My very first thought on relationships is that each one is unique in itself and what might work for one may not necessarily work for another. For instance, while Schooling in the West, I had a flatmate who complained and cursed at her boyfriend because he had never beaten her before, weird right? A more familiar scenario is one in which some ladies find it irritating that their men dot on them “too much”; they feel choked up while others complain of not getting enough attention (talk of one meat being another’s poison).
In truth, we are all wired differently with varying cultures, backgrounds and experiences that form our own unique belief and needs system, so for relationships, there is no one size fits all approach. My father used to tell me as a single young lady who had an appetite for reading preparatory books on marriage that the answers were not in there, I did not understand then, but now I do.
With all that said, I would zero in on a few salient pointers or warning signs that say, “It’s time to let go” in a relationship irrespective of your background, location or orientation;
A relationship in which you are being abused physically, verbally, emotionally or otherwise; whether you’re being degraded, given doses of slaps or punches or constantly being told by your partner that you were picked from the gutter and cannot survive without him/her in a relationship, you really need to get out, even where you are close to getting married. As you probably already know by now, marriage does not change people, rather, it magnifies their personality so nothing is going to change simply because you stand before a crowd and say your vows; things are likely to get worse. Similarly, a partner who cheats before marriage, would not stop simply because he/she chose to settle down with you. If for some bizarre reason its okay by you now, just be sure you would still be fine with it five years down the line when you are married with kids.
If your partner is out rightly opposing your aspirations, not contributing to or not encouraging your personal growth and development, you would eventually get frustrated, if you are not already. You would be perpetually unhappy because you won’t find fulfilment as a person and marriage cannot make up for that. Relationships should be of mutual benefit, so if you’re being marginalized; constantly giving and trying to make things work while you’re left feeling worthless and less appreciated, then it’s time to walk out the door.
If you get to a point where you are in a relationship out of pity and you do not exactly feel any sense of connection to your partner, you need to do you both a favour and let go, no matter how hurt you think the person would be. Chemistry is usually highest at the beginning of a relationship, if it’s not there, it is very unlikely to happen later. In the same vain in settling for someone simply because he/she is good enough even where they don’t meet your standards or because you are under pressure to be involved/get married would always leave a hole in your heart, one that knows that you never really found what you wanted, one that would keep your heart searching, unhappy and unsatisfied. Also, if you have grown apart, probably because your goals and aspirations have changed, you need to tell your partner the truth and go your separate ways. The fact that people know you as an item is inconsequential, you would be hurting your partner more by hanging in there when your heart is long gone. This would often degenerate to strained communication, lies, and painful frustration culminating in either an unhappy relationship or a bad break-up.
When you are only hanging on because you think you won’t find someone better –This is most common among ladies who have had kids, series of abortions, or done something regrettable. Although, some people do this over things as trivial as the physical appearance or financial capacity of their partner, which to me is laughable because that can change any minute. If you play this card, prepare to be second fiddle all your life whereas there’s someone out there whose version of perfection is you, please move on. A note of warning to ladies aborting babies in a relationship because your partner is “not ready”, he probably never will be ready for you and you’re consistently putting yourself at risk for someone who may never marry you, just run (no stories).
Dealing with breakups has never been easy especially if it was not your preferred option or you are still in love with the person but the relationship has proven to be unhealthy for you. The fear of the aftermath of separations is usually the reason people remain in relationships even when they are unhappy. The fundamental thing here is to realise and beat it into your consciousness that a broken relationship is better than a broken marriage. If it was not going to work out in the end, why give it more time and effort? Telling yourself this truth and making it sink in would make a whole world of difference and help you move on even when it’s at a snail’s pace.
Moreover, you need to allow time to heal, genuine emotions are not switched off and on automatically, and you have invested a part of you into another person and must now accept that a relationship you once nurtured is over. During this time, experts prescribe that you stay apart for a while to clear your head and recognise that the world wasn’t made up of just the two of you plus you don’t want to be making silly emotional moves that you would be ashamed of in future. Find a dependable shoulder to cry on (preferably not a mutual friend with your ex). Furthermore, engage yourself productively, be around loved ones, hang out with friends, do a course or a project, take dance or swimming classes, anything that would distract you positively and sap away all the negative energy. It’s not rocket science, but you will begin to feel better faster and be sure to turn your past mistake into a learning experience.
Finally, consciously seek out, internalize and find ways to express your best qualities, this would help you regain confidence in yourself and reintegrate into the world. If you run into your ex during recovery time, stick with pleasantries and small talks, do not discuss your relationship as it would not do either of you any good. To sum up, we are social beings, hence the need to love and be loved, a relationship should therefore be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. It may not be all rosy, romantic and may not measure up to your fantasy but it must be healthy and sensible. It should not reduce you to less than the person you are, rather, it should make you better, happier and safer.
In conclusion, it is important to note that what works for one may not work for another... But for peace sake and for the sake of your happy forever always always look out for the signs and avoid pitfalls. Know when to move on, know when it is time to let go.
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