Blanket Statement Monday: You don’t have to make it work out.

I’ve got a ton of work to do today, so I’m going to let Dear Sugar tell you some things about leaving.

Sometimes you just have to go.  You’ve had the difficult conversations, you’ve used your words, you’ve tried, you’ve walked a mile in the other person’s shoes, you’ve stood up for your needs and given the other person the opportunity to meet them, and at the end of it – you’ve just got to go.  They don’t have to mistreat you horribly. There doesn’t have to be some terrible crisis or airtight case that your family or your soon-to-be-ex-lover or your Inner Chorus of Judgy Self-Criticism has to accept. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

I think I said this on Feministe the other day in some long comments section, but I don’t believe in soulmates and I don’t believe that love – the feelings of love you have and the feelings that other people have for you – are enough to guarantee a happy, functional life with someone.  And when it doesn’t work, it’s so, so, so sad. And hard. And expensive. But you still don’t have to stay in friendships that don’t work, in relationships that don’t work, and, honestly, you don’t have to sit down to holiday dinners with family members who make you feel like shit just because they are “family” (though you can certainly choose to put up with difficult people and imperfect relationships for your own reasons or because they carry benefits that aren’t immediately obvious to other people). As long as you know that  you can opt out, and that your wanting to is reason enough, you can make an informed choice that’s right for you.




21 thoughts on “Blanket Statement Monday: You don’t have to make it work out.

  1. right on, sister. love doesn’t guarantee long term happiness. also? and if you view love strictly as a feeling? doom. love as an action? a state of being? it requires a certain amount of work. it shouldn’t be WORK, though. love is a choice. a team sport. us against the world! fights? should be problem solving sessions. and the benefit of the doubt? imperative. that being said? you can love someone. like someone. and have it be the wrong time or the wrong circumstances. things can be slightly off. that person can be a nice guy/woman…but not the right nice guy/woman. i’ve always maintained a two week rule. if i’m miserable in my relationship for more than two weeks? yeah. i’m out. i get to choose this. and i can always change my mind.

    i learned a hell of a lot from a friend of mine who walked away from a medical career. one she invested time in – not to mention a hell of a lot of money. because? she just didn’t want it. she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. that takes some guts. was there a REASON? you know, capital letter REASON that justifies such a leap? not that she’s ever mentioned. she’s not the kind of person that justifies herself. not to mention? it’s none of our motherfucking business.

    i try to invoke the, “fuck, if she can ditch a medical career, i can motherfucking [fill in the blank]” statue. i’ve done this with friends that aren’t healthy for me (even if i’ve had them for years). jobs. things that don’t bring me joy. and justification? i’ve learned this from theLeon…it has always been a bad habit of mine…can make things worse. just say no and be done with it.

    1. Really, the idea of love as a choice/action/work kept me in a relationship for too long. We did both love each other, we just weren’t right for each other. But I kept thinking, well, even when I’m frustrated or upset, it’s still a choice to love! So I stayed in a relationship that frustrated me, where I wasn’t trusted, where I now (in the recent aftermath) feel like I was manipulated.

      The feeling was there, true compatibility wasn’t.

      1. for me, though – choice means that i reserve to get the hell out if i want. i don’t think i could handle (actually, i KNOW i couldn’t handle) being in a relationship if i HAD to.

    1. Oh, Dearheart!

      I second the Captain’s recommendation to read all of Dear Sugar’s advice.

      This may sound presumptuous, since you haven’t gone into much detail here, but I’m telling you right now: no matter how deep you are, you are not in too deep to walk away.

      Even if you’re married.
      Even if one or both of you is unemployed.
      Even if you have children.
      Even if there are other contingencies.

      You can walk away. Right now, even. I promise. Affix your facemask first, before helping other passengers.

    2. Me. One hellish marriage. Four hundred dollars. Four suitcases. and a kid who would soon turn four years old. One international flight back to my home town, with no home, no job. This was five years ago. Damn, it was hard. It still is. But it was the right decision. There is no such thing as too deep. I wish I knew your circumstances…. just know that men and women have been saving themselves from certain hell by admitting it’s over, it’s done, there’s nothing more that can be done or said or given up to make it work.

  2. Dear job:

    It is really, really, really not working out. It’s not me, it’s you. I’m out at the first likely opportunity.

    Regretful only that I didn’t do this earlier,


  3. This is so true and so important. One of the hardest things about breaking up with someone that I’ve experienced is being expected to explain why you don’t want to be together anymore. I also know from experience that it sucks to be dumped when you thought things were going well, but sometimes things just don’t work out, and when you want to leave, you don’t have to explain yourself.

  4. Hell, I’m happily married and I don’t believe in it all. The idea that if you just love hard enough everything will be ok was disproven to me last relationship. Thank goodness he had the sense to break it off ’cause I was miserable but couldn’t bring myself to leave.

    Now if I could only make peace with my career decisions and change…

  5. Way too deep that you love someone so much you can’t contemplate being without them. You every thought hour minute second is filled with him and only him. He is your first thought when you wake up and last at night.
    Way too deep as in you know it’s not gonna work out but you can’t find that strength to pull away and move on.
    Way to deep like he has this hold over you and no matter what happens you accept any excuse from him for his behaviour and carry on. Just wanting to believe it because the alternative is too painful. The alternative is moving on without him when you can’t see past him.
    It’s about strength and I admire all of you that have found that strength as I’m still looking for mine. It does come at times. I break it off and he won’t accept and we end up back there again. It’s there and one day I’ll find it again and move on.

    1. I think when it boils down to it – if you were dead sure that exactly 1 month from now you’re going to find someone better, and they’re going to love you to pieces and vice versa, you’d be able to dump this current person. But you probably don’t believe that, maybe because it can take indefinite time to find someone, but maybe also because you don’t think finding someone good who will love you again is very probable. And maybe that’s because you don’t feel like you’re entirely worth loving. If that’s the case – I know when I was in a similar hole, I didn’t feel like I was entirely worth loving. And to be honest, I don’t think I started feeling worth it until long after that relationship ended. So how did I find the strength to leave? It wasn’t so much that I thought “I deserve love” – it was more like “no one deserves this level of unhappiness, not even me. Or maybe I do, but fuck it, I hate living this way.” I think most of us have this tripwire, where we won’t take it anymore – for some people it’s a lighter threshold than others. In any case, once I was out I spent several months just feeling numb and weird, and then after a while I started feeling okay more than not, and pretty surprised because I’d actually forgotten what it’s like for people in non-shitty relationships, who don’t feel shitty all the time. Now I’m in a better relationship and I’m just really glad I left my ex or I would still be trudging around on depression/resentment autopilot instead of actually enjoying life.

  6. Man, do I love everything by Dear Sugar. And you too, Captain Awkward.

    Anyhow. I love this because it works in reverse too. If you want to leave…you should leave. It’s as simple as that, really. But on the flip side, just because you’re not sure it’s be all-end all-one true love forever and ever, it doesn’t mean you have to go. You can stay and figure it out. There’s so much out there convincing you that love is something fantastical and unattainable, the thing dreams are made. What can live up to that?

    I agree with you that I don’t think soul mates exist – sometimes, it’s just a best friend you want to hang out with. And sleep with. And have a future with. And maybe that’s good enough.

  7. Since purging toxic people from my life, it has gotten so much better. I have had three such purges in my life – painful, sad, and they probably decided they were victims every time. But every time I have done it, my life takes a huge leap forward into Closer To What It Could and Should Be.
    Purge 1: college friends who took more than they gave; made me feel worse more often than they made me feel better; and weren’t even all that fun to hang out with to make up for it.
    Purge 2: Deciding to just not speak to my mother any more. No huge fight, no dramatic overtures, just…fading away. She didn’t try and get my attention for 13 years, when she needed an emotional tampon for her illness. I gave that the college try for about 4 years and then faded away again, reaffirmed in my original decision.
    Purge 3: Recent, and I probably didn’t handle it well, but they were sapping me actively and were my “besties” and it had to be abrupt and not protracted with justifications they would dismiss anyway. But literally in days my life started to get better. And I didn’t miss them!
    It seems cold or harsh, but why do you want to please people who hurt you/make you feel bad/etc? FUCK THEM.

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