How Do You Know When to Walk Away?
Over the summer, I had a conversation with a girl I had only known as an acquaintance. We got into a pretty deep discussion about the idea of limits. She was trying to decipher when she was going to leave her boyfriend who she loved so much, but felt he was not treating her the way she desired (or deserved).
After explaining her situation to me, she let out a big hopeless sigh and asked, “When do I know it’s time to walk away?”
I looked at her, not with pity, sorrow, or sympathy. But instead, with belief. And I said this:
“If you’re still with him, it means you’re not done yet. It means you still have something left to give, and you love him enough to give it to him. So stay.”
She looked a little confused, hopeful almost, for more. Luckily, there was. Then I said this:
“But if you already see the end coming, chances are it’s coming. One day you’ll wake up and have nothing left to give him. Not in a bad way, and certainly not in terms of weakness. You’ll just be really done with him and the relationship and you’ll want better for yourself. Then, you’ll go get whatever that is.”
Two things about relationships:
It’s rarely ever the break up itself as much as it is the after effects. That’s why we get mad and dump our partners in the heat of the moment; only to rush back to them in a snotty hurry after the split up has just begun to settle in.
The relationship itself teaches us things about ourselves that we didn’t know. Sometimes finding these things out results in us and our partners being incompatible, and yet still we force our way into each other’s lives and wonder what the problem is.
The truth is that people just need to smarten up and bring their expectations back down to earth. We can’t measure emotional circumstances by time. We can’t put a deadline on when, wait for the clock to strike a certain hour before we leave, or threaten people that won’t change not because they can’t, but because they don’t want to.
It sounds simple because it is really simple. The only thing that’s confusing about it is our emotions, and emotions will always confuse, misguide, and redirect us. But you find that equilibrium between your brain, your heart, and your gut, and you feel it out and follow it.
Don’t go comparing the new people that enter your life to the last one you had; they’ll never be the same. One might have terrible rhythm but amazing communication skills. One might not have the best sex but will do it so passionately that you’re mesmerized anyway.
As time goes on, you will learn.
You’ll learn about love, you’ll learn about life, you’ll learn things about your present partner, and you’ll probably come to understand things about your past partners that for one reason or another, you just couldn’t understand at the time.
But most of all, you’ll learn about yourself.
You’ll learn about who you really are. As close as you get to knowing, you never really know. You’re always growing and changing and evolving and opening up to life. You’ll find out what you like and what you don’t like, what you need and what you desire. The more you accomplish, the higher you’ll set the bar for yourself.
And you might even learn, as I have so many times, that after all this time, it wasn’t you.
It wasn’t your standards. No, they weren’t too high. It wasn’t that you couldn’t love him or her. It wasn’t that you weren’t good enough. It was never a matter of you two being soul mates, as opposed to two souls that just met and mated.
It was just that him, her, them and they just were not ready yet.
But maybe, you weren’t ready either.
Trust your experiences.
But more importantly, trust your gut. If there is still love and will in your heart, use it all up until there isn’t any left. And when you’re tank is all empty, go everywhere to fill it. New classes, new people, new hobbies, new alone time, new music, new writing, new books, and the list just goes on and on and on.
But never, ever, become a new you, before you try building on the foundation that was already there.
Because chances are, that foundation will fit perfectly with the life you have in store, which you will, just by grace, end up in, so long as you trust the process.