Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The disappointment of people who let you down whether it be a family member or a close friend is always devastating and somehow unexpected, even when all the signs warn you that it’s coming. Have you ever been let down by friends or family? Let’s be honest? Who hasn’t been? People are human and humans are fallible. We know this. Hell, I practically expect it. I’ve lived long enough to know that shit really does happen, especially when you least expect it. The key is recognizing toxic people and knowing when to walk away from toxic relationships.
The thing is I don’t want perfection in the people I love but I want respect, love and effort. I want you to try to live up to my expectations because I’m trying to be my best for you. I’m not trying to be perfect, because I want you to know the real me, I want to be less uneasy being my vulnerable self with you than the general public. So when you can’t do me the basic courtesy of being honest with me, you fail me, yourself and our friendship. This is what I teach my children. This is something I learned the hard way.
I teach my girls to behave this way and to expect it from others. Relationships are investments and you should expect ROI. Friendship shouldn’t be a bottomless pit of give. You should get what you give. You should get what you want to get. Will that always look like equality? Never. Sometimes one will need more than the other and other times the other will need more. Relationships should never involve receipts, IOUs or keeping score, it should be about being there and giving to one another what the other might need.
Knowing when to walk away from toxic relationships is a life skill and most of us don’t learn it until we’ve been burnt by toxic people more than once.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that not everyone feels or views relationships the same way. There are people who want relationships for purely selfish reasons, to see how they can benefit from it with no regard to the other person involved. Honestly, unrequited love has its place but not in a confirmed relationship whether that be friendship, a relationship or a marriage, that’s a violation of the social contract that humans agree to when getting involved with other human beings. It’s a fucking bamboozle and I’m not here for it.
So, let’s break the cycle. I’ve done my fair share of crying over relationships and I’m done. I’m henceforth accepting people for who they show me they are. I’m no longer putting my hope on how people can or will change because that’s not fair to me or them.
I’m not trying to change anyone and I’m certainly not changing myself for anyone. I’m trying to be my own best self so that I like the me in the mirror. End of. If you don’t like her, no need to discuss or argue, let’s just civilly part ways. TBH, if you tell me you don’t like me, I can accept that. I’m not for everyone. But if you pretend we’re friends or whatever the relationship is and you’re not all in, that’s worse. If I’m not a hell yes for you, let me be a hell no. It might sting temporarily because I’m human and I lean a tad on the narcissistic side but I will get over it.
However, if you enter into a relationship under false pretenses, that’ll hurt to my core because I allowed myself to be vulnerable, love and trust you when our time together was based on a lie that you knowingly perpetuated. You’ve wasted my precious time and squandered my care for you. That’s grounds for hate to me and you deserve it. I can forgive but I can’t forget so, we will never be the same because the trust and respect isn’t there… it probably never was because when you care about someone, you try to protect them.
I’ve taught my girls that to have a good friend , you’ve got to be a good friend. They believe this so they know the rules. They won’t waste your time pretending. Faking is not their way. Either they love you or you’re not significant enough to matter in any way that can hurt them. Make no mistake, they care about the human race, they are respectful and kind but they know that relationships are an investment. They don’t say anything behind you’re back that they aren’t prepared to say to your face. They don’t judge people on what they have, do or how they look or how popular you are. They judge you on how you treat them and others. They observe. Still, they’re teenagers and my middle-aged wisdom can only guide them through the murky waters of the teen years. But sometimes their youth and big feelings drown out my experience and they get hurt.
Relationship hurt has to be felt and gone through to process and make peace with. I encourage them to feel their feelings, talk about them and be honest with others about their feelings. Don’t push them down or pretend they’re ok when they’re not. That’s a recipe for disaster because then you’re just damaged for the next relationship. And don’t be fooled, it isn’t just romantic partners who have the power to hurt you in relationships. This advice applies to friends, lovers, family members, parents and co-workers. Respect yourself, know your boundaries, speak up and put in what you want to get out and most importantly, don’t be afraid to walk away from relationships that no longer serve you, or worse, actively hurt you. Life is too fucking short.
Have you ever had to walk away from a relationship that you really wanted to work? What was harder for you, walking away from family, a relationship or a friendship? What are your best tips for walking away from toxic relationships?