Okay, everyone please gather around and find a beanbag on my imaginative therapy room floor space. Roll with it, I'm about to spill some tea on the eternal wisdom of relationships. In particular, when to end them and what constitutes a red flag. You know, those relationship markers that signal something is deeply wrong but because we're comfortable and afraid of change we ignore them. Yep, those ones. Ready? I'm not – but let's go ahead and unearth our emotional triggers for the greater good anyway.
The long and short of it? Cheaters are the biggest 'no-no'. There's a lot I'm willing to forgive in a relationship, but not that breach of trust. Nope. Don't believe me?
You're minding your own business, stupidly in love with Harry from down the road. He bought you flowers last week and always cooks for you. Life is good and you consider yourself safe and sound – it never even crosses your mind that he might not have been faithful.
Or equally, it could be the one that we really should have known better than to fall for. It's always the people we shouldn't have fallen for that hurt the most when they leave because it means you were right. But we can't help it. Love is all about those moments when you're minding your own business and then you realize your heart has gone on a romp about in someone else's bag. And there it goes! Nothing you or I can do about that. No sir.
But back to the emotionally turbulent matter at hand.
He's cheated. You hate the way it makes you feel and you break things off with him. But it's not as easy as that. The only reason it hurts so much is because you cared about him so much. Missing people against your will. Like it or not, your heart is still at their mercy. They may not even realize it, but that makes it even worse that people can keep such a casual, loose grip on all that tethers you to this mortal coil. I'm being dramatic but also I'm not.
The issue of control is a short-lived one, simply because you ceded it immediately the second you fell for them. That's just the nature of love – you have to be willing to fall flat on your face and get your heart broken for the price of love. Whether or not it's a fair trade, I couldn't tell you conclusively. Maybe it is; maybe it isn't. There's more to life than relationships but love itself as a mode of affection and connection is pretty much the sum total of life.
Confused? Don't be.
The thing with cheaters is that we have to teach them that what they do – while it may occasionally have reasons and excuses that track – can't be sustained. It's not right. End the relationship and pursue your new love if you must, but don't string along a relationship because it will end up hurting more parties than it should. Maybe it's because we're all taught that we're the worst person in the room and that because – finally – one person loves us despite all our flaws, we believe that we have to love them above and beyond their toxic behavior. That's not how it works. You don't owe anyone anything.
Yes, at the moment we're spooning an ungodly amount of salty comfort food into our mouths while we gratuitously rewatch old episodes of Friends, but it won't always be like that. Comforts like that exist for a reason – to make us feel better. There's nothing to be ashamed of in engaging with them, but once they are no longer consoling us, we need to try and reflect and move on.
Love that journey for us!
Therefore, I humbly escort your attention to this article. We can try to think of constructive ways in which we are improved or bettered by our experiences, no matter how positive or negative they may be. Sometimes we learn things not to do or discover things we should have offered. Heartbreak is not a deterrent against falling in love but it is something that you should listen to. Just like when you have an injury in sports or need a mental health day.
You have to listen to what your body and heart and mind are telling you. Sometimes, you need a break from socializing. Or to be kept busy. Maybe you just want a rogue night or unexpected fling to get something – or someone – out of your system. All modes of dealing with the trauma of a breakup are valid.
You just have to start trying a few out!
What we want out of a relationship – again, you are likely different people now, halfway out of a relationship, than you were a year ago, 5 months ago, or even last week. Therefore, after a relationship ends, reflect on how it might be for the best. If he wasn't prioritizing you or showed he was willing to commit, then where could the relationship have even gone on from? It's best to feel rubbish now, early on, and know, than to waste more of each other's times in the long run. Indeed, the wrong relationship if left to fester can turn very toxic very fast if neither person wants to be there. Therefore, you learn the importance of….
How to communicate effectively. Seriously, it solves a multitude of problems. The simple reality is that all relationship advice boils down to either 'communicate more, or break up'. Because that's all there is to it. Again, making a few mistakes in a relationship is absolutely fine once you extract yourself from it. Discover things that you now realize you want in a relationship that you didn't or did get before. Recognize where you maybe didn't communicate your needs or said what you meant. Even if it leads to breaking up or awkward conversations, communication can clear the air and make sure everyone is on the same page. Relationships are a two-way street and you have to ensure that all parties are heard.
The importance of prioritizing and protecting yourself. This is another killer point. I listened to a podcast once about how all relationships are asymmetrical. That one person is always more invested in it than the other, or more willing to risk themselves. I thought it was very cynical at the time, but the reality is that we can work to equal things out. We should aim for an equal, giving, reciprocal relationship. If you are giving out affection, sacrificing your time, and prioritizing the other person, they'd better be doing the same in return. If not, you have to ask yourself what you are actually getting out of the relationship. Sometimes we cling to what is comfortable, even if it doesn't actually bring us comfort anymore. Such is life.