We all do it. We’re in a relationship with a guy or girl and it’s on the cusp between “passable” and “waste of time.” Be we don’t see it that way because we have a crush on the person and we love the idea of love and we’re optimists — we assume things are going to work out. But sometimes this causes us to lose months — or years — of our lives because we aren’t honest with ourselves about the probability of working things out, or even whether we really want them to. Here are some excuses we need to stop giving ourselves that justify putting work into terminal relationships.
1. “We have the same birthday”
It doesn’t have to be this specific detail, but often people get caught up on some weird coincidences they share with their partner as if this means it is a Sign from the Universe that they should be together. The truth is that you have these little coincidences with everyone. Whether it’s astrological compatibility or the fact that you both happen to have golden retrievers, or both of your favorite authors is Salinger. These are fun, but not the foundation of a relationship, and something you’ll have (in another form) with every person you date.
2. “We met in a really cute way”
A really adorable meet cute is great — you’ll have a cool story to add to the conversation every time you meet a new couple and your grandkids can get on the front page of Reddit in 50 years. But that story actually has nothing to do with the quality of your relationship. It’s just a detail about what happened when you guys didn’t know or love each other yet.
3. “We’ve known each other forever”
It’s bad logic to argue from what is to what ought to be. If the best argument you can give to keep dating someone is that you’re already dating them… you don’t have a leg to stand on. It’s great to have a long history with someone, and we place a premium on “forever” in friendships and dating. But the truth is that we change a lot as we grow up and it’s unrealistic to expect that we remain compatible with our high school or college friends (and boyfriends/girlfriends) forever. History is great, it just shouldn’t be one of the main reasons you are still around someone.
4. “He/she will grow up eventually”
It’s one thing to stay with a flawed person, we should all love flawed people because all people are flawed. But if you’re staying with someone who is majorly flawed in the hopes that they’ll grow out of it in a few years, you’re wasting your time. To begin with, by being with them you’ve already taught them they don’t have to change. You’re willing to stick around regardless of whether they improve. The truth is you can’t love a future person, you have to love the flawed one in front of you and if you can’t do that, it’s never going to happen.
5. “I’m not sure if there’s anything better out there”
This is probably the most common excuse — holding on to something for the single reason of not knowing if something better will come along. I think this is a problem thought, when you’re thinking this a lot in the relationship it means you don’t super respect and admire your partner. That could be their fault — maybe you really did settle, but it can also be your own fault. Why are you with someone (and trying to make it last for even longer) if right now you can’t figure out how to be excited about them? When you commit to someone part of the commitment is figuring out how to stay in love with them — because that’s not always an easy or natural thing. For a week make a list of things you really like about them every day. See if at the end of that you feel differently.
6. “Breaking up sucks”
I’m not going to spend a lot of time with this one because it’s one we can all recognize as a shitty excuse (but that doesn’t mean we don’t entertain it). Of course it’s hard to hurt someone’s feelings and uproot your life and move on. But difficult doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do.
7. “We have a kid/kids”
While this situation is unenviable no matter what happens, do a poll of your friends with divorced parents and ask them whether they’d prefer their parents have a crappy relationship while they were held captive in it for 18 years, or whether they were happy, well-adjusted people on their own. I’ve never met someone with separated parents (based the initial stages of accepting it when it happens) that truly wished their parents had stayed unhappily together.
8. “It’s better than being alone”
For some people this is true — a crappy relationship is better than being single. But the only way to get a better relationship is to breakup and be single and try to get one. (I mean, or have an affair and hope that turns into a relationship — which, good luck with that). Life is all about risk. Bigger risks reap bigger rewards. So unless you plan to live a shitty life because you’re taking the smallest amount of risk possible (thus reaping the smallest rewards) this is something you are going to have to deal with.