Take middle child syndrome, forever overlooked in favor of someone else. Then take a lonely marriage where I was rendered invisible over time. Combine the two and wait for the reaction.
Instead of collapsing in on myself, I’ve actually expanded my life to draw close all of the people I hold dear.
But I’ve also begun to evolve in other ways. When I came out of my marriage, I began redefining my whole life. I’m more myself now than I’ve ever been, and I entered the dating world with optimism and interest.
Quickly, I realized that the dating world has changed since I last participated. For better or worse, I’ve seen the last of second chances. I’ve simply become too direct for games or having my time wasted.
When we’ve wasted plenty of time on the wrong ones, we often choose to change the rules of engagement.
I don’t think this attitude makes us colder. I think it makes us bolder. Stronger. Less willing to settle for less than we deserve. More confident and secure. And I think it allows us to enrich our time with relationships that fulfill us rather than drain us of the reserves of energy we need to live deep, authentic, beautiful lives.
I feel that there are times we just need to cut our losses and move on. So, here’s my no-bullsh*t, straightforward guide to cutting our losses.
1. We’ve all heard the saying about not making someone a priority who treats us like an option, right? This could not be more true. When someone shows us through their actions that we are not valued, we need to pay attention, accept it (no excuses) and move on.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve been hit with some bullsh*t excuse for a lack of contact that really just amounted to a lack of consideration. When this happens once, we can accept it as a matter of circumstances. When the action is repeated, this is an ongoing behavior that shows clearly where we rank in importance in their lives. We can choose to continue to be treated like we don’t matter, or we can cut our losses and go.
2. Pay attention to the red flags. I’m not talking about individual quirks that we can handle. I’m talking about the big signs that someone is not who we need. For example, I’m simply not able to be with someone with low self-esteem. It’s not our job to make other people feel good about themselves. It’s our own responsibility to have healthy self-esteem, and when I notice those red flags, I act accordingly and cut my losses.
Equally, as a feminist, I’m not able to deal with people who have negative attitudes about women or issues with gender equity. Whatever our particular preferences, we all have aspects of ourselves that we need to respect, and to honor our intuition, we need to pay attention to what’s actually going on and not just what we want to believe.
When we realize that a major red flag is in play, we need to respectfully (and always kindly) call it and move on.
3. Think hard before reuniting with an ex. This person is an ex for a reason. Has that reason completely changed? Or is it just convenient to try again at the moment? If there hasn’t been significant change, why would we go back and repeat the same cycle?
Sure, we may have love for that person; maybe we always will. But when someone shows us who they are with their actions (not what they say with their words), we need to believe them and act on that information and not this fantasy of what we want the relationship to be. Giving out second chances in this type of situation often leads to more heartache so we need to think carefully before proceeding.
This is my short list to cutting our losses. We could probably think of 100 more reasons why second chances are generally a bad idea. Just like we could easily imagine 100 reasons why sometimes we just have to follow our hearts, even if those hearts break. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of guide.
In the end, our intuition is going to speak to us individually based on our own lives, needs and experiences. I can’t say “never give a second chance.” Lord knows I handed one out to the very person who shattered my heart only to end up in the exact same situation about a week or two later. I don’t even regret it—I needed to know. But I am more reluctant now to give out second chances as a result because I don’t think everyone deserves one. And oftentimes my heart is telling me that it’s not the right choice.
My point is that we simply need to put ourselves first in relationships when it comes to respecting and caring for our fragile hearts. No one else is going to protect them for us. And while we do need to honor what they feel, we also need to be smart about our choices. Are we learning from them? Are we making our lives better? Or are we just repeating the same cycle, never taking responsibility for our role in that cycle?
Today, I think I’ve seen the last of the second chances. Maybe tomorrow something will happen that makes me feel differently. I just know that I don’t want to waste my time anymore on the wrong people. The people who add little to our lives but take so much. The people who drain our energy and keep us constantly waiting. Those people don’t need our second chances. They won’t learn from them. It won’t make us feel better or make them any more willing to be respectful of our needs or our time.
So let’s just cut our losses. Let’s be kind but move on. Let’s simply agree that this cannot continue, and let’s go forward to find something that will bring gladness to our lives and not simply be an additional burden to carry.
We aren’t cold. We aren’t unfeeling. We’re just ready to spend our precious time and energy on people who honor that with their own.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Hillary Boles/Flickr
Editor: Emily Bartran