Sometimes it’s easy to know when we’ve outgrown our relationship.
We often talk about leaving love that no longer serves us—abandoning love that chooses to hurt us repeatedly before it ever chooses to help us. We can easily point out where the cracks started forming and how we stayed long past the warning signs. It’s not always easy to leave in those moments, but it can be easy to reason why we should.
What about when the love you’re in is good, though? When it’s not a love that goes out of its way to hurt you. A love that is doing its best, even though it feels almost on entirely the other side of the world from what you need right now.
It’s a little harder to work through those moments, because as long as the love isn’t hurting you, then you should stay, right?
No two relationships are the same. What’s suitable for one isn’t always good for the next. Yet, it helps when we really sit with the idea of what a “good relationship” means to ourselves.
Is a good love simply one that doesn’t abuse? One that doesn’t cut you with its words, doesn’t harass you or hit you? Because that alone isn’t the hallmark of a good relationship–it’s the absolute bare minimum of what a relationship should require.
Is a good love one that is better than your previous relationships? One that treats you differently than your past? One that doesn’t hold its past mistakes against you because it knows it’s unfair to project its trauma and insecurity onto you? One that is a little kinder to you than your ex, and therefore must be what you’ve been searching for? Just because this relationship you’re in is better than your exes doesn’t make it a good one, it makes it different. It means that you may not be dealing with the old problems, but that doesn’t require you to settle for someone whose problems are painted in a different color and a bit more soft-spoken.
Is a good love one that feels safe and secure? One that you know will provide for you no matter what? One that may not have romance or passion, but it has stability? These are good qualities to have, and it’s okay to want steadiness in a relationship. Yet a love that doesn’t ever express how it feels emotionally or one that never shows you romance except when it’s an obligation isn’t necessarily a good relationship–just a safe one.
What if your relationship has all of these qualities and you’re still feeling uncertain? The truth is, sometimes we outgrow good loves. Ones that we once thought would solve all our problems, and they did for a while. They helped us see new sides of ourselves. They helped us move into a better version of who we are now.
We outgrow good loves because we want a great love. We outgrow great loves because we are constantly growing in new directions, and when those people can’t or refuse to grow with us? It doesn’t mean we stop growing. We can try to fit ourselves inside the structures. We can pretend we are the same people and become incredible at mimicking our old patterns to make the other person feel more comfortable in their continued stagnance. Yet the reality is we can’t keep it up forever–eventually, we have to be honest with ourselves and with our partners.
That we are growing, and we have to do so without them.
Not because we no longer love them. Part of us always will. It’s hard not to love someone who was good and secure and gave hope that there was something better than what you were used to. Yet when you start to realize parts of yourself, and something in you is screaming that you need to pursue those things alone, you should sit with that feeling. Listen to it and figure out what it’s trying to tell you.
It can be difficult because you wonder if you’re making a mistake. What if they can grow with you? What if you leave them behind and you never find love again? What if you start becoming this new person and decide it wasn’t the right time for this journey? The questions can drive you insane because there is no fool-proof way to determine the truth.
Yet if you’re feeling the way you are about needing to move forward, think about why you’re feeling that way to begin with. Is it because you’ve already seen repeatedly from this person enough to know they won’t grow with you, not really? That you know your heart is bigger and has so much love to give that isn’t being seen or cherished right now? That you’re really just terrified to take a risk, afraid you will fail?
You’re the only person who can decide to stay, but what you should know is this:
Sometimes we outgrow perfectly good love–and it’s okay. It doesn’t make you horrible. It doesn’t make you broken and cruel. It makes you a human being who knows it’s time to go, even if it’s hard.
Because once you reach the other side of this, you will realize it was for the best. Once you grow into this person you’ve been desperately trying so hard to do, you will remember when you wanted to stay within the old parameters and will be grateful that you didn’t.
You will be so wildly, unbelievably grateful you didn’t.