“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.” – Khalil Gibran
I recently went through a breakup. I didn’t expect to feel the way I did.
Nope, I wasn’t eating Ben & Jerry’s in sweatpants and sobbing.
Instead, I was feeling numb.
And then later, a contradictory mix of angry and free.
So, I reached out to my pops – just so he wouldn’t ask – and I let him know that it was over. Surprisingly, he gave me some great advice, which was totally unexpected. I ranted in long paragraph messages and left the conversation with a feeling of clarity.
I asked him if he would be okay with me never getting married, because coming from my Lebanese background, it is basically expected of us women to settle and procreate.
But not this girl right here…that’s not what she wants. At least not right now. It led to a conversation about the extent to which relationships are about sacrifice and compromise.
I told my pops, “I’d be happy alone. I feel complete. I don’t need anyone to take care of me, and personally, I don’t want to take care of anyone. It’s super exhausting and feels like a chore. But somehow, I don’t think it’s supposed to feel that way?”
Pops said “In my opinion, a relationship is a two-way street and it requires a lot of sacrifice and compromise to make it work. It works for some people and not for others. My advice is to take the path that works best for you.”
I asked, “Does that also mean sacrificing your life, giving up things you love most?”
I was surprised by his answer: “In short, yes. But your priorities change and as a couple you find new ones.”
Me: “I look at you and mom…you both have friends and a social life together. You would never restrict mom from going out. She has the freedom to make her own decisions. Of course might consult you for big decision. But for the most part she’s independent and thinks for herself.”
Pops: “No! The sacrifice is giving up the things you really want to make the relationship work.”
Me: “So, it’s about thinking for two.”
Pops: “Actually, it’s two people thinking for one….not an easy thing to do but it has its own rewards.”
In short, pops lets my mom do whatever the hell she wants.
My mom was always a social butterfly (I totally get this from her). Him? Not so much.
But, he adjusted because he knew this is what my mom lived for.
This was definitely a sacrifice on his part. Don’t get me wrong, pops is a cool dude and loves to socialize. But let’s get real: he would prefer to sit at home and watch TV all day during the weekends.
So how do we know when we’re sacrificing too much?
Similar to nutrition, all things in moderation; you should give within reasonable limits what is comfortable and agreeable for both partners. You should never feel guilty for having gone out with your friends or doing things that you love.
You can’t stop your life for someone. If you stay in a bad relationship longer than you should, you get used to being controlled. That’s not healthy for our mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t recognize that you have a problem, you start to lose yourself. And it may be hard to get out once it’s too late.
The hard truth is that love disappears over time… Or at least a relationship is not only about love…there are other factors.
It’s also about supporting each other, weighing out the options, figuring out which priorities are best suited for you. You and your partner are supposed to become one, to be the better half of each other.
I’ve realized it’s also about compatibility. You can’t try to change someone; you’ll just have challenges. Not that I tried to change anyone, but I had to hope that over time, maybe everything would be okay. But in the end, we just brought each other down and took it personally rather than realizing we’re just not compatible. Although letting go is the more painful thing to do, it’s the more mature thing to do. Sometimes, you have to walk away, even though there will always be a piece of your heart for that special person you once cared for and loved so much.
So, back to my convo with my dad. My pops seems to think you need to sacrifice for a relationship, but my friend put it in a way which made things seem peaceful and helps kick me in the butt to keep going.
She texted me: “People come into our lives for a reason. Whether it is for a short or long period of time. Each one serves a purpose to our story. They come to us to mold us, reaffirm, enlighten and or show us something we have never experienced before…You will not have the same experience with another person. It’s a learning experience, as always. Trust the meaning behind this.”
Tara’s Top 3 Take-Away Tips:
If you feel like, “I won’t ever find someone like this again, I should hold on,” it means you don’t love yourself. If you love yourself, you’ll be okay by yourself.
Don’t be a social media stalker. You want to make sure they’re okay, but they will be. You have to put your attention elsewhere or you won’t move on.
Be calm when you talk to that person and try to work it out. Try to communicate where you’re coming from. If they won’t meet you halfway, you need to do the self-loving thing. It’s so hard. But walk away.