I love relationships — friendships, romantic interests, work friends, mentors, basically any type of collaboration.
What this extroverted nature brought me was an abundance of relationships. But out of the people that I was surrounded by one year ago, only a handful share the same values that I hold now.
In all healthy relationships — romantic and platonic — there is a mutual understanding, trust, and care for the other person.
For example, I knew that I could say no if someone asked me to do something that I didn’t want to do, and that my right to say no would be respected.
Side note: If you’re in any type of relationship where your words aren’t respected, run.
However, even when I was saying no to individual things, I was ultimately still saying yes to the relationship.
By staying in a relationship that no longer served me, I was still giving part of my energy and time to a cause that I truly didn’t want anymore.
There will be a time where you have to let go. It is inevitable that some relationships will end, and that’s okay.
It is completely okay to leave a relationship simply because you have grown apart.
It is completely okay to leave a relationship even if there is nothing wrong.
This isn’t to say that you should use “growing apart” as an excuse to justify every situation.
But in many cases, two people who want the best for each other may realize that they are no longer what is best for the other. And that is completely okay.
Expectations vs Standards
It took me a while to realize why I always felt let down in my relationships.
I had expectations, not standards.
There was a certain image of the other person that I had crafted in my mind, and when they did something that misaligned with this image, I subconsciously inched away until I could remove myself emotionally so that I no longer cared about them.
This was completely toxic, because the other person rarely knew that I was pulling away. Even I didn’t know why it happened. I wasn’t consciously crafting an image and then pulling away. I thought that I was just prone to losing feelings quickly.
It took me a good deal of self-reflection of my own actions before I realized:
The other person (in the relationship) is an individual entity completely separate from myself. The image of them that I hold is a result of my own imagination, and I cannot (and should not) try to mold them into my reality. The only person I have control over is myself.
This may seem obvious, but knowing it and practicing it are vastly different.
It might not be your commitment issues.
The way that society goes about viewing relationships has always felt a little bit troubling to me.
That is, we tend to hold on to people who once brought us good memories. Even if it’s been ten years since those memories happened, we feel like we have to stay connected with them, or we lose a part of our lives.
People are never going to be lost from your life because they were never yours to have.
That memory with that special someone will not go away even if that person is no longer in your life. Holding onto something or someone who is no longer aligned with your direction in life is restricting your growth.
You can have a moment with someone without having to keep them in your life. Other people are not going to conform to your version of reality.
Life isn’t made up of long-term commitments, it’s made up of moments.
By moments, I don’t mean that skip your heart does during the honeymoon phase. Moments can be both mundane or extraordinary. When you’re sharing your trauma and you notice that he is giving you his full attention, that’s a moment. When you’re sharing a meal and you instinctively want to give him the bigger half, that’s a moment.
But once a relationship no longer provides moments, why stay in it?
Why commit to something that you have outgrown, when you could commit to something that will push you?
The reason for committing to relationships should be because it will continue to bring you the moments that will ultimately make up your life.
All You Need to Know
Let go of relationships that no longer serve you.
Have standards but release expectations.
Recognize when a relationship no longer brings you moments.
Letting go of a relationship does not equate to a lack of commitment. Long term relationships are wonderful and important, and commitment is necessary for success in all aspects of life.
It’s only harmful when we overdo commitment by staying in a situation just because we feel like we are obligated to.
I have committed to relationships with people I didn’t really like just for the sake of it — or even worse, because I couldn’t find a valid reason to say no. I wish I could go back in time and tell my 15 year old self that she didn’t need a reason to say no.
My brain always rationalized my decision: It’ll get better once I get to know them more. I’ll adapt. It’s a natural process to like people more once you get to know them better.
But what about after those first months? Even when it got better in the short term, after enough time I realized that I still didn’t really like them.
You do not owe anybody your energy or your time.
Practice saying no, and save your time and energy for the people who bring you joy, growth, and endless moments.