post written by: Marc Chernoff

8 Things You Should Never Give Up for a Relationship

8 Things You Should Never Give Up for a Relationship

Being alone doesn’t mean you’re weak, it simply means you’re strong enough to wait for the right relationship.

“It’s been exactly ten years since my controlling, abusive ex-fiancé sold my favorite guitar which cost almost $1,000 and took me ages to save for.  He sold it on the day I broke up with him.  When I went to pick up my belongings, he was proud that he had sold it to a local pawnshop.  Luckily, I managed to track down the guy that bought it from the pawnshop.  The guy was really sweet and gave it back to me for free, on the condition that I join him on his front porch for an hour and play guitar with him.  He grabbed a second guitar and we ended up sitting there on his porch for the rest of the afternoon playing music, talking, and laughing.  He’s been my husband for almost nine years now, and we are happier now than ever.”

That’s a paraphrased version of a story one of our coaching clients, Megan, lived through a while back.  It’s one of those life stories that really stuck with me – one that I still think about on a regular basis.  And it immediately came to mind this morning when a new reader of ours, Jay, emailed me a long story about his present, broken relationship.  Specifically this one line jumped out at me:  “I feel like I’ve given up my love, my passions, my friendships, and my life for her, but it’s never enough.”

Using Megan’s story as a frame of reference, we are reminded that unhealthy relationships restrict and impair, while healthy relationships bring freedom and life to our existence.  It’s important to remember the difference.  It’s important to remember what you should NEVER have to give up for a relationship.  And that’s what this article is about – some good reminders for Jay, and for all of us…

1.  Your imperfect magnificence.

It’s not hard to find someone who tells you they love you; it’s hard to find someone who actually means it.  But you will find them eventually, so don’t rush love, and don’t settle.  Find someone who isn’t afraid to admit they miss you.  Someone who knows you’re not perfect, but appreciates you as you are.  One who gives their heart completely.  Someone who says, “I love you” and then proves it day in and day out.  Find someone who wouldn’t mind waking up with you in the morning, seeing your wrinkles and grey hair, and then falls in love with you all over again.

Remember, to the people who truly love you, you are magnificent already.  This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings, but because they so vividly see the beauty of your soul.  Your shortcomings then dim by comparison.  The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and magnificent, at the same time.

2.  The right to decide for yourself.

Don’t put the only keys to your growth and happiness in someone else’s pocket.  Relationships are not about authority and obedience; they’re agreements of love and respect.  You simply can’t live your entire life through someone else’s fantasies.  There must be compromise and the space to do what’s right for you, even if someone you care about disagrees.  Give, but don’t allow yourself to be used.  Listen to loved ones, but don’t lose track of your inner voice in the process.

Never apologize for what you feel and what you don’t feel; that’s a betrayal of your truth.  No matter how much advice people give you, sometimes you have to feel things out for yourself, make decisions on your own, experience things firsthand, and build your own conclusions from the ground up the old fashion way.  (Read Choose Yourself.)

3.  Your innate human need to be understood.

There’s honestly nothing more intimate than simply being understood and understanding someone else in return.  Even when there are disagreements, every healthy relationship contains this mutual understanding – a loving space filled with listening and compromise.

So remember to listen without defending, and speak without offending.  Communication isn’t just an important part of a relationship, it is the relationship.  And really, there’s only one rule for being a good communicator: the willingness to hear others.  Because we do not always need a busy mind that speaks, just a patient heart that listens.

4.  The freedom to love.

Love is the creative force of the universe.  It is as important to life as oxygen is to breathing.  When it is present in our lives we feel happier, more optimistic and fulfilled.  Without it, we become angry, cynical, resentful people, critical of ourselves and others, effectively squashing the greatness that exists in us, and diminishing our own light.

Open your heart and let love out.  Love people.  Love experiences.  Love yourself.  And let go of those who try to stop you.

5.  The courage and willingness to experiment with life.

To live a great life, you must lose your fear of being wrong.  Remember that doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Even when things don’t work out, they do.  Because in the end, experience is what you get when you didn’t get exactly what you wanted, and experience is often the most valuable thing you have to give.

So don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  Don’t let someone scare you out of failing forward.  All of life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  Either you will succeed or you will learn the next best step.  Win-win.  (Read Start.)

6.  Your joy.

Never let anyone or anything get in the way of your joy.  Live a life that sizzles and pops and makes you laugh out loud every day.  Because you don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that your life is a collection of meetings and “someday’s” and errands and receipts and empty promises.

So go ahead and sing out loud in the car with the windows down, and dance in your living room, and stay up all night laughing, and paint your walls any color you want, and enjoy some port wine and chocolate cake.  Yes, and go ahead and sleep in on clean white sheets, and throw parties, and paint, and write poetry, and read books so good they make you lose track of time.  And just keep living and laughing and making God glad that he gave life to someone who loves and cherishes the gift.

7.  Other important relationships, including the one you have with yourself.

If a relationship is closing you off from the world, it’s time to break free.  It’s time to choose love over deception.  After all, that’s what love is all about – freedom.

So don’t blame love if a broken relationship is interfering with your other important relationships, or robbing you of your self-esteem and personal freedoms.  No, don’t blame love.  For it isn’t love that’s stealing from you.  It’s possession.  It’s obsession.  It’s manipulation.  It’s confusion.  Love has nothing to do with your situation.  For love doesn’t close the door on happiness and liberty.  It opens it wide to let more in.

Likewise, if someone expects you to be someone you’re not, take a step back.  It’s wiser to lose relationships over being who you are, than to keep them intact by pretending to be someone else.  It’s easier to nurse a little heartache and meet someone new, than it is to piece together your own shattered identity.  It’s easier to fill an empty space within your life where someone else used to be, than it is to fill the empty space within yourself where YOU used to be.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

8.  Your inner peace and composure.

No matter what you do or how amazing you are, throughout your lifetime some people will still upset you, disrespect you, and treat you poorly.  Let them be; let karma deal with the cruel things they have done.  Hatred and negativity filling your heart and mind will only consume you and your potential.  You will begin to heal and grow emotionally when you let go of these past hurts, excuse the people who have wronged you, and forgive yourself for your misjudgments.

Bottom line:  Learning to ignore certain people and situations is one of the great paths to inner peace.  So let GO when you must.  Let them be, so you can be at peace.

The floor is yours…

What else would you add to the list?  What should you NEVER have to give up for a relationship?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Photo by: Vega

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  • Great tips about what to never give up - I think we all wish we knew this when we first became adults and began to date.

    I would add: never give up living your life true purpose. We should each determine what our life purpose is and stay true to ourselves. Sometimes others may not ‘get’ that part of us or support us. To give it up for someone else or lack of support from the one we love is giving up a part of your soul, and no relationship is worth that.

  • Great reminders, and so true for relationships of all kinds.

    I would add: Your dignity.

    This line from your book (which I continue to love) perfect reflects my thoughts:

    “You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot in someone’s life. Never force someone to make a space in their life for you, because if they know your worth, they will create one for you.”

  • This was something I needed to read right now. Thank you so much for posting.

  • Just, thank you. I needed so much to read that tonight, thank you so much!
    « It’s easier to fill an empty space within your life where someone else used to be, than it is to fill the empty space within yourself where YOU used to be. »

    Love xx

  • I’d add “space to breathe” to the list. Sometimes space needs widening. You don’t have to be together 100% of the time in order for growth to occur in your relationship. Partners (and even friends) need the room to facilitate individual emotional growth and restoration.

    Separate isn’t always terminal. This is something I know you’ve written about in both your blog and book before. Just a reminder.

  • These are all great - thanks for sharing!!


  • This is so beautiful: “…they so vividly see the beauty of your soul.” That reveals such a deeper dimension of love.

    Being an introvert, I wouldn’t want to give up my quiet time or time for myself.

  • I really needed this today. I have stayed away from relationships, in order to wait for the right one and not jump into some fanciful relationship. It’s been nothing but hell because the loneliness one faces and the desire to love and be loved is so overwhelming. I have no clue how I do it. Lately, I’ve been wondering about letting go of my restraints, but I think I needed to hear this. Relationships are beautiful, but the one that is meant to be, not one that’s forced or brought together for loneliness or social pressure. No, rather one that springs out of true love, freedom, care. I hope to find it all soon, for now, I must learn to love myself and grow stronger.

  • One thing that jumps out at me is that this post assumes people actually learn from their mistakes and past experiences. Some do, some don’t.

  • Amazing and true. I once almost fell into the trap of loosing my self in the hope of keeping a relationship but somehow, i escaped just in time. I did nurse a heartache but i can boldly say im stronger now.

    And like you said, i did not get what i wanted out of that relationship but i got valuable experience that taught me exactly what i do not want.

    Better a heartache and a lost relationship than a lost identity and a relationship based on fear and filled with uncertainties.

    Thank you Marc and Angel. I think you are God-sent

  • To the list, I would add to never give up your assertiveness. That’s how people take advantage of innocent individuals. I’m becoming more assertive every day. So always stick up for yourself. Live, laugh, love.

  • Don’t give up your right to change, or let others change.

    Don’t give up the knowledge that love is a verb and a noun.

    Don’t give up your right to walk away, or let the other one go.

  • Hanmant Survase
    March 13th, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I broke up my 5 year relationship. I felt very very wrong. I got your mail and sigh of relief an given me a strength like a wake up call. Thanks a lot Marc & Angel for sharing these wonderful thoughts…

  • I wanted to say thank you both. I am amazed at the amount and quality of positive help you continuously offer. I grew up with a pessimist for a mother and a dreamer for a father. The positive and sometimes challenging changes I have made in my life have very similarly occurred by the guidance and instructions you offer, but of course I walked I different path to get where I am today. I am so happy to read your insights they are a joy to imagine and then integrate into my life. The variety and content you write about is enormously broad and supportive. I am thankful to have found your Blog, because I think there can never be too much positivism in the world.

  • Melissa Webster
    March 13th, 2014 at 9:47 am

    @Dev True. It’s important to respect your own worth and value, and to have enough self-respect to walk away when others take it for granted or don’t appreciate it. Most days I repeat to myself the mantra “I am surrounded by requited, reciprocated love and acceptance.” It’s like a bug repellent that keeps good people in my life and the wrong people away from me. On the days I forget to say this out loud, I can physically feel the difference in my mood and the relationships around me.

    @J.J. As a creative person, I can attest to what you say personally. We all need our own space to think and breathe on a regular basis. Constant static and distraction makes creativity difficult. But it’s also about maintaining your own individuality and staying in touch with who you really are and what you really want and need to thrive and grow. That so often gets lost when you join with others if individuality isn’t respected and encouraged. Nobody wins, because it stifles innovation and growth.

    The trick is, in my opinion, making sure that “space and time” doesn’t morph into isolation and misanthropy. I tend to struggle with this, and when it feels like it’s gotten excessive, I have to force myself to be around people.

    The only thing I’d add to the list is don’t lose your sense of adventure to mix things up now and then. Stagnation and routine make for a miserable existence.

    Great list! Thank you for this.


  • Oh Marc and Angel. You always seem to make me feel so much better. I needed this today.

    I guess my addition is this:

    Always try your best to find the courage to walk away when you know deep down you are surrendering the parts of your soul that you will never get back.

  • Love the beginning story. I’m a hopeless romantic and know that life isn’t all fairytales, but they are possible. I will keep smiling knowing that mine is somewhere down the road when I least expect it.

  • I ended my 10 year, going no where, marriage 2 years ago. I gave my all but in the end he wasn’t willing to let me be me and be supportive, so it’s over. I am now reaching out and looking for a new partner. I so needed to read this article; it reminds me of all the things I gave up in my marriage that in the end were not worth it. I am going to read this article again and again while I wait for new love… I will not lose myself or my dignity again.

    Thank you so much!

  • Thank you for this post as well as all other posts. They helped me get through some very difficult times. This hits incredibly close to my heart and is a welcome reminder for living my life after my own situation like Megan’s. I have not found someone to share my life with yet, but I’m pretty happy living it alone for now!

  • I wish I had read this post a few years ago but it’s never too late. Thank you :)

  • Nothing is “meant to be”. Life IS choices. Action has consequences. You and you alone are 100% responsible for your choices, actions and reactions.

    “Meant to be” is what weak people use for a crutch when the results they produce aren’t desirable. Focus on getting the results you desire and quit blaming anyone else or anything else when you don’t.

    Learn to quickly and correctly assess others and deal with them accordingly. Better to avoid “defective” people than make them your partner. This holds true for business and love.

    “Things happen for a reason” and the reason is choices made and actions played.

    I hope this wakes someone up.

  • Great points, but I also think some people might interpret these rules as a good reason/excuse for running away from their responsibilities. A relationship also means that you want to take care of each other especially when there are children present in a relationship, even when times are tough. So we must remember this too.

  • Great starting story – love it. And absolutely agree with the premise that you should never have to give up for a relationship. At the time though, you don’t always know that you are giving up something – relationships don’t always appear as good or bad, black or white, they are often in a grey area in between and we sometimes make little compromises for good reasons and it’s only in retrospect we see we have strayed too far from our true self. Polonius’s advice to Laertes in Hamlet: ‘This above all else, to thine own self be true’ seems a perfect maxim in this instance.

    Of course, when you do finally find someone who you love, you realise this. It’s like a coming home.

    Some great nuggets in this piece – I love the concept of don’t let your happiness be reliant on someone else and of course, better to have tried and not succeeded than never to have succeeded at all.

    In answer to your closing question, you should NEVER have to give up your own remote control. I’ll leave others to determine what I mean by that!

  • Remember why you started a relationship in the first place!

  • I had been in a bad relationship for years. I realized that I was the only partner that was truly working on making the relationship work. I had given my all to the relationship with no love in reciprocation, so I ended it.

    That was a very painful episode in my life. Not so much for her.

    I bought a coffee cup as a reminder. Written on the side of the cup was “Never try to teach a pig to sing… It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” Maybe that isn’t the most romantic way to express the truth but you catch my drift.

    I have been happily married for many years. My wife loves me, just as I love her. I never would have found her if I hadn’t been ready to be alone for the time it took to meet her.

  • I really like number 2 “The right to decide for yourself.” No matter what happens you need independence and a voice.

  • Codependency anyone?

  • You should never lessen or give up your authenticity. Be who you are, always; don’t try to fit into another’s ideal of what you should be, because then you might miss the one who is looking for just what you are. If this person doesn’t “get” you in all your flavors, be ready for the one that does.

  • Forgive so you can travel more lightly.

  • I think this is all great advice. After being dumped, I had to also re-examine myself. For a while, I wanted to justify myself.. only to realize I totally played a fool. My point is, on top of not losing your self-worth, the greatest growth is when you decide to be really honest about yourself about where you have failed and how you can improve.

  • Shelley, I loved this “Always try your best to find the courage to walk away when you know deep down you are surrendering the parts of your soul that you will never get back.”

    I agree with Julian Illman, love is a grey area when you are in it and it is not always clear when you are surrendering parts of your soul. We may lose time and space, but I do think the soul eventually grows back, or is refilled, like a well. It takes patience, prayer, and for me, walking and dreams my soul gives me to understand.

    I would add this: what you give through a genuine intent to love always comes back to you. Not, perhaps, from the person you have loved but from Life itself. I once read, “You learn more from a person who is hard to love than a person who is easy to love.” I have come to believe that, in the stretching we go through attempting to love, to grow wise, to be kind, is the very soul-making that will refill the well.

    And, yes, listen to that inner voice when it tells you, “Enough. It is time to go.”

  • “So don’t blame love if a broken relationship is interfering with your other important relationships, or robbing you of your self-esteem and personal freedoms. No, don’t blame love. For it isn’t love that’s stealing from you.” Well stated! People who have had their heart broken are often scared to be open to another relationship. Realizing that what one (I) had was not love, means that we can open ourselves up to love once again, as that is not what hurt us in the first place.

  • @LauraGrolla, I love this! So beautiful.

    @Lisa, awesome. Well-said.

  • My former husband wanted to come over, and I said yes. I left him after years of him calling me a stupid, idiot, moron, and believing I was unstable and manic. I worry about still being in love with him. We were married 25 years. If I tell him to not come over, I won’t feel this stress - we should know it’s over. I need to be strong.

  • These are the things I’m learning now at 45! Ive been been married 20 years but actually with my ex for 27 years. He left me to mess around while I was out of town helping my 14 yr old thru one of 8 (so far) excruciating leg surgeries. My ex keeps wanting to get back together every few months when he breaks up or has a bad weekend with his gf. He reverts back to what is comfortable…controlling me. I love him but just cant let the alcoholic controlling behaviors back into my life. Now he is harassing me day and night, obsessively by phone and text. How do you let go of someone you love so much? He loves me too, so much he is wanting to lash back because he’s not getting what he wants…me to love, but mostly to control. Last time we tried to get along, he complained after 2 days that I hadn’t shown him enough of how much I really care. Not sure if I’m falling out of love, or I’ve become so hesitant knowing that hes going to repeat the cycle; that I’ve just already given up. I know there is someone out there who will love me. Just got out of an amazingly loving relationship but the guy was a couch potato and caused me to gain 25 lbs sitting around all winter with him because he was tired, more a homebody, and just not the right guy. I feel like there will be the right person out there to love me the way I deserve, and to do fun enjoyable things with me.

    The ex and I still have kids 12 and (now) 16 whom we would both prefer make a happy healthy family with. I can’t get him to admit he has a drinking problem because he’s a very functional alcoholic and prefers to continue drinking and doesn’t realize how drinking affects his overall control addiction, his inability to be with me without a drunken rage every couple days, and to allow me to be a complete person with friends outside a relationship. Every time we tried (getting back together), all these behaviors appeared in less than 48 hrs.


    p.s. Jay sounds like a guy I would enjoy knowing.

  • I love the article and the advice is great, but i tire of this accept who the person is or you do not love the. This, I do what i want mantra. Sometimes change is growth and our loves ones are there to trigger it, because humans are creatures of habit. If you are a spoiled brat or a srug addict, it’s not negative to initiate breaking such habits in a positive manner. Or if you have a loved one with no ambition, what is wrong with lighting a fire under their ass.

    There is a lot of open ended comprising as well as give and take that i think this article fails on.

  • “Communication isn’t just an important part of a relationship, it is the relationship. ” I LOVE this. Thanks again for your wisdom, insight and beautifully crafted words. Always an inspiration.

  • Thank you :) x

  • I have not had good examples to follow to have a healthy relationship. Although my parents stayed married until my mother’s death, it was not a happy marriage, and I always said I would never marry if this is what it was about.

    I did end up getting married, and thought she would never intentionally hurt me. Immediately after the wedding, she set out to harm me in every way, and I felt so betrayed I swore I’d never marry again. I recently met a nice lady, but I got scared of being hurt again, and shut her out of my life. I don’t know how to be in a relationship. When it’s bad I run, when it’s good I run. I’m going to keep this posting and try to review it and grow. I hope at some point to learn how not to lose either the relationship or myself. Thanks for giving me something to think about and work toward. Any suggestions of other sources for help with this?

  • Well, after 31 years in a relationship, 27 in marriage, I have taken the step of separating from my husband. We were in counselling for 3 years and the same issues kept coming up because he refused to address them. Enough is enough. We’re not getting anywhere and it’s time to find out who I am now, having made more compromises than I’d like to think about. I’m looking forward to peeling off all the layers and finding the woman I have grown into at the age of 28!

  • My husband of 27 years keeps loosing jobs every 3 years, of no fault of his own, something is not right. He has lied about some things. We haven’t had sex in 5 years, don’t think I haven’t it tried, and I’m catholic. I’m so angry. How do you pray for your enemies?

  • Wow - I absolutely loved this post!

    “doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing” - this is just so true and that’s the way we learn to speak, to walk… and so many other things when we are babies.

    Yet, once we are grown up we are suddenly no longer allowed to make mistakes - this doesn’t make any sense and I’m taking back my “right” to make mistakes and to fail.

  • @Sophia: Know that you are on the right track. You don’t need a perfect relationship, you just need someone who you can trust – who shows you that you’re the only one. If you haven’t found true love yet, don’t settle. There is someone out there who will love you unconditionally, even if it’s not the person you were initially hoping for.

    @Keren: “Better a heartache and a lost relationship than a lost identity and a relationship based on fear and filled with uncertainties.” Very well said. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    @Avery: I love your take on “Things Happen for a reason.”

    @Pirlo: Ohh… good one!

    @Richard: A personal timeout for self-reflection and self-inquiry should never be overlooked.

    @Jan: Continue to make yourself a priority and do what’s best for you. Be your own best friend and take your own advice. =)

    @Bridgette: It sounds like you know the answer. Copy and paste your comment in a secure place you can easily access it. The answers you seek are within it. Every time you feel vulnerable and have the urge to give your ex another chance, read YOUR comment! Be strong. There are certain people who aren’t meant to fit into your life no matter how much you want them to. Maybe a happy ending doesn’t include anyone else right now. Maybe it’s just you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is simply letting go. =)

    @Stan: Another good article that could help includes: 7 Smart Ways to Stop Fearing Rejection

    @Rosebud: Congratulations on making your needs a priority.

    @Amy: This may be an obvious point, but in a long-term relationship like the one you’re describing with a long lasting history of issues, getting you two in the presence of a counselor to carry on open and honest conversation about your feelings is likely the best bet. It is possible to turn this around, but both people have to be committed to change and growth.

    @All: Although we may not respond to each and every one of you, please know we take the time to carefully read and digest your comments. We greatly appreciate your feedback and feel blessed to have such a loving community here. Thank you!

  • Hi,

    Great great article, so helpful, uplifting too. Can I add “Never lose respect for yourself no matter what the situation is”…….. This goes a long long way

  • I loved Megan’s story! Things do have a way of working out….I guess they can say that her ex set them up!
    You’re self respect! If you allow someone to disrespect you, they will respect you less for it.

    You’re sense of humour! Letting someone take the fun out of your life because of how poorly they treat you. Show them you are not going to let them take that away from you.
    “People will only treat you as badly as you let them”. I allowed that over a period of a few years. It was all mixed in with all the wonderful stuff, so it seemed palatable and recoverable. Until your health is in the tank from all the stress and you realize you’ve had enough and it isn’t going to change. Learn to recognize personality disorders.

    Never give up your well being….

    I will never let a significant other or friend treat me poorly ever again. It was a very hard lesson. But one I’ve learned. What a great feeling that is to know that I have that within me now.

    So some wise people at Marc & Angel once said “So today, close the door on your past, open the door to your future, take a deep breath, take a step forward, and start a new chapter in your life.”

  • Thank You So Much for this post… It’s really very helpful.

  • Love the post!

    What would I add to the list? Hmm, I guess I would say…your own true self. It’s a bit of a variant on your #1 point. The #1 point in the post focuses on imperfections that will come with time (e.g. grey hair), but I would say more that you are who you are…and that’s amazing!

    Prior to my marriage, I dated throughout my 20s and 30s, and had several relationships where I either thought I would “change” my partner’s bad behavior (e.g. drinking, cheating) or they wanted to reshape me into their ideal woman. I felt that we were falling in love with each other’s potential, not who we truly were.

    With my husband, it works because he loves me — just me — every day. Even when we make each other a bit nuts. I find that amazing.

  • This is true with romantic, and friendship relationships. I was friends with someone who I had so much fun with, but I could feel myself changing, even slightly. I realized that she wasn’t a very nice person at all, and she had been talking about one of my friends behind her back. She ended up being very mean to me as well.

    I learned to let her go, which was easy. What wasn’t easy was forgiving her and letting go of my anger. I eventually did, and it has made me so much happier to not have her in my life, and to not have the sadness and anger she caused me.

  • Never give up on yourself. I have heard my own heart cry out to my mind in certain relationships shouting “STOP permitting others to cloud your soul!” Your heart is key to your happiness, and is the conduit to your soul. Don’t give up the connection to it. Without that tie, you feel empty and unfulfilled. Resentment builds and life is not truly lived. When you quiet your mind, your heart takes over - and with it, your ambitions, goals, desires - your identity - shines through like the brightest star. Don’t give up on you - or you will have nothing to offer anyone.

  • @Keren I was in the same situation for 7 years with my boyfriend. I was very depressed and lost. I’m glad that I choose to left him and learn to love myself more.

    @All It’s great to read this article and all the comments. I’m having a hard time in my current relationship and this article makes me feel better.

  • What’s crazy is you seem to always post about the exact thing in dealing with at the moment of darkness. Thank you again. As always

  • It far easier to take nastiness from people when you realize it’s about them, not you. Positive/happy people produce positive behavior. Negative/unhappy people spew their nastiness whenever they have the opportunity. Just following fb is a good example. If it’s any consolation, you may get a ‘reaction’ of it, but they live with their nastiness 24/7. Sad.

  • I lost myself in a relationship recently. I’d been single for a very long time. I didn’t see him coming and I certainly didn’t expect to fall so hard for him. It was as messy a situation as it can get. I feel so humiliated. I did end it, but I know he wanted to and didn’t have the courage. Months later I sob and grieve and hurt so bad I can hardly breathe. It was the right thing to do for a million reasons and I learned a lot about myself that will propel me forward in a positive way, but I’ve never loved anyone like I love him. I just pray that someday I will understand it all.

  • Dear Shawn, your story and mine are exactly the same and I suppose I could feel ‘humiliated’…however, instead I feel empowered….I had the courage to take the chance so will never spend my time with “what if’ regrets because I didn’t; I fell down and skinned my knees but guess what? It didn’t kill me to fall off my trike…so I’m going to get back on and keep on trucking and go toward love. It’s taught me plenty, I’ve started my own blog Diamond Chips and Seafoam, which is helping me stay honest with myself.

    Don’t feel humiliated because you took a chance or because it didn’t work ……just look at how courageous you were! And as much as it hurts not wise enough to walk away from what served neither you nor him. You may have lost him, but something tells me, you’ve found yourself.

    Much love & peace!

  • Thank you. I’ve enjoyed reading this post and all the interesting comments.
    As a woman of 50, I have met quite a lot of people with so much ‘baggage’ - hurt, idiosyncrasies, mistrust, etc., they’ve carried around from past relationships. I can attest to having these things also, but I’ve learned that before I can truly be a part of someone else’s life, I must deal with the negatives of my past.
    That involves acknowledging, understanding and forgiving those who’ve hurt you as well as accepting the role you played in each particular relationship that left you heartbroken. Only then can you change to be a more loving person to yourself and others.

    But the most important point, for me at least, is to never compromise your own personal integrity in order to accommodate someone else.

    Good luck and love to all!

  • Linda - thank you for your words of encouragement. It is difficult to keep perspective at times. I have learned that keeping my heart open is the answer. One day there may be someone who touches my heart and treats it gently. And you are right, I have found myself.

  • My take away from relationships that end…

    Do the work, figure out where you need or want to grow. For me, I lose “my voice” in relationships with men.

    I am currently taking a “time out” or dating sabbatical. This time is all about learning about myself, personal relationship boundaries. And most importantly, it is about figuring out who I am, and loving myself. I have spent a lifetime taking care of everyone else, now it is time to “love myself”. I pray that as I grow and stretch in life and love, I will attract more positive, and loving people into my life.

    My best advice, do the work, figure out where you want to grow!

  • @laura grolla: my husband is so hard to love! and I have grown so much in opening my heart to let him be who he is. The practical result is that we don’t live in the same space. This is bizarre, but seems to be the journey we’re walking together. What would it take for us to open our hearts all the way open to embrace the humanity of others with compassion?

  • Thank you. Beautiful words that I needed to hear. I’ve had a strange and sorrowful last 5 years and I really connected with this. Just, thank you.

  • When it comes to relationships, you should never give up your hope. I know so many people who no longer believe in love so they don’t give their heart out, or they treat the opposite sex like objects and sleep around to avoid commitment.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been broken hearted, and even now it takes a lot for me to give my trust to someone. But I haven’t given up hope. I still believe in love, I still believe in monogamy, and I would rather wait for a guy who’s crazy about me, as I am, than settle for a guy who doesn’t really believe in love or who is always looking for the next best thing.

  • This may seem obvious (and not as existential as the list that you made) but NEVER give up your:

    Financial well being
    Physical well being
    Social (i.e. family, friends and/or coworkers etc.) well being

    These things, though more concrete, are essential to maintaining a sense of dignity and self-respect in any relationship; romantic or otherwise. Often, the items I have listed above are the first things that an abuser will try to take from you in order to gain control.

  • This was wonderful and right on time. I’m a newlywed. I’m having problems with trusting my husband. Times I do and times I don’t. To me it seems like he has a thing at becoming too friendly with females. I just seen a text a female text him ‘killa’ as name in his phone. Then a couple minutes later I seen he deleted the text. I had a hunch and I reacted and don’t regret it. I really think I need to let this relationship go but we have two young ones which one have to have surgery and can’t leave until that is done. He comes home every night and treat me good but we barely talk. I feel like there is someone else he lusts after and has conversations with… that is why we barely talk. He shows no interest unless I talk. I’m thinking it is just his personality and it’s something I can’t deal with. So lost and confused, but this post helps me to feel better.

  • This is an amazing article and it comes on the heals of the last of our children graduating high school. I said that i would hold out any irrational (funny that was my thought at the time) decisions until all our children were grown. I have lived this craziness for the last 18 years and I am exhausted from it. The losing of friendships and isolation from people is crazy, the negative attitude and the hate is hurtful. I just want to be me. Not have to conform to the expectations of a man with the “shallow hal” syndrome as I have called it for years. It is so hurtful to be mentally abused and to feel the need to defend my choices. Thanks for writing this so I can once again remember what I am worth and that love is not a life sentence when the other person has quit loving years ago. Sometimes you have to step outside the box and realize your true value.

  • This summer will mark 2 years that I split from my boyfriend of 11 years.

    I have been through the setbacks, moments of isolation, feeling of entrapment, and ultimately changed myself so much to please and keep this person that I simply forgot who I was. I am not going to go further into my experience. Instead I am going to emphasize on my comeback.

    For the past 2 years I have been trying (painfully but with much success) to find myself once more. This takes time. Despite moving from the home we shared, and altering the routine here and there it was hard to take off at first. I spent a lot of time alone. I was smothered for so long I felt I needed to breath. This was tough because I was not letting anyone in. Friends would call but I would turn them down. I wasn’t ready to interact. I became an introvert.

    The things I used to enjoy no longer brought me joy. They brought memories that I didn’t wish to think about. So I stopped doing them. Taking pictures. Going for walks. It no longer sparked an interest.

    What did do the trick was working out. It was the only thing I could stick to. Little by little I would accept invitations from friends. Friends who truly wanted to see me bounce back. They were understanding when I wasn’t in the mood. Sometimes you just don’t wanna. I went on a few road trips with friends. And then I challenged myself into taking a trip by myself and a funny thing happened. I found my stride. I was wandering around the streets of Atlanta with my camera. I was talking to people. Taking pictures. I had fun.

    That was my 1 year anniversary flying solo. I have also met a bunch of new people along the way. Even took a chance on one particular guy which turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life (so far). Even though we were both very compatible and attracted to each other turns out that neither he or I were ready to commit or work towards a relationship: Great guy. Bad timing.

    I left that experience content because I realized at that moment what it was that I was looking for in a partner. And what my partner should bring out in me. So many of the qualities represented in this article I felt with this person. And although it was short lived I still gave it a chance. I could have easily turned down that invite.

    Almost 2 years later I can read this and reflect back on the difficult times I had post break-up. I am in a relationship with myself and it’s the best one yet. It takes a while to figure out sometimes but when you do it’s like a breathe of fresh air.

    Keep your chin up and don’t settle. Don’t get into a relationship because you are bored or scared or for some other wrong reason. Be ready to let someone in, don’t just do it out of necessity because honestly, sometimes it’s better to be alone. Do things on your own terms with no one to answer to.

  • Number 7 is especially true. I fell head over heels in love, but forgot to take my brain with me. We were in bed and I missed ME. I missed my life and at that point I realized I was not in a healthy relationship. I was willing to stay connected and do what it took to have a loving relationship, but a relationship that is based on staying silent and still is not a relationship. I walked away, as painful as it was and even though I didn’t want to, because I am the only me I’ve got. I’m choosing to trust the unfolding of my life and that love will come my way again.

  • How many people eventually give up the very things that got their partner’s attention in the first place? What masquerades as attraction is often a desire to own or control the innocent, joyful parts of you that endear you to others. They want that for themselves. Soon the first signs of jealousy and possessiveness appear and we continue to mistake it for love and affection. Jealousy turns to insults and humiliation, possessiveness turns to threats and isolation, and as has been stated several times above, we have surrendered a part of our soul. We have lost that joy, and you both wonder what happened to the person you “fell in love with.”

    You can get the joy back, though. It’s hard work. It requires some difficult self-reflection and admissions. It requires a different kind of being alone for a while. But it can be done.

  • Your family!

  • Bruno A.M.A. De Clerck
    August 15th, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Dear Angel & Marc, here Brussels calling

    I discovered your fb-page through a friend. I’m a quite demanding person, and have tried other pages like yours, often with disappointment.

    For the record, my mothertongue is Dutch, but French goes as well; Brussels is my beloved dialect, interbreeding both French & Dutch in a succulent and seducing, disarming mix. Good to know is that English became the most spoken language in my capital city, and that I love German & Spanish too, even if I miss practice.

    In this article of yours I agree on all points, except 1: the number 5: The courage and willingness to experiment with life. I agree on the global approach, but am convinced that sometimes not acting is many times better than acting, i.e. knowing you’re not experienced enough to act well enough. Some actions, you see, really need exellence. Also, in the name of well meant, a great deal of harm has been done and still is!

    Last, I doubted to subscribe to your newsletter, because you seem to sent several feeds a day. In my eyes one or two feeds a day would just do the job: less is more, is an important rule in writing.

    But, being, before and over many other things, The Poet of The Sensual Life, just notice that one of the most important things a poet does … is playing with rules and not accept such clichés as ‘less is more’ without reflecting and experimenting (here we are back to your point 5!). Sometimes less is just less, and more just more. So please continue as you please and feel you should, certainly since you invite readers and followers to give you feedback … a healthy attitude.

    Warm greetings,

    Kroko l’Eclair Joyeux, dit le Troane Bard

    PS: Poetry is just the evidence of life; if your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash (Leonard Cohen)

  • I’m dealing with the possibility of divorcing my husband of 8 years. I feel he is trying to isolate me from the people I care about such as family because of his jealousy. He is controlling with money and puts me down for being a stay at home mom. I feel I never can do anything right in his eyes. He has held me back from finishing a degree and having another child. I feel like nothing lately all my strength and belief in myself has been sucked out of me. We are trying therapy but really it’s just a continual cycle and I can’t do this.
    But we have a 5 year old son who loves his family time with mom and dad. How do you know when it’s better for the children to split or make it work? I fear if I stay to make it work then I will give up myself.

  • Along with loving yourself, you need to keep your individual identity. If you don’t like who you are when you are with someone, it’s time to change something.

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