I knew I wasn’t supposed to be with my ex-boyfriend about three months into our relationship.
I still remember the moment it clicked for me. We decided to take a walk in the park after dinner one night and ended up disagreeing about something. After 20 minutes of nonstop arguing, I couldn’t help but feel like I was talking to an alien. I knew we were pretty different, but this was the first moment that I could very plainly see that our values and approaches to life were just incompatible.
Despite this realization, it took me four years to end the relationship.
During much of that time, my indecision was agonizing. Yes, we shared some good times. Though he didn’t love me the way I deserved (I’m a survivor of partner abuse), I know I meant a lot to him and I cared deeply for him as well. But even during our good times, in the back of my mind I knew they wouldn’t last. And though I wanted him to be The One, I knew he wasn’t. Being with him never gave me the deep peace I secretly longed for.
As a breakup coach, I help women find healing after a breakup and move forward in their lives. I don’t convince them to break up with someone before they feel ready, especially if abuse is involved, as that can be dangerous. Ending a serious relationship is a life-changing decision, so I typically do not work with women who are still on the fence.
But for those of you who know deep down in your heart that your relationship is going nowhere, fast? I’m talking to you. And I understand. I understand how you feel and I understand why you’re stalling. Because I’ve been there.
What you’re doing is completely normal, by the way. Humans are hardwired to move away from pain and toward pleasure and breakups are PAINFUL. So, if you’re sitting on the pot, let me give you five reasons to just take care of business already.
1. The relief is soooooooo worth it. Though ending my relationship was awful, I felt peace about the decision. In fact, I never expected to experience such pain and peace simultaneously. Slowly, I began to realize that the stress I dealt with for four years was not just from the stress of our relationship. It turns out that not following your heart causes a lot of stress too — internal stress. And neither is good or normal in a healthy relationship.
2. You can finally move forward because you’re no longer stuck. After breaking up with my ex, I started grad school, got promoted at work, moved into my own apartment, ran a 10K and traveled across the country by myself for the first time. I had no clue how much our relationship held me back until I saw what I could accomplish without it. All the energy I channeled into trying to make our relationship work was now being channeled into my own well-being and it felt absolutely fantastic. My breakup truly was a wake up.
3. Eventually, you’ll feel proud of yourself. Think of all the things you’ve done in your life that were scary at first. If you’re reading this, we can assume that taking those leaps of faith didn’t kill you. In fact, they probably made you stronger, taught you an important lesson or helped you grow. Leaving my ex was something I thought about over and over again and when I finally followed through with it, I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself. I followed through, got stronger, learned important lessons and grew. Yes, breakups suck, but they are also opportunities to experience these things when a confidence boost is greatly needed.
4. Your loved ones deserve honesty, and more importantly, so do you. It’s hard to pretend that you’re happy when you’re not, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I constantly defended my relationship to others, trying to force a circle into a square. Once he was no longer in my life, it felt wonderful to “come clean” about how miserable I was in the relationship. Each person who said to me, “We really liked him, but…” helped me to be more honest with myself about what our relationship actually was — toxic and exhausting.
5. Healing. True healing is absolutely wonderful and will change your life (and future relationships) forever. Trust me.
It took four years to truly accept that nothing I could do would make our relationship function in a healthy way. All the wishing, hoping and praying in the world couldn’t change him. Changing myself couldn’t change him either.
I don’t judge myself for stalling for so long though. Back then I truly thought that my self-worth was somehow dependent on my relationship. My heart was brave, but I chose to believe otherwise.
If you don’t feel ready to take the leap quite yet, you shouldn’t judge yourself either. I sure don’t. Only you know whether you should break up with that person already or not, but what’s more important is that you know you can.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your brave heart. Then, when the time is right, take the leap.
You can do it.
P.S. Need more encouragement? Check out my latest interview on HuffPost Live where I talk about the moment I knew I needed to get out of my relationship.