EMOTIONALLY RIDE-OR-DIE: HOW TO END A RELATIONSHIP YOU JUST CAN’T QUIT--AND START LIVING AGAIN


Three People On An Adventure Ride In The Back Of A Jeep During Golden Hour

What does it mean to be “ride-or-die”? It is co-dependency at it’s worst. Wikipedia defines ride-or-die as: “someone willing to support their partner and the partner’s risky lifestyle despite how much this might endanger or harm.”


This kind of relationship is an extreme case of a sunk cost.


A sunk cost is a cost that is non-recuperable, and is usually more costly and illogical to continue to pursue than not:


"Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort) (Arkes & Blumer, 1985). This fallacy, which is related to loss aversion and status quo bias, can also be viewed as bias resulting from an ongoing commitment.
For example, individuals sometimes order too much food and then over-eat just to 'get their money’s worth'. Similarly, a person may have a $20 ticket to a concert and then drive for hours through a blizzard, just because she feels that she has to attend due to having made the initial investment. If the costs outweigh the benefits, the extra costs incurred (inconvenience, time or even money) are held in a different mental account than the one associated with the ticket transaction (Thaler, 1999)."

--BehavioralEconomics.com


Unfortunately, the temptation to continue throwing good emotional money after bad is strong for so many reasons.


WHY WE KEEP INVESTING EMOTIONALLY

We Don’t Want To Be “Quitters”:


How many times have you read those “Quitters never win, winners never quit” so-called inspirational posters that they like to post around institutions (usually the kind of institutions you would love nothing better than to indeed quit).


What those posters don’t tell you is that it is impossible to “quit” as long as you are alive. As Esther Hicks put it, “You can’t get it wrong because you never get it done.”

In other words, you are winning if you take one more step. It doesn’t have to be a step in the same direction you have been going, if that direction has been to your emotional and energetic detriment.


You CAN take back your emotional and energetic escrow. It’s as easy as no longer being sucked dry to the point of being a “quitter” on yourself.


We Don’t Have Anywhere Else To Go:


Maybe we just have no life of our own, and we’ve made this relationship / situation not only our emotional home but our world, our purpose, our only (warped) sense of self.


Sometimes it is a matter of extreme practicality. Sometimes, we literally / physically have nowhere else to turn. We have no other friends, no other family, no physical (or emotional, or mental, or financial) support. We have no skills, no practice in self-soothing, and homelessness is unbearably bleak.


For most of my life, I felt unwanted. I was in an emotionally abusive situation and I had nowhere else to go. I was too scared to run away because I knew I would fail at that too. I would pray fervently every night before falling asleep to die because it was all I could do. I was scared of botching my own suicide and making things even worse for myself (or going to my cult’s promised eternal punishment for people who killed themselves).


I was too depressed, neurotic, and beaten down to take any actionable steps up and out.


So.many.times we feel we have no other options. We’ve been trained to be helpless. There is no guarantee that anything would get better. Any time we ever tried to escape, we’ve always had to do the walk of shame right back.


We Need To Be Right About Something For Once:


When you have been infantilized and shamed your whole life, every decision you *DO* manage to make on your own becomes a matter of life and death for your ego.


This is *finally* your chance to be not only validated but vindicated--to prove to everyone (and most of all, yourself) that you are indeed capable of making your own decisions, that you are finally deserving of agency, and that you aren’t a failure when left to your own devices.


You *need* to not only feel your autonomy is a right, not a privilege, but that you--and not the domineering decision-makers and narcissistic advice-pushers in your life--are the BEST person to be in charge of YOU.


Making a mistake, having to backtrack, or re-evaluating in light of experience is crippling when, instead of the hands-on growth we are all entitled to, it means re-assuming the perpetual dunce cap in front of all the cruel internal and external voices who always ALWAYS bet on our failure and get to tell us, “We told you so.”


We then no longer feel justified in asserting ourselves and our own will. Losing face means status-cide: we will be back to being inferior to toxic family / friend “superiors” who always “know better”.


Re-routing (in lieu of unquestioningly attempting to follow the conflicting demands of those cruel internal and external voices) gets treated the same as failure. And so, in a last-ditch effort to stave off merciless, paralyzing self-doubt...we stick it out, no matter how miserable we may be.


It’s a bad decision, but at least it is OUR OWN decision.


It’s Just Too Embarrassing. And Painful:


Even in the most supportive circles, we can inflate the couldas / wouldas / shouldas with far more importance than they should ever have. We listen too much to ego and forget that nothing is wasted on our Golden Path. Instead, we disallow *ourselves* to correct our mistakes by pretending we didn’t make one (even though, in the back of our mind, we know we did).


Why?


Because we can’t get past caring what *hypothetical* people (or the cruel shamers in our heads) might think or say. It’s too painful to face because if we were this wrong about *this*....what else might we be wrong about? It’s just too much, and we already feel fragile, shaken, and down.


SO HOW CAN WE GO FROM EMOTIONALLY RIDE-OR-DIE TO RUN-AND-LIVE? HOW CAN WE MOVE ON FROM RELATIONSHIPS AND LIFESTYLES THAT ARE KILLING US?

IT STARTS WITH YOU:

Other people or situations may make it seem like you are powerless or outright non-existant outside of them, but as long as you have a mind and will, you have the potential for agency. A potential that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t meant to become in-fact. That is YOUR gift, one that doesn’t belong to anyone else, and one that gives you value.


THE MIND THAT ALTERS, ALTERS ALL:

You MUST cultivate 2 things, without which you will forever be trapped. Without these two things, you can’t have your own back and you’ll never have the benefits of reality (instead of a lopsided nightmare where you can never get your emotional footing because it flips a 180 in the blink of an eye).


It may be one of the most difficult things you ever do (trust me--I've been there), but you MUST reprogram your mind to be able to see the positives AND negatives AT THE SAME TIME of someone, something, some situation.


You must learn to be balanced and *objective* even when very, VERY triggered and emotional.


I used to live in a contradictory world where everything was ALL good or ALL bad at any given moment, depending on how I felt and depending on who I had given my emotional reins to. And unsurprisingly, I was an out-of-control wreck who couldn’t trust or appreciate anything or anyone. I had no hope because although the highs (and PEDESTALS that I put people on) were HIGH, they only lasted a second before crashing to a complete and total low.


The technical term is “whole object relations”. Look, the word “objective” is practically built right in. When you can be more objective, you put more space between you and the issue at hand. And in that space, you can not only take things less personally, but you can also assess anything you have going in your favor. You can also realize that “that this too shall pass”. Pain or pleasure, it isn’t here to stay. In this way, you can create stability amidst the instability with some grounded preparation.


The other must-have is object constancy. Doctor Elinor Greenberg explains that “Object constancy is the ability to maintain your positive feelings for someone while you are feeling hurt, angry, frustrated, or disappointed with their behavior. Without object constancy, every fight becomes a potential breakup.”


It’s being able to remember that there is more going on than what you see or feel this instant. I can’t tell you how many times I nuked relationships because the instant I felt unloved, every positive memory vaporized. Every disagreement became a war where there was only bitterness on my end.


I got crazy-labelled because I earned it (and earned it...and earned it).


Yes, we should live in the present, but you can live *TOO MUCH* in the present. If you hang your coat in the closet, you know it’s there, even if you go into another room. If you book a vacation, you know it’s coming, even though you haven’t taken it yet.


And you have to know that you have worth, even if you don’t feel it RIGHT NOW.


ACCEPT YOUR HUMANITY AND HUMAN LIMITATIONS:

It’s just a fact of life: without omniscience (which NONE of us gets), you will indeed find it necessary to re-route on some of your decisions; sometimes the sooner, the better. How much damage control do you want to have to do later? It’s up to you.


REALIZE THE COSTS: