Relationships

Knowing When It’s Time to Break Up

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There were years between the time I knew it wasn’t right and when I finally walked away. And I learned a lot from the experience. Today, I’m going to talk about knowing when it was time to call it quits and when I finally had the strength to move on.

One of my readers recently asked when I knew it was time to end the relationship I was in for most of my 20s and how I coped with starting over after being with someone for such a long time. Let me preface this post by saying that I am obviously not a dating expert and that not every piece of advice I have to offer or what I went through will apply to everyone. I wanted to share what I went through, learned, and what worked for me.

With each relationship, I’ve pretty much known when it’s been time to call it quits, but even then, it’s not always easy to walk away. Letting go, even when you know it’s not right, can be extremely difficult.

My almost decade-long relationship should have ended about 3 months in, but I didn’t think I was strong enough to break up with him. I can’t remember the exact moment that I knew, but I did. And it wasn’t right.  At the end of the day, if the person you’re dating is treating you in a way you wouldn’t want someone you care about to be treated you need to end it.Any signs of verbal abuse or a lack of emotional support are reasons to say goodbye. That’s not to say your person shouldn’t be there to bring you back to planet earth when you throw a completely insane idea out there, but no matter what, he (or she–let’s just apply that everywhere) should always be kind.

Then there’s how you’re treated when things get difficult. It’s easy to have a great time when things are good, but when life gets hard, do things fall apart? Because if you’re going to commit long-term to this person, you’re going to go through the best and worst times of your life with them. And how someone treats you when things are bad matters just as much (if not more) as how they treat you when things are good.

I finally had my aha moment on July 3rd, 2012 when he called to say he needed space. Keep in mind we were 2,000 miles apart with him in LA and me in Chicago, and hadn’t seen each other since Christmas. I told him to take his space forever and we never spoke again. It was one of those Kate Winslet as Iris Simpkins “square peg round hole gumption moments”.

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Going months without seeing him made it easier to walk away. We were over long before it ended, and the gradual break-up process plus independence I gained in Chicago made “coping” that much easier. 24 hours later, I was on a boat on lake Michigan (the only reason I remember the date we stopped speaking) celebrating the country’s freedom along with my own.

I know it’s not always that easy. Trust me.

For some reason, the guys that strung me along until for a month or two were always the hardest to shake. And I made excuses for some real idiots. Like the guy I dated for a few months who I found out had a secret soon to be ex wife, baby, and girlfriend. I didn’t know about any of them and ended it the day I found out. If you’re pining and unhappy most of the time, that’s probably a sign it’s not working. No one is too busy to text. If a guy wants to see you, he’s going to see you. And if you’re being canceled on on a semi-regular basis, there’s probably someone else. Or multiple someones. I never had to wonder if I was going to hear from Conor. Ever. 

I’m not sure what kind of advice I can offer when it comes to moving on since my long-term relationship ended long before it was over, so I suppose I’m not much help there.Ultimately, if you’re not happy and are constantly second-guessing your relationship or waiting for things to change, save yourself some time and move on.

Victoria Smith of SF Girl by Bay said it best when asked what advice she had for her 23-year-old self.

Break up with that idiot. He won’t be worth it.

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