They say love is a losing game, and they’re not wrong. But that isn’t how I see it. I think of love as a learning game, and it’s okay to love and “lose,” as long as you learn something from your loss, so come next time you toss the dice, you’re that much more equipped to cope with the next shitty relationship you roll, and again with the one after that.
It’s easy to get sucked into and stuck in a shitty relationship. I speak from experience. Bad relationships rewire brains. Good ones do this too, but differently. Bad relationships are liable to do considerable damage, some of which may heal naturally after the relationship has ended, and some of which may linger on for years, if not a life time.
Originally, I planned to write a featured list of warning signs to look for in your partner and avoid. But if the person I am now had warned Past Me not to go forward with my past relationships, Past Me would have gone forward anyway, that stubborn bitch. And she would have been right to do so, because if Past Me hadn’t “made those mistakes” (as some might call them), she would have never had the chance to blossom into the awesome person I am today.
The truth is, most relationships end, and many of the ones that last aren’t necessarily “successful.” So to define a relationship that ends as one that failed is not only unrealistic, but counterproductive. In the game of love, the points are cumulative. Every relationship, you level up. You become stronger and more resistant. More mature and realistic. More compassionate and understanding of your partner. More compassionate and understanding of yourself. More aware of what you need and what you want… and what you definitely don’t. A better communicator. Etcetera.
It can take a few bad relationships just to learn to identify them, let alone get out of them. And that’s why I can’t tell you to end a shitty relationship. You have to learn your own lessons and make your own decisions. But that’s not to say I can’t be a guiding light flickering in the back porch of your mind. There are some things in life we simply have to learn by doing. So do them, if you insist, but let yourself learn and grow, and when it’s time to end it, let it go.
Today goes down in history, because a dear and wild friend of mine is spending this morning (and so am I) in a courtroom opposite her ex-boyfriend, who faces a restraining order for violating her basic rights as a woman. Pardon, as a human* (this is Feminizm Friday, after all). My friend, who’s real name I decline to state—let’s call her MO-Money, sits opposite her ex today to defend her right to be free and feel safe in her own home, and it took enormous strength for her to do it, and a looooong time, let me tell you. So this is just to say, MO-Money: Atta girl.
Most of the women I’m close with have, at some point or another in their romantic careers, encountered the crazy one. The psychopath. Always a real charmer, sense of humor, real fun to be around… at first. And when we meet the crazy ones, to say we fall for them would be an understatement. Try a thousand-foot drop over the edge of a waterfall, plummeting to its rocky bottom. Try hurtling out of an airplane 30,000 feet above the ground just to discover you don’t know how to release the parachute. That’s how hard you’re going to fall for the person who tears you apart. And that’s why it can be so hard to leave them, and so hard to let them go. And that’s why I’m so proud of MO-Money, and of myself, and every person who’s ever had the balls to say that they deserve better than that.
I never found the strength to say that to my ex. The only good thing my psycho ever did for me was leave me, because I never would have left. But since he did, I know I deserve better now, and so now I demand it. But for those of you still stuck—if we made it through, you can too, and best of luck.