At the ripe old age of 30, I saw him while working out at the gym. He was blond, 6′ 1″ tall, good looking, and in great shape. Our eyes met across the room several times and instead of giving him an inviting glance, I looked away. I felt awkward and nervous, my confidence faltering.
He came over and I learned he had just moved to Kansas City. At that point, I’d been living in Kansas City for almost 4 years and dated guys, but hadn’t yet met one I was truly interested in. We clicked instantly and started spending most of our time together. He was new to the area, didn’t know anyone, and we fell into an instant relationship. It truly felt like I was living the dream.
Six months after we met, my job promoted me and I relocated to southern California. My excitement of moving back home to live near my family and friends was even greater when he decided to move with me. I felt excited for him to meet my family and friends, since I thought he was the one I would marry. Little did I know at the time that this one critical move would stress me out for years to come.
Like most beginnings, things were magical. And when things are magical, it’s easy to overlook the subtle, yet critical, things that really matter.
I became stuck in the “in-between” while living with my parents.
We stayed with my parents while looking for our own place. 1 month turned into 6 months and during those months, he would tell my parents to keep the noise down, saying it was bothering me when it was actually bothering him. Although my parents showed concern for me, they never said anything bad about him. They even loaned him their car so he wouldn’t have to buy his own.
Because unhappiness set in for him soon after our move, he made molehills into mountains. Small things set him off and caused his mood to sour. He didn’t know anyone in southern California and was unhappy about the kind of people he was meeting. He was rude to my friends on the phone at times, and his dislike for traffic limited where we went.
These unsettling feelings sat in the pit of my stomach from being caught in between him and my parents … and his unhappiness. I either dismissed those feelings or talked myself into being more understanding because I thought love is innately hard and requires us to make sacrifices. After all, he made a sacrifice by quitting his job and moving with me.
Things aren’t perfect in the middle stages of most relationships. It’s during this time that it’s especially important to listen closely to your intuition.
Things turned for the worse when we started living on our own.
Six months later when we moved into our own place, I believed things would go back to being magical like they were in the beginning … they never did.
I wanted to feel optimistic about us and believed we were going to marry. There were moments of happiness interspersed with long periods of uncertainty, confusion and stress. These moments, optimism, and fears about getting older and having to start over kept me staying 4 years too long.
If I was self-aware, self-confident and courageous, our 5 year relationship would have lasted a year. Instead, I let so many things—beliefs about love being hard and sacrificing myself, fears about not finding anyone else, over-thinking things, guilt, responsibility for his happiness, etc.—keep me stuck.
The time finally came when I just knew it was over. And when I finally decided to break up with him, those unsettling feelings in the pit of my stomach dissipated and a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. The angst that filled me from sacrificing so many parts of myself made way for me to begin knowing myself.
When I knew that it was over and decided to end things, I still felt angst and great sadness. The difference was, I was more committed to loving myself by doing what was best and healthier for me.
Most endings are painful; that’s why we call them endings. Yet, endings also lead to new and wonderful beginnings.
And from these new beginnings, I found the courage to leave.
A year after our relationship ended, he contacted me and apologized for the way he was in our relationship. He said that if I still wanted to get married, he wanted to marry me. It’s ironic how the words I most wanted to hear from him back then were words that I no longer wanted to hear.
For years, I was critical of myself for being in a 5 year relationship that shouldn’t have lasted that long. I wondered why I wasn’t able to find the courage to break up sooner when the signs to leave were clearly there. Then, I remembered this quote: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes, courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow,” by Mary Anne . That is how I finally found the courage to leave.
If you know you should leave and are finding it difficult, remain patient and compassionate with yourself. I believe you are here because you’ve been courageous enough put yourself out there in the name of love. This is for sure: when you have had enough, you will just know. And when you know, that is when you’ll have the courage to leave.
If you’re feeling stuck in a relationship and know you should leave, what is one thing you can start doing?
By Krista Hammerbacher Haapala
1. He owns his power.
A quality man stands strong in his choices. He balances his time with a clear connection to his priorities. He chooses to be exceptionally committed in each of his roles whether partner, father, professional, or others. He accepts responsibility for his actions and never blames or shirks his duties.
2. He uses direct, honest communication.
A respectful man will trust you with the truth. You know where you stand. He doesn’t lie or manipulate the facts. He is confident in his ability to communicate emotion in a productive way. He seeks solutions to issues without any passive-aggressiveness or power struggle. He maintains a demeanor of patience and compassion knowing that is the strongest stance.
3. He makes you feel secure in his presence.
A man who views you as an equal wants you to feel safe. He goes out of his way to see that your needs are met. He never intimidates or bullies, and would never resort to name-calling or talking about you with anyone else. Those behaviors are foreign to him. He respects your needs and does not judge. He wants you to feel his love.
4. He is chivalrous out of caring, not obligation.
A secure man wants to pamper you out of love, not because people think he should. He trusts your ability to take care of yourself, but is fulfilled when he can do things to take care of you. He gives gifts and attention mindfully, not just when it is called for or when it suits him. He is uninterested in how things look to others, but focuses on how your relationship feels to you.
5. He accepts, but does not expect, your caregiving.
A solid man is deeply grateful for everything you do for him. He expects nothing, but accepts your caregiving for the act of love that it is. He views you as a partner, not a housemate or a mother or his personal assistant. He asks for what he needs trusting you will ask the same of him. He is quite able to take care of himself, yet gracefully welcomes the support you choose to provide.
6. He works hard and plays hard.
A mindful man knows his boundaries and maintains his wellness. He gives his best to work and family and knows when to play. He treats his body in a balanced way. Resentment has no place in his life because he makes the space for what he knows he needs for holistic health. He exudes positive energy and values fun.
7. He overestimates your abilities.
A confident man is not threatened by your abilities nor does he diminish your strengths. In fact, he sees your capability through an optimistic lens. Never comparing or judging, he upholds the vision of your potential even when you are discouraged or depleted. He delights in and celebrates your success.
8. He asks permission.
A considerate man does not tell, he asks. Respectful of your opinion, he assesses your thoughts and takes your emotions seriously. He is decisive, but not unilaterally. He attempts to maintain focus on your common goals and vision. His permission-seeking honors the equality of agency in your relationship.
9. He listens.
An attentive man leaves plenty of space for you to share. He genuinely enjoys actively listening to your perspective and thoughtfully responds. He is constantly curious and passionate about learning how you are evolving. While he looks forward to contributing to your conversations, he takes his time to hear you out. His listening is easeful and caring out of love, not duty.
10. He loves boldly.
A loving man embraces vulnerability. He touches generously to feed your spirit. He makes eye contact. He shares his emotions regularly in word and deed. With peace and stability, he gives you his heart over and over. He is steadfast in his love and trusts in your love’s return.
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Today is my birthday, I just turned 32 and am really having a hard time with it. I still feel super young and I look extremely young (people think I am around 26-27), so while I feel and look young, I am not really young anymore and it scares the absolute crap out of me. I look in the mirror and still see my young self, but the complications of life have taken over.
I worry that I will never find the guy for me and get to be a mom and then the loneliness and fear sets in and I start believing that I am finished. I have a great education, am accomplished in my career (not career-crazed though), and am a nice, friendly person – why is this so difficult for me.
Have any else out there been in this same situation? What did you do about it? Any advice? Thank you 🙂
Posted in Singles