And what’s not
So. One of the big questions we have — I certainly have, and I think many other people have — is “how much to endure.”
Like, what’s reasonable? Where do we draw the line in the sand? Are we being too giving; too generous? Or not generous enough? Yielding too little, or too much? Demanding enough, demanding too much, not demanding nearly enough?
I wonder all the time whether I’m being a push-over or an asshole — and frankly, I think we all can be both, at different moments. But it can be hard to discern.
Relationships are complicated. Because people are complicated.
Making decisions around what to do, especially when things get rough, is one of the hardest parts of dating others. We all have a default response — stick it out or bail — and we all have experiences where we push our limits too far in the other direction and get burned. And it’s hard to know.
My natural response is to fold. It’s not the right path — I’m not trying to say it is — but I can admit that it’s what I do. I dated a guy who convinced me a path to growth was to go all-in, to get pot-committed and try, so I did. I stuck it out. I stood and received him when he got mad. I listened, I acknowledged, I validated, I apologized and took responsibility and changed. In short: I stuck it out. I tried. I gave.
And as it turned out, dude was totally toxic. But I didn’t know.
Because so often, we don’t know. We don’t have any idea what’s okay or not okay. We don’t know where that line is to stay or leave.
There are many different kinds of love. No two people are the same, and no two relationships are the same, and there’s no “best and right” model to assign to everyone across the board.
But there is a distinction between those that contribute to a healthy, balanced relationship and life, and those that don’t. And despite what we’ve all been told, and despite the desperation and love we may feel in our hearts, there are certain kinds of love not worth fighting for.
Yes, love is patient and love is kind, but occasionally what feels like — and we want to believe is — “love” becomes controlling and cruel.
The concept that the only “real” kind of love is steady, simple and passionate is a misconception at best and damaging at worst — it’s an ideal, perhaps, but also something that leaves us at risk of perceiving anything less than “perfect” as something that isn’t “love.” Which leaves us at risk of a pretty hollow and lonely life. Because, as mentioned, people are imperfect. And so of course we are in relationships as well.
But learning how to recognize the downfalls and difficulties in your relationship, and differentiating between a.) those you can fix, b.) those you can’t, and c.) those you are willing to put up with. Only then can you make an enlightened decision on what is best for you.
Our fear of letting go is valid. No matter how badly you are being treated, it still hurts like hell to leave. No matter how monotonous and uninspiring the relationship, it will still feel impossible to replace. You will still miss them long after you’re gone, regardless of the circumstances of your departure.
Comfort is a highly motivational thing.
And the predictability and routine and sameness that comes with comfort is completely normal — and okay.
What’s not okay is abuse — from you or them. What’s not okay is being toxic, or manipulative, or resentful or hateful or contemptuous or deliberately cruel. Not even once.
And these things don’t mean you have to fold — we’re all a little mean, from time to time — but it does mean we should work to show our partners more grace and kindness and compassion. Not just when it’s good, but when it’s ugly.
And the reason to leave is not if we see things you don’t like, but if we share our feelings around these things and don’t see improvement. If our partner puts on a good show and then goes right back to their old ways in the moment that matters most — for me, when they’re mad — then that’s something to look at. And that’s really the defining line.
It’s not problems. It’s the way we handle them — us and our partners alike. It’s worth fighting for if they’re fighting for it, too. Maybe not always — we all have ebbs and flows, especially over years of love. But in general.
It’s worth fighting for if fighting is progress, and not lost time and love.