetting might mean he doesn't love you anymore. If you figure this out inside yourself, then you can communicate and clarify these things with him.

On the other hand, if you don't take the time to learn from your feelings, then you might just give in to your urges: He forgot your birthday, you feel angry and hurt, and now you have the overwhelming urge to hurt him back, so you pick a fight and break up with him.

Urges, in general, are overwhelming instant reactions to a situation (usually born out of our need to defend ourselves), while feelings tend to be more consistent over time.

Take a few moments to review your past actions and emotions now. When you broke up with him, was it because you were learning from your feelings or giving in to an urge? And when you say you miss him, is it your feelings telling you something, or is it a knee-jerk reaction to being single again?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you learn the all important lessons of the past, so you don't have to go through these situations again in the future.

I hope this helps, and good luck!


(Photo courtesy of Megyarsh via Flickr Creative Commons)


Want to get in touch with Aileen Santos, the Relationship Coach? Here’s how:

If you'd like to send me a comment, a question, or a problem for me to work with in these e-letters—or even a success story!—then please e-mail me at TheRelationshipCoach@FemaleNetwork.com. I'm so sorry that I won't always be able to respond directly and personally to your letter, but I ABSOLUTELY WILL READ YOUR LETTER.

I would also love to answer it in detail in this column and to turn your letter and my answer into books and articles that can help thousands of other women who find themselves in the same situation. (Please let me know if you'd like me to just read your letter and not answer it here; otherwise, I'll change the names and some details and go for it.)

To help me write a truly helpful answer, please keep your e-mail in a simple format:
1. One or two paragraphs only, please, and
2. Be as specific as you can—the details help me really get a feel for your unique situation.

Please also feel free to click on the “share” and “like” buttons above so you can share these insights with your friends—they’ll love you for it!

DISCLAIMER: The material contained in this column is an expression of opinion and is not to be construed as legal, medical, or professional advice. This material may only to be used for personal entertainment purposes.

Name :
Email :
Website :
Comment :
Security Image
NOTE: FemaleNetwork.com is a CLEAN ZONE. Editors reserve the right to delete obscene comments.
Filter comments by:
  • christina Apr 12 2011 @ 06:33pm Report Abuse
    very helpful :)
    Last modified A long time ago
  • len Apr 14 2011 @ 12:21am Report Abuse
    ms.aileen, you rock! helpful indeed!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • abraham May 07 2011 @ 01:45pm Report Abuse
    dear ms aileen,

    good day.i just want to ask your opinion or maybe ur help.i'm married for 11 years with 3 wounderful children. last tuesday i found out through a text message that my husband has another girl he confessed it to me and said that he had 2 child with that girl. now i'm confused and hurting because eventhough he did that bad thing i still love him.i do not want to have a broken family.what will i do will i let go of him or just accept that we had our mistakes and that is the reason why he had another girl.he said he loved us more than her girl but is ask if if he could forget or leace her he said how about his child with that girl what will i do please help me enlighten my mind please
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Aileen Santos May 27 2011 @ 10:05am Report Abuse
    @Christina: Glad you found it helpful!

    @Len: Thanks for the feedback!

    @Abraham: I feel sad hearing about your situation right now, and the pain you must be going through.

    When I started this column with FemaleNetwork.com we decided that I won't be answering questions regarding marriage situations, for one important reason: When you and your partner are already married, any action you take / decision you make doesn't' just affect you both - it affects your family of origin, his family of origin, and your children. Sometimes, your network of relationships even extend to your friends & community.

    Which is why I advise you to seek help from a counselor, so that you can truly work on your concerns together & in-depth.

    For sure, there will never be enough space in this column for us to consider all the factors that you need to consider in your marriage situation. But these important factors CAN be looked at and addressed in a professional counseling relationship.

    I am glad, however, that you are motivated to really work on & improve this situation in your marriage. Just remember that there are some things we cannot do alone, and we shouldn't be ashamed to seek help when it's necessary.

    This is your family & your life that we're talking about. Giving it the importance & attention it deserves is something you will not regret.

    Good luck to you and your family.

    Last modified A long time ago
Filter comments by:
1 to 4 of 4
follow us
Aileen Santos, CPC MAC
LATEST Articles
MOST READ Articles
5 Signs He's Probably Cheating On You
Is there another woman on his mind?  Oct 26, 2016 
7 Wrong Assumptions People Think Of Just Because You're Single
Some are just too quick to assume.   Oct 26, 2016 
10 Major Love Lessons You Can Learn from Romance Book Writers
These love story experts share what they've learned from writing about romance, relationships, and heartbreak.   Oct 25, 2016 
How to Stop Getting Jealous Over Your Boyfriend's Dating Past
Do you get paranoid over thoughts about his exes and past flings?  Oct 24, 2016 
3 Ways to Have Awesome Date Nights at Home
Especially since the weekend is near!  Oct 21, 2016