Flickr Photo by One Way Stock
Flickr Photo by One Way Stock


I was catching up with one of my friends a few weeks ago when she told me that things were not going well in her relationship with her boyfriend. Their issues were significant and had been going on for years. She had communicated her concerns and needs to him but he repeatedly was unable to work on them in a satisfying way.  Their relationship was deteriorating and seemed to be for a while. She couldn’t give me any good reasons to stay…but she refused to leave.

If that situation sounds familiar it’s probably because most of us have been in her shoes at one point or another. We keep staying in “relationship purgatory” where our present is miserable but we keep hoping for a future that will be better. We wrongly think that we’ve “invested” so much time with this one person that there must be a pay-off somewhere. But there isn’t and there won’t be.

But how do you know when you should stay and fight the good fight or pack your bags and send word to your mother?

The 80-20 Rule

I wish someone had told me about this when I was 19! It makes so much sense and is so deceptively simple that it erases much of the circular mind tapes we play when debating to end a relationship.

According to the 80-20 rule, a healthy relationship is good 80 percent of the time and only sucks 20 percent of the time. There are variances of how this is defined all over the internet, but this is how I like to understand it. If you’re unhappy more than 20 percent of the time in your relationship, then it’s not healthy and you need to leave. So if you’re fighting every weekend or every other day or when things are going great you find yourself wishing that was the norm, then things are not going well. Yes, please, absolutely talk to your partner about your unhappiness and try to find resolutions to your problems. But if you both come to an agreement and your partner repeatedly fails to uphold his or her end of the bargain and things still suck more than 20 percent of the time, LEAVE!

What’s your take on the 80-20 rule? Have I grossly misinterpreted the theory? Sound off below!

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