You Don’t Have To Stay

Hello dear reader(s)!

Yesterday, I happen to be watching the news when the police in my city held a press conference announcing that a missing woman from nearby had been found to be dismembered and dumped in a recycling bin.  They announced the arrest of a suspect in the case, and are very confident they have their man.  A link to the story can be found here.

The suspect and this woman had been on a date.  The news said they have been told they met on a popular dating app or site.  And as I sat and thought about how and why something like this could happen, I thought about the literal dangers of dating.  I wondered if there were any red-flags or bad feelings ignored.  I wondered if any evidence of a violent record were readily available, and whether that would have changed things.

It is very possible there was no indication or red-flags.  I would certainly not blame the victim of this terrible tragedy for not seeing that something may not have been right.  Sometimes there is just no way to know, and all crimes are the responsibility of the perpetrator.  But was there signs?  Did she Google him?  Would it have mattered?

Regardless of this specific case, the fact remains that too often people stay in a relationship or continue to date someone who isn’t good for them.  It is glorified in this culture that if something is wrong with a relationship, you don’t leave.  There is an extremely popular unattributable quote that goes around social media every few months by the women I know who are probably trying to convince themselves to stay in a bad situation that says, “A relationship is like a house.  If a light bulb burns out, you do not go and buy a new house, you fix the light bulb.”  And that is valid.  You don’t have to leave every time some very little thing annoys you.  If you did that, you couldn’t even stay with yourself.

But too many people seem to never diagnose the reason the light bulb burns out in the first place.  If you installed the light bulb and it turns off in just a few months, maybe there is a reason more than just a bad light bulb.  It could be in the wiring.  Still possibly fixable, but now a much more substantial issue.  But what if that wiring issue is because the walls are soaked from a massive internal leak that is degrading the foundation?  You might want to think about moving at that point.  Sure you could do some major structural work, but you really have to ask yourself if you think all of that will make you happy in your home after all the work is done.  Or whether the hassle and the bad feeling of finding our about your house’s hidden damage will remain, even if it can be repaired.  And sometimes, houses can’t be fixed.  People move all the time.

Or, to use the house metaphor to death…let’s say you move into a great looking house and find out it’s haunted.  (Suspend your disbelief for a moment.)  Now, don’t you have a right to make the decision that you either can or can not live with the ghosts?  People are sometimes haunted by the ghosts of their pasts and bad relationships.  Sometimes you can co-exist with their ghosts, sometimes you can’t.

Moving away from the house metaphor, sometimes you just need to trust your gut.  If someone you just meet gives you a bad feeling, run.  It could literally save your life.  At the very least, it could save much more heartache down the road.

Even if something is going great for quite a while, if you feel like there is a sudden change, and it is causing fundamental issues that make you unhappy, you have a right to evaluate if it is something you want to continue.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Ask a private investigator hired to find infidelity.  They almost always know if they’re being hired, there is a reason.

Every time I have questioned whether leaving someone was the right thing to do, I have had that question answered in the affirmative after the fact.  Whether I learned they were pining over someone else, whether I found out their priorities in life were the exact opposite of mine, or whether I found out that they could never come to me from a place of trust because they did not even trust themselves; I have never regretted making the decision to walk away other than the temporary regret of knowing that I hurt someone emotionally.

But people are going to get emotionally hurt.  That is an inherent risk in any relationships.  It is important not to go out of your way to hurt someone, and do your best not to destroy someone.  There is no need to be vindictive when walking away, but you are not responsible for their self-worth either.

None of the people I’ve been in a relationship with are bad people.  They just were bad for me.  Or maybe I was bad for them.  Likely we were bad for each other.  I wish them all the best.

Here are a few tips for leaving:

  • If something is fundamentally wrong, evaluate whether the damage can be repaired, and if so, whether or not it will be worth the effort.  Remember, what is fundamental to you, may not be fundamental to someone else, and that just proves even more that they aren’t right for you.
  • If you have a bad feeling, act on it.  Intuition isn’t always right, but erring on the side caution can be important.
  • Be prepared for the person to feel hurt.  Even if they know it isn’t working, there is always a feeling of hurt when faced with rejection.  You can do your best not to twist the knife, but it still isn’t going to feel good.
  • Don’t be mean, if possible.  Blunt and honest are one thing, but resorting to being mean is only necessary with someone who will not accept it.
  • Don’t allow guilt to change your mind.  Sometimes the person will try to manipulate you using guilt.  Sometimes they might go so far as to even threaten suicide if you leave.  You are not responsible for their mental well-being.  Be as compassionate as possible, but be firm.

Is there any advice for reader(s) you would like to add?  Any points of contention?  Would love to hear in the comments.



Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

26 thoughts on “You Don’t Have To Stay”

  1. The weather this week looks promising for me to meet with a local food blogger who frequents my blog. I am going to meet a ‘strange man from the internet.’ If he gives me the creeps, I’ll run, I promise. I hope he doesn’t though, as I truly enjoy DoorScursions and lunches…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand what you’re saying and it makes complete sense from a man’s point of view. (not trying to offend) But, from a woman’s point of view, it’s not so easy. Every date is a potentially dangerous situation. Date rape is common. Murder is prevalent. We live in a society where people judge you constantly. Women who jump from relationship to relationship are generally frowned upon. She’s suddenly a “slut” etc. (not my opinion) Society also seems to get it’s kicks by telling women how they should dress, act, what they should desire. It can wreak havoc with their self esteem. The entire beauty industry banks on insecurities and low self esteem. Now things become a lot more complicated when abuse is involved. Depending on the danger level of the abuser, it can be quite easy to keep an insecure woman in that type of relationship. You break her spirit so she loses all her family and friends. Then she feels like there is nowhere to run. No one will believe her word over her abuser. She can feel threatened enough to stay because she believes she will be hurt or killed and no one can help her.
    I also believe that many people simply are ignorant on how healthy relationships should be. We have Hollywood and broken families to teach us… How f’ed up is that?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely agree with everything you said here. That is why I am speaking out about the subject. Society’s ideas of relationships are messed up. Society’s double standards on women are messed up.
      But people need to know that their safety and happiness should take priority over worries over how they are viewed.
      A bad situation is a bad situation, and people need to examine the consequences of remaining in one, verses the consequences of leaving one.
      In the end, if the people aren’t accepting someone for doing the right thing, that someone needs to leave those people who won’t accept them and find those who will.
      There are a lot of people with a lot of differing views in this world.


    2. I’m glad I am not still in the dating game but I remember how hard it was. I have gone out with people that I thought I knew only to find out that they were not what I would consider “safe”. I have also made judgements that were unfair and not accurate. Recently, I watched “Confirmation” (and plan to do a post about sexual harassment) and I realized that at the time the senate hearing for Clarence Thomas took place, I took his side believing that Anita Hill was lying just as the senate wanted me to. After watching the movie, I was really disappointed with myself even though evidence I had not heard was revealed in the movie. I believe that we make judgments whether we want to admit it or not. If we didn’t, we might follow the wrong leaders and fall-in with the wrong people. That doesn’t excuse me for my judgment of Anita Hill especially when I have been a victim myself. This was a good comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was thinking about ghosts as I read, and of course you went there. You made a great point that it is the ghosts, or demons, that people carry with them that tear those around them apart. I would add one comment that I have personally held to be the most important issue in relationships. If someone hits you, even if it seems to be in jest, leave them immediately. It doesn’t have to be a hard hit, anyone who hits once will hit again and it will be with greater force. When I was in college and guy smacked my arm because he disagreed with me, he thought he was being playful. It was our first date. I only went out with him again because my friend wanted a double date and she did not believe me. Not surprising, he did it again, but this time she saw it and felt badly that she did not believe me. Nobody should worry about whether people believe them, if you ever get hit, get out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My heart was in my stomach hearing about this today – so terrible. There are many dangers out there, and no foolproof method for keeping yourself safe from harm. Going with your gut never steers you wrong, but that’s only if we allow ourselves to be in tune with that. I liked the house analogy, and it takes a long time to realize those hard truths, and crumbling foundations. I love the last part especially about the guilt, I’m over here waving my hand wildly – ‘oh oh, pick ME!’ I’ve been such a fool for falling for that part, and not sticking to my guns. Loads of good information, and reminders in here Josh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s awful. You do have to be in tune with that. It is easy to ignore because you’re constantly being told to be polite, to work things out, etc…
      And the guilt. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. For me personally, I tried to squash myself down, and I’ve had to slowly rebuild the ability to trust myself! You are such a kind person Josh, you’re intelligent, and you read between the lines. Especially on women. It’s refreshing. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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