Okay, real talk… considering the fact that I just left a 3+ year relationship, this post is almost a little too relevant haha. But seeing as I started this blog to share my life with you all, it would feel wrong to not talk about the biggest, most difficult decision I’ve had to make, thus far. So, instead of sweeping it under the rug, I’m gonna get real with you about it…
Less than two months ago, I walked away from a relationship with a guy I had been with since I was 17 years old. Neither of us did anything “wrong”. He didn’t cheat on me. He wasn’t an asshole. In fact, he was not only my boyfriend but one of the best friends I’d ever had. Our relationship looked pretty perfect on paper. We had our future totally mapped out, everything from marriage to our house and kids… and even now, I still love, admire and care for him deeply. So you’re probably rightly wondering: “why break-up?”
Truth is, that’s the same question I asked myself, all too often. Have you ever been in a state of ambivalence in a relationship where you just don’t know if the two of you fit together or not? You know that you’re not completely happy but you don’t know if you’ll be any happier alone. You’re living with a constant dilemma – the choice of either leaving and going on the search for something truly fulfilling (which you might not even find) OR sticking it out, accepting that what you have is good enough but always wondering “what if”. Both options being equally as heartbreaking.
The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
Ambivalence is that grey area where you are not actually in the relationship, but you don’t leave it either. It robs you of positivity, intimacy, hopefulness and ultimately – happiness. It’s a truly awful place to be. And it’s a place I allowed myself to sit in, far too long. I’m not going to go into deep detail about why we broke up, in this post. However, I will share some of the crucial questions I asked myself in the lead up to the break-up. If like me, you’ve found yourself in a deadly state of indecision… I hope these questions help to up your self-awareness levels and allow you to make the seemingly impossible decision, a little more possible…
1.) Have I put my own hopes, dreams and interests on the backburner?
There’s a huge reason that this is #1 for me. I believe that a life void of purpose and vision… isn’t a life worth living. All relationships require some level of compromise but I don’t think your dreams and goals should come into play here. If one or both of you have to sacrifice what you truly want in life, to keep the relationship together… ask yourself this: “will my soul ever be truly happy, if I stay?”
2.) Do I feel as though my ‘natural self’ is all kinds of wrong?
Having your partner expect certain things from you that fall into the “never gonna happen, that ain’t me” realm can make you miserable. If you’re a natural introvert and constantly feeling pressure to be a social butterfly at his friend’s get-togethers, and he has no interest in a cosy movie night at home… a harmonious union isn’t exactly realistic.
3.) Do I like who I am in the relationship?
Do you feel more “you” around your friends than your partner? Ask yourself how long can you keep this up for, and whether actually becoming this relationship alter ego is what you want (because take it from me – that has a way of happening). You don’t want to be with anyone who makes you less than your best self, your favourite self.
4.) Am I constantly irritated for no reason?
Let’s face it: You don’t care that much about the way they chew their food or the fact they forgot to pick up milk on the way home. What you’re yelling on the inside when you’re frustrated with your partner is much deeper than that. You’re irritated because they aren’t satisfying your expectations and needs in general. You’re irritated because you’re unhappy with your life.
5.) Does something just feel “off”?
Your intuition is the best indicator for the end of your relationship. Even if you can’t pinpoint exactly what isn’t right, it’s time to believe your instincts. Trust your gut. Trust your gut. TRUST your gut. I can’t say that enough.
6.) Am I waiting for someone better to come along, to avoid heartbreak?
Before you pull the trigger on your current relationship, you want to find someone else. Then you’ll avoid the hellish pain of heartbreak because you’ll be so absorbed in your new relationship, right? Wrong. Eventually, the hurt does catch up to you, and when it does, you are left dealing with the emotional distress of six breakups rather than just one. This is awful in so many ways. Plus, not only is grieving healthy, it’s an amazing opportunity to grow as a person.
7.) Am I worried I’ll never find anyone better?
I think we ALL worry about this, both pre and post breakup. But here’s the truth: if you are remaining in a relationship with somebody solely because you are afraid you won’t find somebody better, you will find somebody better. Because let’s be honest: You can do a whole lot better than staying in a relationship for that. When you’ve been with someone for years, it’s easy to forget how small this moment is in the big scheme of things. The reality is that there are MILLIONS of different people all around you, you haven’t even met yet. If you are open to meeting new people, doors will open for you.
8.) Do I feel as if I’ve changed and grown in a different direction from my partner?
Sometimes it’s as simple as this: you’ve changed. It’s completely normal to be a different person at 23 than you were at 17. If you grew up with each other, chances are you have become a part of each other’s identities but that doesn’t mean you’ve grown together. Some relationships run their natural courses and weren’t meant to last and others end because you simply outgrew them.
9.) And the biggie: Am I just scared to leave that which is familiar?
When you’ve spent an extended amount of time with someone, naturally they begin to feel like home to you. Experiencing this level of comfort with another person is a beautiful thing but it makes the thought of leaving all the more unimaginable and unbearable. Even if we’re unhappy, we’ll settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change. But when we know it’s time, we must throw ourselves from the nest – from home, from our comfort zones – in the faith that we will always remember how to fly alone.
“It can be difficult to leave a long-term relationship, even when our inner wisdom tells us it’s time to let go. At this point, we can choose let go and endure the intense pain of leaving behind the familiar to make way for a new chapter in our life. Or we can stay and suffer a low-grade pain that slowly eats away at our heart and soul, like an emotional cancer. Until we wake up, one day and realise, we are buried so deep in the dysfunction of the relationship that we scarcely remember who we were and what we wanted and needed to be.” ― Jaeda DeWalt
Coming to the conclusion that a relationship isn’t working, doesn’t make you (or them) a bad person. If anything, you’re more mature for knowing when to call it quits instead of dragging things out, further preventing you, and him, from true happiness. After all, you went into this because you loved and cared for one another. That doesn’t have to change, even if your relationship does.