I understand the feeling of really wanting something to work out. Whether you're scared to be alone or simply attached to the idea of it working out, moving on from a committed relationship is never easy. Even if you are unhappy, there's this part of you that doubts if you're making the right choice, doubts if it's the right time, that remembers how good it used to feel, and you may even be thinking it's better to have a less-than-fulfilling relationship than none at all. This doesn't just apply to relationships either, whether it's a relationship, career, or your body, if something is making you unhappy, it's time to make a change. It's not normal to be unhappy and it is actually the first indicator that something isn't right.
This same thing happened to me years ago, right before I learned how to work with the Law of Attraction. I was in a loving, 5-year relationship with a really wonderful guy who connected with me on a soul level. It was a soulmate relationship but it wasn't the right relationship for me. The last year of our relationship I was unhappy to the point of secretly crying at night, asking God for help. I wanted out but was too afraid to say anything. I didn't want to hurt him and I was afraid of what life would look like without him. I had doubts and questions racing through my mind like, "what if something changes?" "What if this all of a sudden gets better?" "When is the right time to say something?" Let me tell you, the right time to do anything is once you know. "That" talk will never feel comfortable and there will always be an upcoming birthday, family event, celebration, or something to do that will keep you from doing it. These excuses are ways to cover the fact that we're just very afraid.
But why do we get so afraid to end things that clearly make us unhappy? One big "ah-ha" moment for me was realizing how much of a lack mindset I had around love and relationships. The idea that soulmates come down in huge clusters or the idea that there is an abundance of people with whom I could develop a deeply fulfilling relationship with was not my perspective. I had many thoughts about there being "one" person or that relationships were hard to find and even harder to maintain. This was my first long-term relationship and I didn't know what to do. I was scared to take that first leap and was (without realizing it) clinging more to the fear of jumping then to the feeling of being in the air. It was a mindset shift that was rooted in lack and not truth.
Another reason why so many of us hold onto being unhappy is because of time investment. When you spend years with the same person or in the same job, there is this feeling like you've made an investment. You really believe (or at least want to believe) that sooner or later the investment is going to pay off. As Dr. Ali Binazir points out in his book, "The Tao of Dating," psychologists understand this as the human mind's difficulty in grasping the idea of sunk costs. Just because you've invested 2 years in a relationship does not mean the next 2 years are going to be better. Those previous 2 years are now sunk costs and it is up to you to determine if you're willing to sink more time into an unhappy relationship. It's the same mentality with slot machines. Just because you've lost $100 in slots doesn't mean that you're bound to hit the jackpot. You have to look at those $100 as sunk costs and evaluate how much more money you're willing to sink into the game. It's this difficulty in coming to terms with sunk costs that keep casinos in business and people in bad relationships.
If you relate to any of the points I mentioned above but are still not sure if it's the right time to walk away from the relationship, fear not! Below are some guide posts to helping you understand more clearly if this is the right relationship for you or not.
- First, does the person you're with treat you like an option or a priority? If you're just a convenient option, you get stuck with the late night calls, infrequent messaging, and excuses as to why they can't find the time to see you. You feel more like a nuisance to their life than someone who holds a special place in their heart. As an option, you tend to feel and be more neglected than appreciated. These may seem like obvious signs at the intellectual level but when love, lack of understanding/experience, or sunk costs are involved, it's not so easy to know spot this one.
- Second, do you feel energized or depleted after being in their presence? I dated someone who literally made me tired. It sounds sad but it took me a few times of that happening for me to realize that it wasn't me...it was the relationship. If you feel drained, negative, or out of sorts after being with this person, it's time to walk away.
- Third, do you feel like a better person around them? Are they someone that is also growing and evolving with you? Do they make you want to be kinder? More generous? More compassionate? If you're with someone that makes you want to be a better person, that is a great sign of a healthy relationship. If you're with someone that seems to bring out the worst in you, walk away.
Ultimately, it's important to always be in touch with yourself. Learn to get in touch with your emotions and develop a trusting relationship with them as well. How you are feeling is always your first indicator as to whether a relationship is good for you or not. Trust yourself enough to make the right decisions for you and trust the universe enough to know it's there to catch you even if you fall. There is more than enough in this world to make you happy and it's never too late to get what you really, truly want.