“People never change.”
Everyone says this when they’re giving the typical “time-to-move-on-girl” talk to someone they love experiencing the worst parts of a consistently disappointing relationship.
Well, I’m actually calling bullshit on that saying because deep down it’s what everyone does when they hear that said about someone they’re in love with, even if they think it may be true.
Love is blindingly hopeful. You don’t want to believe that someone you connect with and care for so deeply is truly incapable of giving you what you deserve in life. Especially when we get into relationships with people when we are young. The thought is that everyone grows up eventually. Everyone stops cheating, lying and changing their mind when they get older, right? You don’t want to believe that the emotional roller coaster you’re on right now is all there is. It’s worth waiting. Things can get better. He’ll change. He’ll grow up. He’ll learn to appreciate this. After all, no one really understands quite like you do.
“Who are they to tell me who he can and cannot become? They don’t know him like I do.”
And you’re right. No one does.
Maybe you’ve seen him change at some point, directly contradicting that concept in your mind. If you stick with a person long enough you’re bound to experience some growth and change by their side. You hold on to those moments too in your heart — the moments he has surprised you, changed for the better and come through for you. Those are the hopes that we all cling to when we know we are losing something.
And you know the full story. You know the mistakes you’ve also made that have piled up in your mind, and you hold on to that guilt, representing your own contributions to the dysfunction. You know the closest, most profound moments you’ve experienced together. You’ve been the one to hold him through tear-filled apologies and strides to start over. You’ve picked each other up from your darkest moments, and had times that truly did envelope pure, unadulterated happiness. You’ve made friends together and built memories. You’ve had the good and the bad. You’ve experienced promising intimacy and depth, but also gut-wrenching afflictions.
Relationships are complex, and very rarely is one completely positive or negative. Love isn’t black and white– it’s gray. And people outside your relationship don’t really see the values of that gray. So you’re right- they don’t know if he’s incapable of change, or if it really should be your final chapter. But you do.
It’s that lump in the back of your throat when you’re driving home thinking about him and your mind starts to wander, connecting to your fear. The thoughts of your relationship don’t bring you comfort, peace of mind and a resounding warmth in your heart as they should. Instead you feel anxious and uneasy. You think about some of the things that have happened. Visions of fights and breakdowns force their way into your resisting mind. They’re like piercing black-and-white flashbacks from a conflicted character in a movie. You think about all of the people who disapprove and have witnessed the negativity first-hand. You feel a tinge of shame and inadequacy. You question yourself. But all of this only happens internally, and not for long.
On the outside you have to put on a brave face. You feel like you constantly have to defend your decision to wait around for this person. You make excuses to the people in your life, and even to yourself. Because if you think about it all too long you’ll start to sink into despair. You’ll start a fight, and you don’t want that. You want to be happy. You’re trying to make things work.
“Things can still work,” you tell yourself when your mind starts to wander. “All hope isn’t lost. People can still change.” But you know the truth. A woman always knows, even when she doesn’t want to.
Even if you’re still wrestling with yourself and questioning whether or not it’s worth waiting around, there are a few questions you should be able to answer, and they’re telling.
- Are the same mistakes being made repeatedly? Is your forgiveness starting to feel like a well that’s about to run out? If so, it’s time.
- Does his presence in your life move you closer to your goals and aspirations? Or do you feel like it’s drawing you down, and making it harder for you to achieve what you seek? If so, it’s time.
- Do your small arguments spiral out of control with all of the underlying issues and past troubles? Has the resentment stacked up so high that it’s inescapable? If this is the case, it’s time.
- Do your friends and family root for your relationship, or are they rooting for you to walk away? If they also think it’s time, it’s time.
- And lastly, are you happy? If not, it’s time.
There are so many reasons we stay in relationships. Sometimes the thought of being without someone you really care about sounds even more miserable than staying with them and being consistently disappointed. And it is that way at first, but in the end I can assure you happiness isn’t near as far away as you may think. It’s natural now that I am in a healthy and supportive relationship to blatantly question why anyone would wait around for someone who treats them less than they deserve. It’s easy to be that person at the beginning of the article giving the speech, and being baffled by someone else’s decisions. But I was there too. We all are at some point.
I too remember how it feels to go through all of these stages, and ask myself these questions. I remember the highs and the lows. I remember the fear of letting go, and the fear of being alone. I remember wanting so desperately to believe in change and buy into my own excuses that I didn’t even recognize the fictional narrative I was creating. I also remember what it felt like when everything fell apart for good, and how painfully challenging it was to eventually walk away and stop waiting. But on the other end of that struggle you discover a lesson that can only be learned by building yourself from the ground up. It’s when you learn that not only can you find the love you deserve with someone else, but also within yourself.
You realize you shouldn’t have to wait around for anything. You shouldn’t have to wait around for someone to respect you. You shouldn’t have to wait around for someone to be faithful to you. You shouldn’t have to wait around for someone to be kind to you.
You shouldn’t have to wait around for someone to love you.
And the moment it feels like that’s what you’re doing, is when you know it’s time. It’s time to stop waiting for a change that will never happen, and make a change in your own life for the better.