I was once told that if I were to be any animal, it would be a German Shepherd K9 (thanks, RB). I suppose the comparison came from the fact that once unleashed I do tend to chase what I’m after with all the enthusiasm and dedication of a police dog. I simply do not settle for giving up ambitions, for failing classes, and approach most aspects of my life with this attitude (which can be both a blessing and a hindrance). Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that this is not the case in relationships.
There is no A to earn in love.
Sleepless nights outlining problems in a partnership, strategizing what needs to be addressed and solved, and investing your whole self into salvaging what’s left of the love may never be enough when it comes to another individual’s feelings, especially if they no longer feel the same way about you. For some men, or women, their mind is simply made up and no amount of persuasion will dent that inflexibility.
So how do you know when to let go, to stop chasing, to no longer give to the relationship? I’ve written before that my last relationship was with someone who used, abused, and then threw me away after I no longer responded to his “jump” with “how high?” For me, the tipping point came when I began to feel nothing. It wasn’t that I was bulletproof: I wasn’t immune to the yelling, the deception and the predictable outbursts where “slut,” “hoe,” and “worthless,” were all tossed around frequently. He could no longer break me down because I had already hit rock bottom several weeks back. The girl that once cared too much for everyone and everything suddenly no longer cared at all.
Relationships quite obviously vary from person to person and subsequently the patterns of behavior will also be dissimilar, but I believe no woman (or man) should feel indifference towards their partner or feel as though they are drowning. I’m not talking about boyfriends or girlfriends or husbands or wives arriving home irritated after a trying day – that will happen and working through the difficult moods and being there for the other person is part of a committed relationship – but when negative attitudes, comments and behavior become routine, that should raise an internal red flag. And if you cannot draw the line between ordinary arguments and emotional abuse, here are some filters to help further identify the difference:
1. Your partner is moody, not just every once in a while, but most of the time. You never know what mood they will be in but you begin to place blame on yourself for upsetting them in some manner. Consequently, you find yourself walking on eggshells trying to avoid problems. Moods may also appear in cycles. That is to say, your partner will shower you with compliments one week and the next they may be completely unapproachable before the compliments return. These cycles are incredibly difficult to experience because some may simply accept it as the norm and make excuses for it. But seriously, does any woman want to look at her calendar and think “lucky me, three more days until Bob gets into his mood”?
2. They’re consistently mistrustful of you. Your partner is always suspicious of whom you’re with and what you’re doing, despite your assurance that you’re not cheating or flirting with other individuals or generally up to no good. Keep in mind that there’s protective and maybe a little possessive (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing sometimes, I like a man who’s a little overprotective), and then there is what I like to call the helicopter partner who seems to constantly be hovering over you and judging your actions.
3. They are verbally abusive and purposefully put you down. As I mentioned before, partners will disagree. That’s inevitable in any romantic or platonic setting. But the right partner will steer away from bashing you when you “do something wrong,” in their mind (which, in reality, could be incredibly minor, if not non existent, such as not having dinner on the table at the exact nanosecond your partner blows through the front door).
4. You consistently are the giver in the relationship. When you are not receiving the love and attention you desire, it may seem natural to give more. You invest more, only to find yourself more disappointed, depleted, and feeling insignificant with each attempt to create or repair the connection. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make your partner happy by doing something nice for them, giving gifts or surprising them. But before you engage in another act of “giving,” ask yourself what your true intention is. Is there a part of your giving that is rooted in the hopes you will receive love and acknowledgement in return? If there isn’t a foundation of love, respect, and commitment (a balanced power of give and take) with the person you are dating, giving more and doing nice things will not cause them to love you more. It will only result in you becoming increasingly attached.
5. Your partner is unapproachable when it comes to talking about the problems in the relationship. I’m not advocating launching “attack mode,” when they arrive home or out of nowhere, but sitting down to address what is bothering you (or even planning to discuss it when respective schedules permit it) definitely should not warrant an aggressive or hostile response. This in turn can leave you feeling stuck with no alternative but to return to No. 1 or wait until the “cycle” is completed and Bob is good and ready to listen to what you have to say.
Learning to let go is easier said than done but it’s a process. And healing is also process, made easier by friends and family, by time, and by getting back up. Your heart will mend, you will forget. And one day in the future, you may find yourself with someone who wouldn’t dare call you names, or not give back to the relationship. The most patient person sometimes receives the best love story. One day in the future, not earning that A will make sense.
Watch your six & stay purring,