"I HAD to stay in the moment and not imagine any “what if” situations because they just weren’t realistic and... would sure ruin the mood."

Dempsey never feels out of her element as a debut author, consistently showcasing her veteran savvy as she conveys a critical message to the masses. She presents an organized, coherent, and forceful argument toward ending a relationship rather than being caught in a perennial—and miserable—cycle of guilt, shame, pity, and chiefly, regret. Though she is not a therapist, her focus on women's trauma lends credence and validity to the content she puts forward in her work. While her efforts focus on "abusive or unfulfilling" marital relationships, it is clear that her guide is applicable to all relationships and is predicated upon loving oneself before anything or anyone.

Dempsey's raw and authentic outpouring of her personal experiences truly resonates. She has been front and center in the exact relationships she writes about ending. More importantly, however, she presents roadmaps throughout her book on how to go from simply thinking and fantasizing about being liberated from a miserable relationship to actually ending things. Fittingly, she coined the word "relationsh*t" to play off the idea of being utterly trapped in an unfulfilling marriage or alliance of any type. By sharing her own stories, she establishes the foundation of her arguments, particularly on the topic of children witnessing or experiencing dysfunction or trauma and then being more vulnerable to that themselves in their adult relationships.

At times, readers will want to cringe at the sort of monsters and predators that prey upon young adolescents. At other times, they will applaud the strength and courage the author displays in freeing herself from such toxic relationships. Without a doubt, Dempsey has created a system through which those who are interested in ending a relationship with compassion and self-respect are provided in-depth scripts to anticipate anything the other person can say to try and make one stay. In reality, this text helps to take the blinders off relationships that have already been dead inside for far too long.

Interestingly, the author explores satisfaction and fulfillment in relationships from a multitude of relevant angles. Using research from reputed sources like behavior expert Beverly D. Flaxington, Dempsey highlights how both men and women arrive at their feelings of self-worth—or lack thereof—and often through misconstrued fallacies. One prime example is when a friend of the opposite sex will hug a spouse, and immediate thoughts of unfaithfulness or possessive behaviors confound the individual. While the individual is already insecure, he or she directly relates it to the action mentioned earlier.

At its core, Dempsey's guide forces the reader to reflect and ask probing questions that range from "What is good about staying?" to "What do I truly want?" Questions are proposed that have simmered in the individual's mind for days, months, or even years, and now they are given the platform to come out to the surface and be heard. Beyond asking questions, however, the author also presents methods and tools to reframe how one thinks about his or her relationship. Specifically, she dives into her section on "Unhealthy Thinking Traps" that zero in on common phrases and ideas like "blaming ourselves for something that isn't our fault." Often, the devastating cycle continues because of a lack of recognition and awareness and a sense of resignation that what the individual is going through is normal and will never change. Using both personal experiences and a psychologically driven argument such as "Personal-Boundary Abuse Disorder," Dempsey unlocks the potential for a freer future with proper boundaries for the individual.

In addition to the guide being expansive and ideal for any relationship type, it is stylistically appealing to all audiences as well. Not only does Dempsey provide personal experience and research to support her position, but she also has built-in handouts and exercises for the reader to get a complete and revealing experience about where their relationship, or "relationsh*t," stands. Imbued with compassion and empathy for the reader, Dempsey's narrative encourages readers to take accountability, explore their relationship with themselves, and embark on a path to self-love. Compelling to read and understand, Dempsey's work is a fitting reminder that even amidst the chaos of today's world, it is important to step back and recenter. It is a surefire must-read that is a gamechanger in the self-help genre.

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