Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Maybe you shouldn't...yet. Maybe.
My advice is the “love yourself, value yourself, leave them” that you get everywhere, but with a twist. I’ve been there, and here is what I wish someone had told me instead:
Stay as long as you like, but don’t get locked in.
Letting things happen organically has really been the technique that has best served me in life.
This concept in Eastern culture is called “Wu wei Wu”—Do by not doing. In the West, Adam Smith of Scotland called it “the Invisible Hand”. Throughout history people have noticed that things happen best when people are free. When they don’t force things, when they follow their heart and gut and do what comes natural.
So stay with this person you love so much, if that’s what your heart wants. For as long as you want and can. But don’t get locked in, because your gut knows.
My best advice comes from a book called “Who Moved My Cheese”: Put on your running shoes everyday. Because you and I both know that one day, organically, Wu wei Wu, by the Invisible Hand, will the pain outweigh the benefits, and *you* will be done.
So put on your running shoes and prepare everyday for when the door to your heart will *snick* shut. Reading the “dump toxic them now!” blogs might help you get in some of that mindset, might prepare your heart. But I would encourage you not to pressure yourself, guilt yourself, worry yourself, or rush yourself.
I have my own tips of things you can do while you enjoy the parts of the relationship that you treasure. I want you to enjoy them. I enjoyed mine. I stayed in a relationship that was incredibly painful because I experienced indescribable love I had never experienced before, growth I couldn’t have gotten otherwise, and all kinds of experiences that were a dream come true that I was not prepared to do alone and enjoyed more because of this person’s companionship (I meant for it to last forever, but part of me was always terrified of the end. Part of me knew).
They added a lot of meaning and magic to my life, when they weren’t absent or cruel. And I was NOT emotionally ready to let go. But the whole time, part of my heart was sitting back, wondering and waiting for what would be the final straw.
For some of you, this is a huge relief to hear. For others, even the idea of someday having to say good-bye to your person is more than you can bear. You would rather die than face life without them. You are sure you will never find someone like them again. I know because I’ve been there and I’ve felt those exact things too.
And yes, only they will ever be them, and only they were there with you for the experiences you shared.
But someday, it will be okay because someday, the pain will outweigh the benefits. And you will be ready.
Not because you made yourself leave before you really wanted to (a recipe to run back as soon as you have a weak moment/they apologize/a crisis happens/you feel guilty) but because that’s how it is.
I read ALOT of advice that says that you just have to do it. Cut them off cold turkey, no contact. Respect and love yourself enough and it will be easy.
And maybe for some people, it really is that simple.
I want to make something very clear first: what I am about to say applies only to situations where the other person is willing to be with you, and where you are not being sexually or financially abused.
In cases of any sexual or financial abuse, your life and very essence is at risk and the pain outweighs any so-called benefit by default.
It also does not apply to situations where the other person has cut *you* off.
If someone has dumped you, gone no contact on you, made it very clear they are done with you, DO NOT stalk, beg, keep calling, etc. You could get into legal trouble. You are embarrassing yourself. You are feeding their ego and at the same time, confirming that they made a great decision to dump such a crazy, desperate, co-dependent with no life of their own. I deeply regret the times I called and begged. It was humiliating and didn’t help. You can recover if you make this mistake, you should forgive yourself, but it really is best not to make the mistake in the first place.
Maybe what I am about to say is a water sign thing. I had a conversation with a Scorpio about this very thing. They were in a bad, emotionally rough relationship, and everyone was giving the same advice as usual: leave them, they’re no good for you, you’ll regret it, you deserve better, blah blah blah. I was in a similar situation and had been for a while. And we were talking about it and how we felt, and we both agreed: we didn’t like a lot of the way we were treated. We didn’t presume it would last forever (although maybe we hoped it would). Maybe we really didn’t love ourselves enough, but we were working on it. That’s a continual process anyway. But the biggest thing was: life was happening, right now. Our hearts still wanted something from that relationship, opportunities we didn’t yet know about.
Everyone says to trust your gut until you’re with someone they don’t like. We still felt that something would happen that only that relationship could give us. Some open door, some experience, some opportunity. We were right.
Sometimes it really isn’t better to be by yourself.
I had been alone for most of my life. This messed-up relationship helped me escape a terrible situation and grow in ways that were unfathomable. I’m not sure I could have discovered myself any other way.
As I mentioned before, I was messed up myself. A healthy self-actualized person would never have put up with me and would have been wise enough to immediately avoid me. I truly *couldn’t* do better at the time. And I got a lot of future-building experience.
Maybe you have had or are having a similar situation.
If you are dirt-poor broke, you are told that no job is beneath you because you need money. I don’t like that concept, and I don’t even entirely agree with it in today’s day and age, but there is a small kernel of truth there: you will probably have to suck it up and do a soul-sucking, painful, maybe even humiliating job for a while until you can find a way to scrabble out. It’s called a stop-gap job, a way to stop up the gap of poverty between the parts of your life where you are doing better.
It’s definitely part of the learning curve. Usually, our first employment experiences are like this.
For a lot of us who have self-relationship issues (many deeply rooted in a unhealthy childhood full of trauma), we go through stop-gap relationships too.
What do you do when you can’t quit someone (yet), but kind of want to (but kind of want it to last forever)?
1.) Try to look at your actions objectively. This can be super hard, especially at first, so you may want to record your arguments/fights/bad times on a microphone or write down exactly what happened, as unbiased as possible, immediately afterwards.
Look at their accusations. There may indeed be some serious issues that you need to work on. There were for me. It turns out that I had traits from no less than *3* personality disorders/adaptations! This did raise some awareness.
There are 2 things to do next:
(1.) Do start working on yourself. Do start realizing your motivations for what you do—this will at least help you catch yourself the next time you start to act out.
It will take some practice to break habits, but you can only do your best, and that is enough! I highly recommend taking personality tests like the Meyers-Brigg and the Enneagram so that you can see where your point of view (and things that you don’t even realize you do differently from everyone else) comes from, and also what attractive traits you bring to the table!
If you come from a dysfunctional home, or if you have always had rocky or non-existent relationships (humankind seems to be speaking it’s own foreign language), I highly recommend the work of Dr. Elinor Greenberg. She taught me more about my relationship troubles than anyone else.
Use this knowledge and practice to put your own emotional and behavioral house in order. An emotionally solvent person is emotionally professional in all kinds of situations. This is very appealing to the right kinds of people who would have the kind of relationship you want to have, with you.
(2.) At the same time, don’t forget that it isn’t ALL you. Remember, a healthy, self-actualized, independently happy person does not verbally, emotionally, or physically abuse EVER. They do not blame and shame constantly. They do not pin everything on you without exception (so that you are constantly running around trying to fix yourself and get distracted from their part).
They are not unhelpful and unempathetic. They don’t twist things back on you when you try to share your feelings and justify their abuse as “a defense” to beat you down and put you in your place (under control). They are not so arrogant that they think they get to decide how hurtful their actions were. These are (believe it or not), not the only reactions a person can have towards you.
Good people do question their responses. They can listen to how you felt with patience and at least attempt to see your point of view. They empathize and make a real effort to help the different kinds of troubles you are facing; they don’t expect to be in a relationship where you face life alone until it’s time to pleasure them. There isn’t a foreman-serf dynamic.
They are not threatened by another point of view. They can be calm, patient, and understanding after the heat of the moment has died down—not dig in their heels for dear life while further demeaning you. They admit to places where they could have done better because their worth is not tied to an impossible standard of perfection. They will help come up with a better way to handle things in the future—not pretend everything was perfect until *you* had to ruin it with *your* problem.
They can avoid comparing you to people you don’t like. It would be as unnatural a response to verbally or emotionally abuse and manipulate you as to jump off a building to try to fly to the moon. They are far more likely to gently and maturely remove themselves from the relationship without the need to get in a last degrading jab tirade.
2.) Don’t tie your worth to what they say about you, good or bad. This can be SO DIFFICULT for those of us raised in a controlling environment where the authority figure was god-like, but practice self-object-constancy: What others think and do is them. What you think and do is you.
You were entrusted with a human body and a will of your own for a reason, and it wasn’t to see how good you are at being beaten down and being as robot-like, punishing, and empty as possible (despite what your religious upbringing might have taught you).
Try to see yourself from an outside perspective. What would you think if a stranger acted the way you are behaving? Adjust accordingly.
Judge by actions, not someone’s hot air that can change on a whim. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Yes, you can be gratified that someone praised you for a job well done. Yes, you can want to do better when someone criticizes you. But don’t EVER put the worth of your essence on their opinion. Believe in yourself.
3.) Internalize and practice the relationship areas where you excel.
If you are a tireless cheerleader and pamperer, really relish that beautiful part of you. Don’t shut that part down if it is unappreciated or unreciprocated. Practice for when it will be!
If you are adventurous and exciting and novel-seeking and daring, live it up! And if you have weak areas, or weak areas are pointed out to you, really make an effort to change those bits. I loved to go out and do things but had a bad habit (modeled to me in my formative years) of either hiding my joy, or getting upset, or ruining it with a fight. I had a good, eager heart, but also a self-sabotaging specter. Self-awareness (mentioned above) helps with this, as do self-hypnosis, E.F.T., etc.