But I Understand

But I Understand

One of the great things about being an adult is the fact that we can do whatever we want to do. We don’t have to answer the phone, or shower, or eat healthy, or obey the speed limit, or stay in any relationship we don’t want to. All of our decisions have consequences. Since you’re clearly an intelligent person, I don’t need to tell you these things – but unfortunately, the world is filled with aggressively ignorant and clueless people and sometimes those people weasel their way into our lives and hearts as well. And sometimes our relationships just fall apart. And sometimes we come to the end of our journey with a person we once believed was the best life had to offer. And sometimes we painfully begin our exit strategy plans.

Some relationships are more difficult to walk away from than others. And after a little reflection, I have realized that I have over-stayed the majority of my relationships for a varying list of reasons. Everything from guilt to shame to loneliness. I didn’t want to end things with one of my girlfriends because she was there for me during the darkest moment of my life so I felt obligated to hang on a little longer with her while she was in her rough place. It was awful. I felt insincere and disingenuous but I just couldn’t leave her in her time of need. So I stayed out of guilt, not out of love. It went against everything I have ever said and stood for but she was a good woman and if sleeping next to her and holding her hand while we watched sitcoms made her situation easier, well, I regret nothing.

I stayed in another relationship because one woman had just lost her mother and had no one else to talk to. I stayed with another woman because I was absolutely certain that if I could coach her through her trauma, we would be perfect together. (Spoiler alert: didn’t work) I stayed with another because I was close with her kids and I stayed with another because I couldn’t bring myself to break her heart. And that’s what I think a lot of our friends and family don’t see. We have invested so much of our faith and love into a person and while we may no longer be compatible, it doesn’t mean we no longer love them. No one falls out of love in an instant. If you do, you’re either a liar or a sociopath. And while we might be self-aware enough to know when our relationship has run it’s course, sometimes the thought of hurting someone we love, someone who has become our best friend, has more negatives than positives.

Please don’t misunderstand. I would never suggest anyone stay in a relationship longer than is necessary because ultimately, it is unhealthy and deceitful and does nothing for our emotional evolution.

But I undertand.

I understand why you stay and contrary to what everyone else might believe, it’s not always for the worst reasons. Sometimes we do it because we think it’s the right thing to do at the right time. Our hearts might be in the right place even if the world can’t see it. And our friends and parents might not see our intentions. And they might not understand our motives. And they might do everything in their power to talk us out of staying… but all that matters is that you’re staying for what you truly believe is the right thing to do.

Yes, you are an adult and yes, you and can leave any relationship at any point for any reason. But you can also stay because you need to know you gave your best. That you gave everything you had to make it work so when you ultimately do walk away you can say with confidence that your best wasn’t enough to fix the holes in your compatibility. And that’s okay. Because that is what people like us need to know so we can sleep easier.

About author

Christopher Gutierrez

Christopher Gutierrez is the author of several books on love, sex, and relationships. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Deep End, in addition to running Deadxstop Publishing. Since 2006, he has given hundreds of speakings at colleges, coffee houses and universities all over the world.

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