To hold on or to let go: that is a question many people ask themselves at some point in their lives, and one that I spent two years (half) of my relationship asking myself. In hindsight, I realized that it was unfair to both my partner and myself to stay in a relationship that I felt so unsure about. I hope this guide helps you in answering this dreadful question: to hold on or to let go.
Hold on if:
- Your partner makes you a better person. Does your partner encourage you to grow? Does your partner challenge you? Push you? I learned that it is very important to be with somebody who genuinely wants the best for you and isn’t shy about it. Your partner shouldn’t be afraid to challenge you.
- You feel happier with your partner than you do when you’re without them. Do you find yourself constantly thinking of your partner and missing them when you’re not with them? If yes, that’s a strong indicator that your partner makes you happy and that’s what’s ultimately important.
- You share similar goals with your partner. You both want to live in a quiet little beach town? You both want children? You both want to invest your money in traveling? These are all very important things to agree on. You may love your partner to pieces, but what if they want children and you don’t? One of you will be sacrificing and most likely end up resentful, and that’s no way to live. Believe me, there is someone out there who wants to live in that beach town with you and have six children (all girls) with you and will want to spend thousands of dollars traveling with you.
Let go if:
- Seeing your partner for the first time in a week doesn’t make you smile from ear to ear and beam brighter than the sun. If you aren’t absolutely thrilled to see your partner, believe me: you can live without them. You’d probably be happier. The last six months of my relationship, I put off plans with my boyfriend. Even if pushing back plans meant just for a couple days. Why stay in a relationship with someone you don’t get excited to see? You should always be high on excitement during the time you get to spend together.
- You’re not happy anymore or something is missing. This is how I felt for two out of the four years I was with my partner. Again, in hindsight, I realized it was wrong to stay for so long – we both could have spent that time with people more suitable for us. But I stayed. Miserable. And I wish someone had told me that I was an idiot for wasting my time with someone who I was not happy with.
- Your partner has betrayed your trust in any way, shape, or form. Without trust, you don’t have a relationship – one that will work, anyway. You deserve to be with someone who will not test or betray your trust.
- You don’t respect your partner or your partner doesn’t respect you. Like trust, mutual respect is critical in any relationship. If you criticize or scrutinize your partner (or your partner criticizes or scrutinizes you), it’s not healthy.
- You’ve been thinking of letting go. The fact that you’re even contemplating letting go means that you aren’t as happy as you can be and things aren’t as perfect as you may be trying to convince yourself.
- You want different things in life. Consider this: your dream is to be a Journalist in a big city and your partner’s dream is to be a Geologist in the boonies. If one of you is not willing to give up your dream (and you shouldn’t have to) then it simply won’t work – unless you are OK with being in a long distance relationship/marriage.
The last point I want to make is one that hits home for me: just because your partner is a great person, doesn’t mean they are the person for you. This is what I struggled with for so long – this is what kept me holding on to my relationship for two years before I finally understood this. The guy I dated for four years was an amazing person. He was passionate, ambitious, determined, friendly to everyone, and very well-liked. He treated his family, friends, and neighbors with the utmost respect and gratitude. He loved me with every fiber of his being, remained faithful to me throughout our entire relationship, and moved two states to be with me. He was a great person, but he wasn’t the person for me. And that’s okay. Think about it this way: do you have any close friends of the opposite sex who you think the world of but would never consider dating them? That’s because not every great person is meant to be with you. You will meet a ton of wonderful people and you’re not going to marry all of them. What it really comes down to is: be with someone who makes you happy, inspires you to be the best version of yourself, and wants the same things in life as you do. Of course, there will be compromises to make and things won’t always be perfect – but when you’re with the right person, you will want to go to the end of the world and back for them, and you’ll know they want to do the same for you, too.
Words by Kristina S. // Photography by Jenieva Lebsack