No one enters a relationship expecting to go around in circles. You go in hoping that your lover will want you as much as you want them, that you’ll still be holding hands when you’re old and grey, watching the sun go to sleep on the golden horizon. It’s a lovely dream.
Yet, sometimes, we hold onto it for so long that we fail to see when it loses its beauty and slowly morphs into lingering dissatisfaction. At times the blame rests on your lover for giving you mixed signals, being inconsistent in communication, playing games, not matching his words with actions, not defining where you stand in his life, and not putting enough effort into your relationship.
All these scenarios are easy to pinpoint. They speak for themselves and are clear signs that your dude is wasting your time. Other times, they are subtle. Your guy isn’t outrightly disengaged or obviously disinterested. But he’s not fully and wholly in. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up settling for a love that’s less than you deserve.
Since these are subtle, let’s break them down first, and later, we’ll talk about how to deal with them.
1. He Ticks All Boxes but One.
There’s something sweet about the forbidden fruit. Too many women spend years strung to the arm of an unavailable man because he ticks all the boxes. He’s amazingly hot, great sense of humor, financially secure, and with great smarts. Yet, this cool cat fails to tick the most important boxes of all — the single, free and present button.
He always has a story that he uses to string you along. A career that needs building. A commitment that has always been in the works but never materialized. A divorce that has always lingered but never actually landed on paper. A loveless, bland relationship that should have ended, but which, for some reason, he can never get himself out of.
The truth is that no matter how much he ravishes you with his insatiable love, you’ll never have him fully. A man attached to another woman, a job, a history, a cause that he prioritizes more than you, will always remain out of reach. Buying into the promise of “your future” only keeps you frozen in time. A life lived for stolen moments isn’t a life.
2. You Feel You Need To Work on Him.
Some negative traits show up much later when you’re deep into the relationship. When you first notice them, you feel the need to work on him, forgetting that everyone is responsible for their actions. Yes, you can help him identify them, but ultimately, the heavy lifting will always be up to him.
Attempting to change him doesn’t always work, and in the end, you have to decide whether you can live with habits. However, some of these are a no-no — physical aggression, for instance. He should recognize the effects of this and work towards changing himself. If you feel you need to work on him because he’s not motivated to change, then girl, he’s wasting your time.
It’s time to pull out the suitcase. As psychotherapist Tina Gilbertson writes:
If your partner’s poor behavior isn’t changing, it doesn’t matter whether it’s because he won’t or he can’t. You’re not obligated to stay with someone who’s trying (and failing) to do the right thing.
3. He Shares Only Certain Parts of His Life With You.
A man’s devotion follows what he values. Figuring out where you rank in his priority scale comes down to how much attention he gives you. He doesn’t have to call you five times a day to prove he values you. But he needs to create the space and ambiance that makes you feel like a part of his entire life. Not parts of it.
A man worth dating is transparent, inviting, and willing to include you in his hobbies and interest not because he feels obligated but because he wants to experience life with you and solidify your bond. He knows having you around makes life increasingly meaningful and enjoyable.
Relationships are a mesh of emotions, lives, histories, and years of our lives. It’s hard to walk away. It’s harder to stay. You’ll always wonder what else lies on the other side. When you find yourself at a crossroads, you have only one question to consider: Are you willing to pay the price?
Starting from scratch means hitting the reverse button of your current position in life. Scaling down on your lifestyle, limited contact with your kids, lost social network, depression, and loneliness. If you’re willing to pay the price, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities. You create a space to find new love and romance.
You get to discover a new version of yourself. You get to engage in new activities. You get to choose what to do with your life without overthinking and excessive planning. However, if the price is too high for you, then you need to find a way of coping with your life as is.
You can always find a way to manage the pain. You do this by having an honest conversation with your partner and figuring out ways to co-exist in a way that fulfills both of you and still maintains the stability of your lives. If you’re feeling dissatisfied, chances are your spouse feels it too. Tough conversations disperse uncomfortable feelings and give you a sense of clarity.
When the truth is out, you can finally adjust your lives accordingly. People organize separate bedrooms, mesh different schedules, and plan their lives to accommodate each other while still enjoying their slice of personal freedom. Maturity in a nutshell.
Most crucial life choices lead us to a fork in the road. The hardest part isn’t doing what needs to be done. It’s deciding what needs to be done.
If you ever need to choose whether to leave or stay with a man you feel is wasting your time, consider the price attached to your decision, then ask yourself if it’s one you can afford to pay. If you can, go for it. If you can’t, find a way of coping with your life as is while still maintaining your freedom.
Previously Published on medium
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