Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay is a book by Mira Kirshenbaum to help you decide whether you should stay and recommit to your relationship or whether you should leave.
- Bullet Summary
- Full Summary
- #1. If Things Were Ever Good
- #4. If You Had No Obligations
- #5. If There’s Still Some Good
- #10. Lying
- #13. Affection & Sex
- #15. Problems: Acknowledgement & Action & Results
- #22. Can You Leave?
- #24. Are You Losing Self Respect?
- #25. Are You Avoiding Your Partner?
- #26. Support & Interest
- #27. What If He Were Gone?
- #30. Do You Get What You Need?
- #32. Painful Emotional Intimacy
- #36. If All Problems Disappeared
- Real Life Applications
- Ambivalence -not sure whether to stay or leave- is the worst position to be in
- You don’t decide by weighing the pros and cons: that’s how ambivalence happens
- You decide with a diagnostic approach: when you find the prognosis, you know what to do
The author says the worst position to be in is ambivalence, such as not knowing whether you want to stay or you want to go.
And the approach most people take, of weighing in pros and cons, is the worst possible one. You shift from yes and no as you focus on either the pros and the cons, and that gets you stuck in ambivalence.
She proposes instead a a diagnostic approach: that single answer that will tell you if it’s too good to leave or too bad to stay.
#1. If Things Were Ever Good
When things between you two were good, would you say they were really good?
If you find that when things were at their best they weren’t really that good, that’s a bad sign. You can often fix what got broken, but you can’t fix what never worked.
And you should consider breaking up.
#4. If You Had No Obligations
If God said it was okay to leave, would you be relieved you can finally end your relationship guilt-free?
Some people might feel bad for leaving the relationship. This question will make sure it’s not morals, friends or any external forces that still keep you in the relationship.
#5. If There’s Still Some Good
Do you share, or look forward to sharing any activity which makes you feel close?
Even if there’s just one thing that reliably bonds you and make you feel good, it’s possibly that by fixing your problems you can have a good and healthy relationship.
This guideline excludes children.
Did you get to the point where you feel what your partner say is more likely to be a lie than the truth?
If you reached that point, there’s no trust in the relationship and you’ll be happier leaving.
#13. Affection & Sex
Do you both want to touch each other and make efforts to touch each other?
Sex is an indicator of health in a relationship. In relationships that are not going well you can predict there’s less love making. If for several months you go on without touching each other and there’s no sign of that changing, it’s a very bad sign.
#15. Problems: Acknowledgement & Action & Results
Does your partner see or admit your problems as a couple? If yes, does he take effective action?
First of all, you need to make sure your partner knows how much the issue means to you.
If your partner still does not acknowledge and work on the problem, then how can you solve it? Chances are it will only get worse over time. It’s also important he actually can solve it.
#22. Can You Leave?
Look at the reality of leaving and ask yourself: does it still make sense?
Some men leave thinking they’ll date younger women, some women are afraid of leaving because of money issues. These imaginative realities are not necessarily real. Look at what your life would be more realistically and then ask yourself again if you’d be happier.
#24. Are You Losing Self Respect?
Is your partner making you feel so bad that you started believing those accusations yourself?
If your partner is making you feel bad about parts of your personality that are important to you and if you are start losing self confidence in those areas, then you’ll be happy to leave.
#25. Are You Avoiding Your Partner?
In regard to disrespect, are you actively trying to avoid your partner?
If your partner is so disrespectful that you are trying to limit contact with him, then the level of disrespect has reached gigantic proportions and you’ll be happy to leave.
#26. Support & Interest
Does he show concrete support for and interest for what’s important to you?
If he’s interested and supportive of what matters to you or what you’re trying to achieve, than it’s a partner that he’s there when it counts. And that makes it a relationship which is too good to leave.
#27. What If He Were Gone?
If you were to breakup, would you lose and miss something important in your life?
If there is not about him you would miss, then you know this relationship is too bad to stay. If there is something about who he is and does for you that you that really matters in your life, that’s an important positive sign (but not enough to say it’s too good to stay).
#30. Do You Get What You Need?
If you are a reasonable need, are you able to work it out?
If yes it’s a good sign that your partner accepts influence (also read Gottman on Influence). If your partner cannot help you with your basic, reasonable needs, than you’ll probably be happier to leave.
#32. Painful Emotional Intimacy
Does it feel that getting emotionally close often results in pain for you?
Kirshenbaum says it’s normal to occasionally get hurt when getting close to someone. But if you feel hurt too often and it seems your partner’s main interest in getting close is to harm, then it’s a relationship where you cannot be close. And you’ll be happier to leave.
#36. If All Problems Disappeared
If all the problems in your relationship were solved today, would you still feel ambivalent?
If you’re not sure you want to stay even nothing were wrong, then you’re not happy with your partner or your relationship. And you’d be happy to leave.
Real Life Applications
Ambivalence is a terrible place to be in. Go through the questions instead and decide whether to stay -and then make your relationship better- or leave.
What about a final big shot?
I wish sometimes she would stress just a little bit more that it might be worth it to try this final solution: give your everything. For one month straight, just give. And if your partner doesn’t improve, then you’re 100% sure.
But don’t get this wrong: the author is not encouraging you to leave and actually has great suggestions on how to improve things.
Can be a life changer
I think Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay can be a life changer for many people who are unsure about what to do with their relationships.
Everything sheMira says just makes a lot of sense. But it’s that kind of “making sense” that is not readily available and obvious to everyone and that sometimes you must read or hear by someone else.
Then, after you do, everything clicks and makes sense. Eureka!
The author really has a lot of deep wisdom in between question that just by themselves would be worth the price of the book.
Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay is a great book.
It was an amazing read for me and I can only recommend it.
And I recommended not just to people who are unsure on what to do, but also to those who want to learn more about human psychology.
I wrote an article inspired by it, if you are ambivalent right now, also check should you stay or should you go.