When you don’t know anything else, it’s easy to fall back together — not because it’s right, but because it’s comfortable to hold onto what you know. When my relationship ended, it actually wasn’t the end at all. We still talked, we still texted, we even saw each other every once in a while. It started out as drunken nights (alcohol, you sneaky bastard), which led to hungover brunches and Netflix in our underwear. Eventually ‘every once in a while’ turned into every night. We were laughing, we were connecting, we had next-level intimacy. Wait — why did I break things off again? Are things between us… actually good?
Enter: relationship purgatory. That grey area that leaves you in a dark cloud of confusion. You feel like you know this person so well, this person you’ve spent countless hours with; you understand how they think, you can predict how they’ll react. There is such a high level of care for one another, but something is off — and it’s hard to shake, if not impossible to ignore. Put simply, you’re stuck. You don’t want to leave, but you also aren’t sure if you want to fully commit (again).
There were too many times when I tried to ignore the signs, tried to convince my head of something my heart knew wasn’t right. Now that I’m on the other side, it seems a whole lot clearer. It’s true what they say: hindsight is 20/20. Here are 5 signs to help you realize when you’re starting to sink into purgatory quicksand.
1. “We were so great together for those first few months.”
Repeat after me: nostalgia will get you nowhere. Sure, you two used to work, but somewhere along the way what you had was broken. Stop holding onto the past, quit trying to recreate what used to be, and start living in the present. It is the most refreshing feeling to be focused on the now.
2. “Nothing is working with anyone else.”
Loneliness – it plagues even the best of us. Recognize that type of desperation and push it to the side. Better yet, pull up a seat for loneliness. There is no reason to stay with someone because there isn’t another attractive option waiting for you. Be lonely, sit with yourself, and enjoy your own company. Hell, start embracing it. Be your own best friend.
3. “Things will be different this time.”
There are people who are conditioned to give others second chances. It’s lovely. When second chances turn into fifth attempts, that loveliness morphs into denial. Take a step back. It’s not fair to expect someone to be who you envision them to be. It’s irrational. Stop waiting for someone to change, unless that person is you – otherwise, it’ll only end in disappointment.
4. “They get along so well with my friends and family.”
There are too many ways to convince yourself that someone is worth going back to. One of the most compelling excuses is that your friends or family approve. In short: do not let other people determine how you should or shouldn’t feel. This is your decision, and regardless of whether everyone thinks you’re nuts to give up on this relationship, no one is entitled to tell you what to do. Listen to yourself, and trust in that.
5. “If it’s meant to be, it will be.”
Get your head out of the clouds and bring yourself back to reality. If it’s meant to be, go make it happen. They are not ‘the one’ for you if you even have to think twice. If they were, you’d be doing everything in your power to keep them instead of just letting the universe handle your bullshit.
Now? Why You Should Happily Get the F*ck Out
Purgatory is like quicksand: the more you struggle with the decision, the further you will sink. You’ll get so buried in your own mind that you will choose the easiest path (ahem, going back to your ex), instead of really digging into what is making you uncomfortable. What is truly making you second guess yourself?
If you’re ready to GTFO, then get selfish. Think of your own self-development and don’t disregard your gut feeling. It’s not always easy to trust your intuition, but it’s there for a reason. In the words of Mark Manson: If the person you’re with isn’t making you say “Fuck yes,” then the answer is a big resounding “Fuck no.” So, re-evaluate. Take a good hard look at yourself and figure your shit out. Get uncomfortable. Dig deep, get to know who you are, and start learning how to pull yourself out of purgatory. It’s not simple, it’s a process. But I promise it’s a happier place on the other side.