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Heart Beat

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What do you do when your heart is broken, but you aren’t broken up? Even worse, what do you do if it’s broken, but it’s partly your fault? Or they didn’t do anything objectively wrong, but your feelings were hurt? What if you still love each other, but the logistics are a mess? Where’s the line between giving someone the grace to make mistakes, and beating a dead horse? When is it time to call it off? When is it worth still fighting for? Heartbeat, today I have more questions than answers. It’s something we’ve all come up against: when is it time to be done?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s something I’ve been through in my own life before, and it’s something I’ve watched friends go through. I don’t have answers, but today I’m giving the advice I want to hear. First, take into account the whole context of your relationship with this person. Is this one bad day, or is it a pattern? Maybe journal about it and sit with it for a bit. It’s a hard call to make in the moment because when you are upset, you can easily read that emotion into your entire relationship.

Next, think about the people who influence you in your life. Is it your mom’s voice telling you to call this off? Is it your friend’s? Or is it really your own? Are you doing what you think you should do, or what you really believe is right? Sit with that for a second too. It’s not easy. Maybe talk to someone else who knows you and your relationship differently. Get a new perspective. Sometimes you’re too close.

Then, I would take count of the ways you communicate with your partner. Are you being especially Minnesotan about this? I notice that a lot of times, we assume someone else knows what we’re feeling or that we have discussed the problem before, but when we actually look back, it has never explicitly come up. Our partners are not mind readers. Is this something you feel comfortable talking to them about? That’s a good sign. If you are too uncomfortable to bring it up at all, you know, that maybe means it’s not meant to be.That being said, waiting to cool down before having a conversation is probably a good idea.

Recognize that they might not say what you want them to say. They might not apologize. Or they might apologize but not regret the choice they made. They might get defensive and double down. Or maybe they do apologize. Who knows? Maybe you realize through the course of that conversation that you were in the wrong. Or that likely, you are both coming at it from different perspectives. There are two sides to this story. I hope that you two can get to that point at least.

So then you need to know what’s a deal-breaker for you. She said she can’t put aside every Saturday for date night. She needs to spend some time with her friends. You want to know that you are a priority and that she thinks it’s important to make time for you. Is that Saturday night a deal-breaker? Or is there some other way to approach your need? Does he not like being around your friends? Okay. He stands by that. They’re not his type of people. But it’s important to you. Is he willing to compromise because it’s important to you, or does he put his foot down? And is that a deal-breaker?

It’s a hard call, folks, and there are no good answers. But I hope we can all approach our relationships today with a little more compassion. A little more empathy. A little more compromise. And a little more communication. And at the end of the day, I hope we all have the strength and wisdom to know when to call it, and when to keep fighting the good fight. Trust yourself.

Having trouble navigating the St. Olaf dating scene? Email your questions to and maybe one of our love columnists will answer them in next week’s issue. All submitted questions will remain anonymous.