Relationships are tricky from the get-go. First, there’s the oh-so-delicate few weeks where you’re both pretending to be the absolute best versions of yourself. This is always an exciting time, when neither of you will get annoyed at anything, you’re both constantly trying to find the humour in everything, and nothing the other person does could possibly seem negative. “You don’t cook? We’ll order takeout!” “Not much of a cleaner? There’s a service for that.” “You murdered someone a few years back but they haven’t found the body yet? Who hasn’t!”
Then we move onto what I like to call the “tricked you” period. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that we, as human beings, don’t intentionally try to con people into liking us, but rather it’s done almost completely subconsciously. I’ve been guilty of this myself. When we first meet people, we want to come off as the best versions of ourselves. That’s why it’s so easy for the words “I can cook” to flow out of my mouth instead of, “last Tuesday I tried cooking a frozen pizza and ended up lighting the oven mitts on fire.” But luckily for most of us, the new relationship feeling has yet to wear off, and when our seemingly tiny indiscretions come to light, it’s not that big of a deal.
Fast forward a few months after that, and you’ve reached the comfortable zone. I like to think of this as the make-it or break-it period. It’s all out in the open here. You’re spending most of your time together, it’s normal to assume you’ve got a permanent spot on their calendar every weekend, and you might even have your own drawer. It’s a period of contentment, where the idea of throwing on sweatpants and browsing Netflix beats out getting dressed up and paying $60 for a steak. You may have said those 3 magic words by this point, and you’re getting pretty used to waking up to your partner every morning.
But this is also the time when your true selves come out. You might start finding nail clippings everywhere. Someone who once spoke to you through the bathroom door while they peed may now not even find a door necessary. When you said “I like camping” you really meant “I like staying in a cabin with a T.V.” You don’t so much like country music as not like it all. You find an entire room in their house dedicated to worshipping satan, and, even worse, you find out they like pineapple on their pizza.
This is the gritty part. This is the part where you both decide, after the invisible cloaks of “please like me” have been shed, if you both want to love each other for who you really are. Some people, try as they may, are not a match. Some give it their all, everything they have, and commit to the relationship with everything they’ve got.
There’s no right or wrong way to go about this. But, as someone who has had her fair share of relationships, know when to let go. I have seen too many couples stay together for appearances, thinking that if they parted, they have somehow failed themselves and everyone around them.
Yes, relationships are hard. Yes, they take a level of commitment, and yes, it is often worth it to work through the hard part. It’s normal to fall in and out of love with your partner, and I don’t know anyone who has sailed through years of partnership without putting in an effort to make their relationship work.
But, if you feel you’ve given it everything you’ve got, and you’re still unhappy, it’s ok to say goodbye. Not only for yourself, but for your partner as well. The meaning of a successful relationship isn’t necessarily that it lasted a lifetime, but rather that if served you both well.
Know when to love. Know when to fight for it. And know when to let go.