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If you clicked on this article for yourself, then please take this as a sign that you are wanting to leave whatever relationship caused you to click the title. Nothing that I or anyone says can change the intuitive feeling that something is not right.
Yes it will suck. But it would suck more to wait another year just to make the same decision that you are contemplating making now. It will be a hard process as the closer you get to pulling the trigger and leaving, the more reasons you will have to stay.
That is fear talking. Fear of change and fear of regret. Trying something new is terrifying, it always feels safer to stay put in a comfortable rut. Please remember, you have made it this far in life, navigating all the hurdles, losses and change that has come your way. When we consider leaving a relationship, we are instantly reminded of all the good things that we will lose and we subsequently forget why we were considering leaving in the first place.
Typically, we don’t leave until it becomes so bad that the truth of the situation is truly undeniable. However, by then, we have been beaten down and are broken by the relationship’s turn for the worse. Our confidence levels are shattered and we may have the symptoms of a plethora of mental afflictions – we are anxious about the future and depressed about ourselves. Our self-worth drops so low that we feel like staying is the right option because ‘they are the best someone like me could get’ or ‘at least I am lucky enough to have someone’.
Don’t wait any longer, if you are considering leaving them, do so. Leave while you have some part of your strength left. Leave while you still know who you are and what you stand for. Leave before you are engulfed by their toxicity.
In my opinion, this mindset should be applied to all relationships: romantic, familial, friendship and in the workplace. If it doesn’t feel right, or if I have doubts about it, I am quick to end it. I no longer want to waste my time and mental health on cultivating relationships with people who are no good for me. In the past, these kinds of relationships have cost me far too much and I am not willing to pay that price again.
The problem is that we all seem to have an innate reaction that ending a relationship is a ‘bad thing’. Whenever we hear the news of a couple breaking up, a friendship ending, or somebody leaving a job (whether voluntarily or involuntarily), we are sad for those involved and we want to make it right again. We want the relationship to be rekindled.
But why? Why do we react to that news as a bad thing?
I admit, ending a relationship hurts. The concept of ‘heartbroken’ aptly describes what we are all capable of feeling. But from my experience, that pain is temporary. Over time it dissipates as we forge new relationships and begin to detach from the emotion of the moment. We are capable of healing and as we establish new connections, love returns.
Whilst the suffering is clearly something that we want to see reduced, there is something more that we need to consider. There is a reason that the relationship ended, and continuing on with it could cause a whole other type of suffering, one that is significantly more detrimental to the mental health of those involved.
What is worse? The ending of a relationship or of the relationship going on for far too long?
This doesn’t just apply to abusive relationships, but relationships in general. If you are unhappy and you stay with someone beyond a healthy time, there is a very real risk of developing resentment for them. The cute foibles and nuances of their manner become anger inducing annoyances. Their loving concern for your wellbeing becomes overbearing control. Small things become major issues as plans for your shared future starts to feel more and more like plans to imprison you.
The same is true for work. If you are not excited about it, if it does not bring you joy or align with your values, what’s the point? Money can be made in other ways. If you add to that a toxic relationship with your boss or co-workers - you are in line for a midlife crisis, where in twenty years you realise that you need a change, that the promotion no longer matters and that your health and happiness is worth more than an extra zero on your pay check.
A saying that helps me to put all of my relationships into perspective points out that ‘relationships either end in death or break up’. Whilst this realisation feels initially depressing, it is actually quite liberating. Every relationship: friends, work and romantic will all end in one of those ways. Either they will be there for the rest of my life, or they won’t.
For those that will stay, I want to cultivate the relationship and ensure that we are good for each other. But for those that will leave on bad terms, they may as well be gone as soon as possible. It is better for all involved that way.
So what’s making you stay?
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