There’s a reason why they tell you to trust your gut: it’s fucking bitter to let go of someone once you sell yourself on the idea of what they could be.
We’re told that relationships are hard. We’re told to give up the notion that anything in life comes naturally and to be ready for a long, hard graft. We’re told: “Yes, people do bad things. But you should give them a chance, too. After all, nobody’s perfect.”
That last bit, a not-so-subtle reminder that if you want anybody to even contemplate being with you, you need to be able to make sacrifices for them too.
And then, of course, a person comes along who is “a little bit of work”. Someone who seems “awfully nice, really, just lovely,” if not…
…if not what?
If not for the fact that they’re not quite there for you?
If not for only reaching out when they need something?
If they didn’t somehow leave you feeling bad about yourself, or like you were constantly being the adult in the relationship?
Knowing that we are not perfect, we sell ourselves on the idea of what someone could be if not for this really annoying, hurtful thing they do. And so we work hard to bring out their better self, accepting deeper and deeper jabs until our ego isn’t just bruised, it’s bleeding everywhere and leaving stains on the relationship. We keep thinking, “this is no way to live!”, but then we also imagine how lovely it would be when our hard work pays off.
Naturally, when you finally let go, it is not without resentment.
This happened to me, not too long ago. I had to put distance between myself and someone who, I confess, I liked more as fantasy than in reality. I kept making up scenarios in my head where I was the bad one, where I was at fault that my relationship with them fell apart. It wasn’t until I let go completely that I realized how one-sided the whole thing was.
And I am angry about it. I’m angry, I’m hurting, mostly at myself for building them up in my head, but also at them, for taking, and taking, and taking. I suppose I should not have kept on giving, but the fact that they felt entitled to me and my affection was a jagged pill to swallow.
Here’s the thing about Takers: They have choices.
Every adult person in this world has a choice as to what they can do with the lot that they are dealt with. Many blunder around as they figure things out. Some have their moral compass firmly fixed upon justice and equality. And some just take what is on offer.
Not maliciously, per se. But because it’s easier.
There is nothing we can do to speed up someone’s growth or to turn a lazy, one-sided relationship into one that nurtures and fulfills us. We can try and wait it out, but all that does is show the other person they can do what they like, and we will not step in and protect ourselves. They will never learn because they never experience sadness, or anger, or frustration, never find themselves in a situation where they have to put in an effort or give more than the bare minimum to reap a reward.
Sweet darling, let them learn. Let them go.
Let them grow without you.
I know it feels like setting yourself up for heartbreak; like there is bad karma in abandoning someone who seems to need you so much. But they are not helpless, sweetheart. Repeat after me: they have choices.
If they’re a fellow blunderer, they will find out their way. They will be better for the experience. Maybe you will catch up over a sangria, ten years from now, and some sweetness can cut through the bitter again; you will be on equal ground, because they will recognize what you did was right and self-caring.
If they’re lazy…
You will still enjoy that cocktail on your own. And you will be glad that you don’t have to babysit them any more.