“Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than hurt yourself trying to put them back together.” ~Unknown
A couple of months ago my dear friend and I were chatting over coffee.
The subject turned into past relationships and the reasons why they didn’t work. My friend shared a story about her ex-fiancé—one of those “this clearly isn’t going to work, but I sure will try my hardest since I don’t give up” ones. Yeah, that kind.
It’s the kind of story that, telling it now, with hindsight and time on our sides, seems absurd. It’s the kind of story you think only happens to other people—the kind you never want to admit is a part of you. The details may be different, but most of us are familiar with the story’s main plot.
Maybe it involves someone lying, someone leaving, or someone cheating. Maybe it involves a dramatic climax like someone crashing your car, jumping out of your moving car, or disappearing for days (yes, all these happened).
It’s the time when someone went too far and then maybe tried to backtrack. It’s the moment when you feel like you are having an out-of-body experience because you don’t recognize yourself or the person in front of you.
They all end the same, those stories. The grand finale involves your heart being shattered into fragments so small that you think you will never heal, but eventually you do.
This particular story ended with my friend telling me, “You know, it’s never enough when the person’s not the one.”
I made her stop and repeat that.
It’s such a simple, sensible, and yes, obvious idea, but for some reason when you are in the midst of a relationship that clearly isn’t going to work out, it can be so hard to see this, know it, accept it, and end it.
We reflected how in the past we buckled up and stayed on, committed to a fault, trying everything in our power to make the doomed relationship work.
Loyalty prevailed over logic. Lines blurred and things appeared acceptable, even though they were far from it. Giving up wasn’t an option, yet somehow crying, begging, yelling, excusing, and rationalizing seemed completely reasonable.
Instead of just gracefully letting the relationship go and moving on, we stayed until finally, we hit our breaking points. (Coincidentally, our breaking points involved a lot of crying, hiccupped breathing, and being huddled on the floor—not pretty, but hey, it’s the truth.)
How much trouble, anxiety, worry, stress, and time would we have saved had we listened to what our intuition had been telling us all along—or at least way before the floor became our friend?
“It’s never enough when the person’s not the one.”
Do relationships take work? Absolutely. But there’s a difference between doing the work needed and working yourself to the ground. There’s a difference between giving what’s necessary and giving your whole self away.
Sometimes it may feel like things are falling into place or transforming for the better, but eventually it turns bad again. Because ultimately, when the person is not the one, no amount of trying, praying, begging, wishing, or hoping can change that. And that is a blessing in disguise—even if you can’t see it right away.
When I think of the best relationships I have had—friendships, romances, colleagues, mentors—they all have one thing in common. They came easily, naturally, and without the drama of crying, cursing, screaming, hair pulling, and intervention from my loved ones.
Was every moment picture perfect and the stuff movies are made of? Of course not. But always, the laughter and smiles outweighed the frustrations and tears.
I will say this, though. That was then; this is now.
It may have taken me a while to learn the lesson that relationships aren’t meant to be so difficult—at least not all the time—but now that I have learned it, I hope to never forget it.
I believe I’ve become better at acknowledging what falls in the normal boundaries of a healthy relationship and what crosses the border into that dark, stormy place that is difficult—but not impossible—to navigate out of.
It’s something I have to remind myself of and something I work on, but today I listen more to my intuition, pay closer attention to signals of warning, and trust myself more. Whenever possible, I choose peace over chaos, happiness over distress. Above all, I choose love—love for myself and love for others.
It turns out it’s just a lot easier that way.
Because the floor? It’s a hard, cold, uncomfortable place to be. I prefer to be standing on solid ground with my head high and my soul smiling.