Love they say is the best feeling on earth and why not, it’s God’s greatest commandment to us. Once upon a time I was happy, I thought I had it all; I had a good job and a man who loved me, life couldn’t possibly get any better. When you’re living in bliss, you don’t realise when the rug is pulled out from under your feet until you hit the ground. I knew exactly when the love died, felt it in my guts, call it female intuition but I felt him slowly withdraw but I chose to turn a blind eye. We became roommates instead of lovers, mere acquaintances who barely knew each other and I knew I had to let go.

This is what real looks like
Photo by JD Mason / Unsplash

I saw the signs in bright red but I couldn’t bring myself to leave him. Maybe it was the fact that my African mom was hounding me non-stop about settling down or the fact that I was close to clocking thirty and I was the only unmarried person in my friendship cycle but I knew that I couldn’t let him go because he had to put a ring on it, 7 years together and I couldn’t imagine getting back to the talking stage with anyone else. So I ignored his incessant cheating like he ignored my messages, tolerated the occasional beatings and mounted pressure on him until he finally popped the question. It was bland, unromantic and sounded  more like a forced speech than a proposal but all I saw was the shinny band on my hand.

Like most women, all I really cared about was the title and security  that came with marriage and my biggest mistake had to have been thinking he’d change when we tied the knot. The archaic belief that marriage is some sort of accomplishment has ruined more lives than we can count. The 21st century woman tolerates a lot from her partner in the name of love. The problem is we don’t know when to let go, we ignore the red flags and tolerate the disrespect in the hopes that they’ll change forgetting that a leopard never changes its stripes. We put up with so much because we don’t want to be stigmatized.

Photo by Randy Kinne / Unsplash

One in ten men do eventually change, but not every lady is that lucky. Knowing when to let go is easier than we’d like to admit, the problem however comes with letting go. Sometimes rock bottom feels like a phase, you find yourself putting in all the effort and shouldering the entire relationship. This are five signs that you need to move on and focus on yourself:

If You Have To lose yourself In order to preserve the relationship

We can agree on the fact that relationships are all about compromise for both parties. A relationship should never be one sided, it takes both parties to make it work but that isn’t always the case. When you have to sacrifice so much of yourself to make it work, then it’s not for you. It’s okay to be a stay at home mom, but it should be your choice. It’s not uncommon to see  career women bouncing back between motherhood and their career and excelling in both domains. Sacrificing for the ones you love is noble but not at the expense of your happiness. So if you have to lose your job, family, friends, fundamental values and most importantly yourself to accommodate someone in your life, then they probably shouldn’t be in it.

When you live off past memories or future hopes

When you have to hold on to past memories like a lifeline to keep the relationship afloat, then it might be time to pack your bags and move on. We don’t even realise when it happens until we’re living off memories or future expectations. If they can’t do it now, the probability of them doing it in the future is slim to none. For a very long time I was stuck in the past, reliving all the good memories in my head with hopes that the love will somehow be rekindled in the future, call it wishful thinking because it ended up being just that; a wish.

When the tears are more than the smiles

If the sad moments equate or surpass the happy moments, then that is your cue to run. Problems are bound to happen in any relationship, romantic or not but when these problems become recurrent then perhaps that’s a sign that relationship/ person is not the one. Contrary to popular opinion, toxic relationships are not romantic, there’s nothing sweet about constant tears and arguments.

When your partner is hurting you

More times than not, we chalk down verbal and physical assaults in relationships when they are just as bad as being physically assaulted. No matter the gender, no form of abuse should be taken lightly in a relationship. How do you plan on spending the rest of your life with someone who is just going to degrade or beat you to a pulp? You think they’ll change so you tolerate the violence while they cultivate and normalize it. I tolerated so much in my marriage until I found myself unconscious on a hospital bed narrowly escaping death, maybe that final punch knocked some common sense into me. Some weren’t as lucky to be here to share their stories, they didn’t survive the final punch.

When you have to justify their actions

‘He hit me because he was mad’, ‘he ghosted me because he had a lot of problems at the time’, ‘all men cheat’. When you start making up flimsy excuses for your partner, excuses you don’t even buy, then you know it’s a red flag. I remember blaming myself every time he hit me, he told me it was my fault and I started believing it. He was too busy to remember our anniversary or check up on me. And it was my fault that he cheated so many times, my attitude pushed him to find someone else, and then she seduced him. I blamed everyone but the culprit but the truth is, I did nothing wrong and whoever he cheated with did not hold a gun to his head.

I received a call from the school nurse, who put my son on the line. My son told me he was very sad and was feeling depressed. I immediately went to my son’s school to pick him up. Before we left, we met with one of the administrators, who helped my son feel a little better. 

The whole afternoon I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad my son was when I arrived at the school. A few hours later, when I went upstairs for some quiet time, it hit me that my son may be depressed…just like me.

What I love about this image is the raw emotion that shows just how hard parenting can be sometimes.
Photo by Claudia Wolff / Unsplash

A lot of us have hit rock bottom in our relationships but we’re scared of letting go, of being alone so we settle. We compromise and lose ourselves, our friends and our joy for someone who is just a temporary fixture all because we don’t know when to let go. Being single doesn't mean you’re alone, focus and yourself and be content and if your relationship hits rock bottom, let go and don’t settle; first find your happiness and remember, you’re never too old to find love.

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