“How do you know when it’s over? Maybe when you feel more in love with your memories than with the person standing in front of you.” ~ Unknown
Relationships don’t just suddenly end.
Instead, they often die a slow death, while both people try to revive something that is already over.
We hang on to relationships for different reasons. Perhaps it’s the fear of letting go of comfort and venturing out in the unknown that keeps us in one place. Maybe it’s logistics or even children, but whatever the reason for why we are hanging on, if it really is over, then the best thing we can do is simply let go.
But, how can we know for certain that we need to walk away instead of staying and trying harder?
While the answers for each of us may vary, there are a few truths that we can shine the harsh light of reality onto that can help us figure out if we are still in love with someone, or if we merely are in love with our memories, or the potential we once saw in them.
No relationship is perfect, and none is also without challenges, but the truth is that sometimes we hang on not out of love, but out of obligation.
And there are too many things in this life that we work at—love shouldn’t be one of them.
This is perhaps one of the biggest signs that our relationship is on the way out.
We crave trust in all aspects of our lives.
If we no longer trust the person we are with or are no longer trusted ourselves, then the entire foundation of our relationship has become weak and will shake with the insecurities of both involved.
Yet, trust isn’t just about whether we think the person we are with is being faithful, but if we trust them enough to be our whole beautifully flawed self with them.
When we first enter into a relationship or marriage, trust is what we build everything else upon. But, even if we had it once, it doesn’t necessarily continue.
People change and true colors are shown—sometimes the honeymoon wears off and what we are left facing is nothing like what we first saw when we made the choice to explore the romantic possibility that existed between ourselves and another.
If both people have made the choice to be monogamous with one another, then an issue can arise when one or both venture outside of the relationship to have their needs fulfilled—and this doesn’t always have to be in a sexual way.
We are diverse creatures and we each need something different from a partner in order to feel satisfied. Whether it’s a connection built through mental, emotional, physical or even spiritual stimulation, we all have certain needs.
It’s easier at times to have those needs met elsewhere, rather than look at and face the truth that the person we are with isn’t meeting them, but that doesn’t make the issue go away, instead it just adds to the disparity and confusion of the situation.
The other aspect, which can be even more crucial, is if our partner accepts us fully for who we are, or if they only want their idea of who they think we are.
If we don’t feel that we can truly be ourselves with someone or that they won’t accept our unique colors, then truthfully the relationship is already is over—it’s just a matter of when because without trust, then nothing else matters.
When we think of our best friend, we think of someone who can see us at our worst and still chooses to be there. We can sit up with them into the early morning hours, sharing french toast and ice cream while we are laughing so hard we lose our breath and our stomach aches.
Our best friend is the person who we know we can say anything to and they will still love us—the person who doesn’t see our mistakes as shortcomings, but instead just part of the overall masterpiece who we are.
If we are with someone who we only show a certain side of ourselves to, then it’s not a true relationship.
We can have best friends who we aren’t romantically involved with—and we should—but that doesn’t take the place of our partner also being that kind of friend as well.
As soon as we begin to censor ourselves, our relationship begins to die. Whether it’s based on preferences, personal ideology or who we truly are, if we can’t be our true selves with the person we are with, then it’s only a matter of time before the relationship ends.
Oftentimes when we get into a relationship we want to be someone who our partner needs and wants, yet if that begins to compromise the person we truly are, then we aren’t being true to ourselves and our own wants and needs.
We all deserve a ride-or-die partner—someone who knows how messed up we can be, but who laughs off our zaniness because they are just as whacky.
We deserve to be in love with someone who is our best friend, because if we aren’t, and if we are only showing the side we think they want to see, then we will never feel what it’s like to be loved for who we truly are.
Sex may not be everything, but sometimes it is.
In romantic relationships that are dissolving, sex often begins to feel like work—like an obligation to the other person instead of the joy of being intimately connected.
While the frequency and intensity of our sexual relations with someone can vary over time, we will truthfully get what we accept.
It’s not a myth—there really are some relationships that consistently have hot and satisfying sex, even well past the decade mark of being together.
There is no coincidence that our best sexual partner ends up being our best relationship. The sexual connection we have with our partner is the barometer for the rest of the relationship.
Even if we don’t want to face the music about whether there is trust or if they are our best friend, the sex will never lie.
In order to have amazing sex, we need to have trust. We need to be able to trust our bodies with someone, but also our desires and needs. If we don’t trust them, then we will never really be able to connect deeply through the physical act of sex and we won’t ever have an authentically evolved relationship, that so many of us crave.
We have to ask whether they can be our best friend. If we don’t laugh once or twice during sex or foreplay, then chances are, the person we are rolling around with isn’t someone who we can really be ourselves with.
It’s impossible to have great sex with someone who we know is only in love with the idea of us, because we will hold back.
Many times sex is dismissed as the icing atop the relationship cupcake, but in reality it’s the flour, the base—because if we can’t share this type of unique connection with the person we are involved with, then the only question left to ask is why we are with them.
Relationships are complex and so are we.
We all want something different from a relationship, but there are some common denominators as far as what we all need to feel fulfilled and satisfied.
Sometimes, we simply will not have all of our needs met and that’s okay, not every relationship we enter into to is supposed to last forever.
And maybe there is no perfect person out there, but there just might be someone out there who is perfect for you. Yet, until we make space in our lives for that possibility, we will never find it.
“The best love is the one who makes you a better person, without changing you into someone other than yourself.” ~ Unknown
Author: Kate Rose
Image: Blue Valentine (2010)
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock