How Do You Know When It’s Time To Leave?
Last week I talked about moving on from a dissolved friendship/relationship, but today I want to back track a little bit and touch on knowing when it’s time to cut ties with someone. Whether it be a friendship or a relationship with a partner, we often hold onto toxic relationships longer than we should. Usually out of fear of being alone, but sometimes it also deals with us confusing years together, with loyalty. Just because you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, doesn’t necessarily mean that person is really on your team or has your best interests in mind. Same thing with a relationship. Just because someone has “stuck with you” for a while doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the one. Most of the time these people are either just as scared of being alone as you are, they don’t want to be the bad guy in the situation, or they are gaining something from keeping you around. Ultimately, you must decide for yourself whether you think someone should remain in your life or not. So how do you do this logically?
The first step is to WAKE UP. Stop dismissing everything or convincing yourself you’re just overreacting. You probably aren’t. Especially if it’s a recurring thought/problem. I agree with picking your battles -to an extent-, but don’t keep quiet about something that really bothers you. Address it. If the person blows you off or tries to turn it around on you or does anything to make you feel like they aren’t taking you seriously, that’s a pretty good indication of how little they care. If what you’re addressing is reasonable (you know deep down whether it actually is or not) and someone doesn’t even care to hear you out or apologize or ask how they can avoid upsetting you in the future, then they don’t care whether they do or not because they either aren’t that concerned about keeping your friendship/relationship or they think you’re a pushover who will just forgive them because you most likely have in the past. This is not acceptable and should not be treated as such. Someone who values you and cares about you isn’t going to try to manipulate you into thinking nothing is wrong or that you’re overreacting. They won’t want to continue upsetting you and will try to make things right. Also, them saying things like “Oh, I’m sorry that I’m such a terrible friend/person” or “I’m so sorry I make your life so much worse” is them trying to manipulate you into feeling guilty for trying to address the problem. This is also a very immature way for them to dismiss your feelings that also allows them to go on without acknowledging their hurtful behavior or suffering any consequences for their actions. Stand your ground, but also, people like this typically suck, so if they have no desire to take responsibility for their actions, cut them loose. Your unwillingness to let them continue taking advantage of you will speak volumes. It also feels really good to stand up for yourself.
The second thing you need to ask yourself is “Does this person add value to my life?” This is your life and these are your relationships so, you’re allowed to be selfish here. That doesn’t mean you can just take and take without giving in return. While no one should expect any kind of favor in return for doing something for a friend/partner, you as their friend/partner, should want to, to show your gratitude towards them. It doesn’t have to be right then and there, but when the opportunity presents itself, I feel you should do something to show you have their back the way they had yours. If you find that this person has no interest in your life and what you’re trying to accomplish and it’s becoming more work just to keep the relationship alive, it’s probably best to cut ties for your own well-being. No relationship is perfect and you’ll eventually have things you both have to work on, but you shouldn’t question whether someone wants to be a part of your life and the relationship as a whole should not be constant work. That’s something unhappy people tell themselves and the people around them to feel less guilty about staying in their own unhappy relationship. If you feel you are fighting to hang on almost every day and things aren’t getting any better or they only get better temporarily before going right back to the way they were, it’s time to walk away. If the bad outweighs the good, it’s time to walk away. If you are the only one putting forth any effort to save the relationship, it’s time to walk way. And do not even get me started on “staying together for the kids.” This is quite possibly the most ridiculous excuse I have ever heard for staying in a relationship. I know some of you are thinking “well she doesn’t have kids so, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” You’re right, I don’t have kids, but I also don’t have to have kids to know I’m right about this. Especially since I’m having to go through my own parents’ divorce now at almost 27. My parents fought all the time growing up and I was honestly made to believe that was okay in a relationship because they would always cover it up and say it wasn’t that big of a deal and that they were fine, when they clearly were not. It would have been much easier on my brother and I had they split when we were younger so we could’ve all had time to process everything. Now it’s just a flat-out mess. To the point where my mother and I have not spoken in months and I have no desire to make any contact with her whatsoever. This could happen to you as well. If you aren’t happy in your relationship, you aren’t going to be happy in your life and you will begin to project that onto your children. You will end up hurting them 100xs more by lying to them and staying in an unhappy relationship, so no, you aren’t staying together for the kids and deep down, you know you aren’t. The truth is, neither one of you wants to go through the work of having to start over with your own individual lives, especially when you are comfortably living in a two-income household. Being miserable makes things financially easier on both of you and that’s typically what people associate with “making sacrifices” for their children, when in reality you’re just prolonging the inevitable. Things will not get better and you will not magically grow to love one another again (if you ever did). Things will only get worse and you will both grow to resent each other. Some of you may say “oh well my parents stayed together and they were able to find that spark again” and while that may be true, it also may be a giant lie they have not only told you and your siblings, but they could also be lying to themselves to try and trick themselves into thinking they are happy to make life easier. I thought my parents were better than they had ever been after my dad’s stroke. He did too. Apparently, he was the only one while the other faked it all. I also remember after my divorce I had not one, not two, but THREE men from my past (all of which were married at the time) text me within a week’s time span to tell me they missed me and were already unhappy in their marriages and were asking about my divorce process. One already had children and the other two each had children on the way soon after. All of which stayed in their relationships. All of which shortly failed or they ended up cheating on their significant other with someone else, or both. I honestly didn’t feel bad for any of them though because I told them I wasn’t comfortable with them sending me these kinds of messages when they were married, but also that if they were this unhappy now, it’ probably was not going to get better and to get out while they could. None of them did of course and none of them had happy endings with those relationships. It’s almost sad how many married men I have blocked because they just wouldn’t leave me alone. Why does anyone do this? Why stay married if you’re going to try to talk to other people/potentially cheat? If you’re unhappy, leave. Forcing a relationship that does not want to be will not benefit a single person in that equation. If you can’t afford to live on your own yet, then the two of you need to come to an understanding that you will figure it out until you are both financially stable enough to stand on your own. Start a new savings account. Get a second job or better yet, try for a raise or a promotion at your current job (if one is available, obviously). Cut back on excess spending. Downsize. Clean out your attic and have a yard sale. Do whatever it takes to get ahead and to be able to support yourself and your children. These are the REAL sacrifices you should be making. Not being dependent on a second income. I have learned the hard way that there is absolutely zero positive outcome to not being self-sufficient. It’s not about being pessimistic, it’s about being realistic. It doesn’t matter how much you think you love someone, life is unpredictable. People change. Things go wrong. Being prepared doesn’t mean you already have it in your mind that your relationship won’t work or that you’re setting yourself up for failure, it just means you aren’t going to be put in a tough position if it doesn’t work out. 1 in 4 marriages end in divorce and people entering their second or third marriage have a 75% chance of getting divorced again. This to me says that if you aren’t 110% sure about your relationship with someone, you should not get married. Even if you think you are, you need to think long and hard before deciding to have children if neither of you would be able to support yourself and your children on your own income alone. That is a human life. A very expensive human life. Do not think having a child will make someone stay. If it does, it won’t be for you. Do not make your children suffer because you chose to be naïve in your relationship. Start over while everyone is still young, so you can all get on with your lives.
The third and final thing you need to ask yourself is “Am I actually happy?” Or “Is this as good as it gets?” If your response isn’t something along the lines of “there’s no way it could get any better,” you need to ask yourself why that is. Why aren’t you as happy as you could be? Why do you hope that it will get better? I remember constantly thinking to myself “Is this really it? Is this happy? Is this supposed to be what I’m okay with for the rest of my life?” I would get really down knowing I was going to be married to someone who I had to question every day if he even wanted to be with me. I never felt secure in my relationship. I never felt reassured. I never felt like I was enough. I am here to tell you that for the right person, you will be enough and they will not make you question that. Do not think for a second that you have to settle for anyone. There will always be something better out there, than unhappy. I spent years just going back to the same flings because my insecurity with myself was so deep rooted that I never thought I was going to get any better. The more attractive a guy was, the worse he could treat me because in my head, I already wasn’t attractive enough to even land someone like that, so I had to put up with their crap so I wouldn’t lose them. I didn’t care how they made me feel as long as they showed me the slightest bit of attention. I just didn’t want to be alone. That is no way to live. Growing up I wasn’t really taught that I could do anything or be anything I wanted. I was constantly told to marry rich. My own mother didn’t believe that I would ever amount to anything, so I needed to take the easy way out. I remembered just cringing every time she said that because I couldn’t fathom being with someone I wasn’t even remotely interested in. Anytime we would discuss someone who kept going back to an unhealthy relationship, I would always question how someone could talk so negatively about a partner and then just keep going back to them and the response was usually “oh well, he’s got money” or “she’ll be fine, his family is rich.” Money over happiness, always. I grew up believing I was disposable at any given moment, so I had to do whatever it took to stay pure while also altering everything about myself to be the kind of girl a rich man would want to marry. Basically, a trophy-wife in training. None of this had anything to do with my own father though. He’s pretty much the total opposite. While yes, both of my parents did put a lot of emphasis on being physically fit, my dad just isn’t the kind of person who would make someone change something about themselves to fit his ideals. That’s not authentic and he is one of the realest people I know, he just wasn’t aware of what really went on while I was growing up so there wasn’t really anyting being done to put a stop to it. I spent most of my life thinking I was never going to be good enough for anyone. I had always been cheated on so I thought as long as the person doing the cheating was attractive or had money, it wouldn’t be as bad. I believed that I was never going to find someone who actually wanted to be with me, but who just tolerated me. If I could find someone willing to tolerate being with me who I was attracted to, I’d be okay staying in a toxic relationship. Most people who stay in unhealthy relationships, do so because they do not value themselves. It’s a mental battle that is not easily won, but when you know your worth, you don’t have time to entertain that kind of mistreatment. You won’t think twice about cutting someone off who is just wasting your time or who doesn’t treat you the way you know you deserve to be treated. Looks are nothing if you can’t make your partner feel secure and loved. Stop placing your value of yourself on your relationship status. People say the most important thing in life is love, but you can’t fool yourself into believing you’ve found it if deep down you know you haven’t. Even after everything I’ve been through, I still believe in real connections that lead to love that is unmatched. I know it’s out there. Don’t imprison yourself. Don’t waste your time on relationships that aren’t going anywhere. Stop stressing out about your age or feeling like you’re running out of time. The longer you wait, the more secure you will be with yourself and your relationship. Don’t commit to someone unless you not only know, but can feel that they care about you as much as you do about them. Don’t stop until you find that person that makes you want to be your best self because that’s what you both deserve. Wait for the person who doesn’t want to slack off and who constantly keeps you on your toes. Don’t give in until you find that person that you absolutely cannot live without. Never give up on the hope that you will find true happiness, and it will fall in your lap when you least expect it.