We all have those moments of doubt and insecurity in relationships. That’s inevitable. Humans aren’t infallible, nor should they be. If everyone was just robotic and said exactly what we were meant to say, where would the fun and surprise of life be? That said, we also acclimatise to toxic environments which aren’t good for us.

We need to be better at recognising that we deserve better than what we sometimes get. Often, we might be investing more of ourselves and putting our time on the line for a relationship that isn’t being reciprocated in the same way. also, we often feel guilt for thinking about stepping away from such relationships, as though we are withdrawing a service that we ‘owe’ another person. We don’t owe people anything in this world, not inherently. Not if they’re not giving us the same in return, it’s just not emotionally sustainable. You end up expending and exhausting yourself and having nothing left for yourself. 

Therefore, we need to recognise and relearn our power to say ‘no’ and mean it.

Or to tell the people around us what we need when we need it. We don’t need to become dictators or totalitarians to do this, or to control the relationship, we just need to have an active and equal part in it. If we want to know where the relationship is headed, that’s perfectly within our rights. Should your partner not be on the same page as you, that’s fine – but that’s the signal to leave the relationship. If you explicitly do not have a future there, then you’re both wasting each other’s time and effort, and making things harder for yourself in the long term. 

There are so many self care or self-help books out there that operate under the guise of improving us. Of elevating our identity and crystallising into something more ideologically secure, consistent and productive. There are so many means of approaching ways to improve our emotional wellbeing, mental health, physical fitness, and overall social prospects. It can get super overwhelming. You aren’t alone in thinking that. Particularly when entering the office of your guidance counsellor in high school when the walls were pasted top to bottom with naff inspirational posters and placards. ‘It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey’.

Or ‘things that are hard are worth fighting for’.

The old faithful: ‘Life isn’t a competition’. Honestly, I’m sure all of these epithets are true, but that’s not to say that there isn’t more informative, helpful advice out there. Like, there’s a reason the clichés exist – because they’re solid – but I can do better. 

So I ask you, my implied audience, a question. What’s gold dust?

Not caring. That’s it. That’s my moral of the story here, folks. 

Subsequent to this, when we’re no longer as consumed by what everyone else is doing, it frees up mental space. It allows you to be kinder to yourself, now that you aren’t implicitly putting yourself up for competition against everyone around you. It isn’t even their fault necessarily – most of peer pressure is unconscious. When we personally feel put out, less than, unincluded or adrift by other people’s successes. We judge their lives to be more successful than ours, undeterred by the fact that their success is not our failure. Them succeeding does not suck up some finite resource of success that makes us any less able to succeed.

We should be happy for each other, but in order to get to that stage of emotional health, we have to first not care. Just for a bit, or for a lot – if it’s calming you down and balancing your emotions.

If you are your partner’s favourite person, then obviously their conduct with your should reflect that. If not, then you should feel no guilt in exiting a rapidly progressing situation. As soon as it’s toxic, you’re in trouble, because it becomes harder and harder to extract yourself and your emotions. 

Therefore, you need to take a step back and think, ‘Would I let my best friend subject herself to this?’. If the answer is ‘no’, then you know what you need to do. It might suck, and it might be an awkward conversation, but we’re all adults here. Let’s level up into emotional maturity and deal with break ups appropriately. It’s 2019, guys – we shouldn’t be ghosting, but we also have to recognise our own needs. 

You aren’t selfish for leaving a relationship.

Even if there are other parties involved.

Your life shouldn’t be constantly on hold just because there are children involved, or friends or a contentious situation. If you’re unhappy, you have to start to work on that straight away. Children of divorced parents aren’t unilaterally worse off than those whose parents stayed together. Wouldn’t you rather your parents were happy, even if that wasn’t with each other anymore? How is living in a house with constant fighting or tension preferable to a more open, communicative environment? It’s not. 

The moment you stop caring about things outside of your control, the moment you can start to live your own life, unfettered again.