There are some things in life that get better with time, like a bottle of fine wine, a classic novel, or aged cheese, however, an bad relationship is not one of those things people. Bad relationships are more comparable to milk that curdles and goes sour. I can’t think of anyone who would drink sour milk, yet so many of us will try to convince ourselves to stay in bad relationships long past their expiration date.
After spending three years going back and forth in a cycle of will they, won’t they, I finally let my own expired relationship go. If you’re using any of these rationales to convince yourself to stay in a relationship, it may be a sign that your relationship has expired.
1. “We have so much history.”
This is the oldest excuse in the book. Now in some cases history is good, it means you’ve been through a lot together, grown in different ways as a people. Maybe you dated through college and all of your college memories include this person. Maybe you’ve been together through some hardship like losing a loved one or a personal battle of some kind. Maybe they saw the best in your when even you yourself couldn’t. Whatever it may be you’ve shared something real together, but at some point something changed and you began to bring out the worst in each other. Newsflash, we can’t live in the past, or recreate it for that matter.
2. “No one understands us.”
Well you’re right that no one understands you or your “us.” This one goes back to the sour milk example; no one understands why you would continue to reach for the carton of curdled milk when there are plenty of fresh cartons available at the store. Chances are when you’re referring to “no one” you’re talking about your close friends or family who you’ve confided in about this person over the course of all the ups and downs (chances are at some point these confidents really began to resent this guy/girl and the way they treat(ed) you). And of course their view of the relationship is going to be different than yours being that they haven’t been directly living the relationship, however, sometimes they can provide a valuable perspective. They’re perspective isn’t colored with the feelings and emotions of the relationship as your own. They can clearly see (and remind you) of the times when he/she cheated on us, stood us up, lied to us, or was just a straight up bone head. So while no one may understand your relationship they do understand that you need to ditch the rotten milk for the sake of your sanity (and those around you).
3. “What if we’re soul mates?”
Ah, the what if rationale, this one is big with over thinkers (I know because this one’s my personal go to). All the quotes out there about how its better to try and fail than to regret the what ifs in life. What if you give up on them and years later you regret it and you realize they were your soul mate and you end up all alone. I’m here to tell you if you’ve given him/her two or more chances and you’ve crashed and burned multiple times, give yourself (and your heart) a break, look to the future and realize the best is yet to come. After all over thinkers, what if your soul mate is out there waiting for you while you’re wasting your time on mister/miss wrong (I know, I bet you haven’t pondered that one yet).
4. “When it’s good, it’s really good.”
OK, if you’re giving yourself some kind of “the good times make up for the bad times” speech in your head, stop. Maybe you were listening to all the wrong country songs on repeat for too long like I was, but the small handful of times they paid you extra attention and took you out to dinner do not, I repeat, DO NOT make up for the majority of times when they ignored you, couldn’t make time for you in their busy schedule (which consisted of watching TV or bar hopping every weekend), cheated on you, and “didn’t want to make things official” because they “weren’t ready” (AKA “I don’t want to feel guilty about hooking up with my ex when he/she’s available”). If you’ve found yourself trying to weigh the pros and cons there’s probably a good chance whatever are the cons are, they heavily outweigh the pros. It’s time to stop pretending that the tiny handful of good times in some way make up for the gaping hole of heartbreak you’re left with after each of the many bad times. And if you need a reminder of the bad times you love to forget, see #3 and speak to one of your confidants.
Not all relationships are bad and not all relationships have an expiration date, but if any of these rationales resonated with you, there’s a good chance it may be time to ditch your relationship. If we choose to stay in these expired relationships we choose to repeat the same cycles of heartbreak over and over again until we learn to let go and move forward. There’s no reason to settle for a mediocre relationship when you could have one that will get better with time like a bottle of fine wine.