Using A 'Relationship Decision Tree' Can Help You Decide Whether To Leave Your Partner

Ending a relationship is never easy, especially if you must let go of someone you care about. Perhaps you've outgrown your partner — or the other way around, or you've fallen out of love. Distrust, infidelity, differences in life goals, and poor communication are all valid reasons to move on. But even if you make the right choice, you may still have regrets after a breakup.

Unfortunately, there's no surefire way to tell when it's time to end a long-term relationship. Sometimes, it's best to trust your gut and do whatever feels right. But even so, you still need to think about your partner and how your actions will affect him. For example, you might be at a point in your life where you want to climb the career ladder or start a business. Your partner, on the other hand, insists on having children and moving to the suburbs. You love him and respect his choices, but you're no longer on the same page. The question is, should you give up on your dream or leave the relationship and get a fresh start?

In such cases, there's no right or wrong answer — and making a decision can be emotionally draining. However, each relationship has its own dynamics, and sometimes, the best thing you can do is move on. If you're unsure about what to do next, consider using a relationship decision tree to gain some clarity. 

What's a relationship decision tree and how does it help?

Professional therapist KC Davis recommends using a decision tree to figure out whether you should stay in a relationship or end it. Basically, you'll write down a couple of questions related to your situation, mapping out different options and their possible outcomes. This visual tool will guide your decision-making while helping you organize your thoughts.

Decision trees are widely used in business, machine learning, marketing, finance, and other areas. For example, entrepreneurs may use this tool to decide on a marketing strategy or assess growth opportunities. First, they'll draw a flowchart that starts with one question, or root node, that branches out into different options, each with its own set of potential outcomes. Next, they'll analyze this data and decide on the best course of action.

You can use the same approach to evaluate your relationship, your career, or other areas of your life. The diagram follows the natural flow of thought, making it easier to understand the consequences of your actions. At the same time, it helps you identify the root cause of whatever problem you're struggling with and how far you're willing to go to get it solved. 

The easy way to create a relationship decision tree

Making a decision tree can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. First, grab a pen and paper and think about the main issue that's causing you to question the relationship. After that, write down a question related to that issue. Let's say you found out your partner cheated on you. With that in mind, ask yourself, "Am I willing to accept his behavior?" If your answer is Yes, then it makes sense to stay in the relationship. But if you're not willing to accept what just happened, brainstorm different courses of action you could take.

If you choose the second option, try to determine if your partner is trying to hurt you. Write down this question and the possible answers. For example, your significant other may have cheated for reasons that had nothing to do with you. Another possibility is that he did it because he was angry at you. Next, list the possible outcomes for each option. These may include positive outcomes (e.g., your partner cheated on you, but he's willing to change) or negative outcomes (e.g., his actions have caused irreparable damage to your relationship).

Continue to expand your tree until you gain more clarity. When you're done, take a step back and analyze each scenario, and listen to your gut. If you feel like a breakup is imminent or that you can't trust your partner anymore, perhaps it's time to move on.