I think it’s time to check out once you stop being able to give it 100%.
Watching someone spin their wheels wasting potential is hard, particularly when it involves a relationship. Rarely are these people happy with what they are doing, but so often they seem oblivious to the fact that they are not happy. Well, more accurately, they seem oblivious to the fact that things don’t need to be the way they are. They forget that they have the free will to change the situation, to make it or seek out something that is better. When asked about it, they seem to think that they’ve invested so much time into it, that it would be a shame to walk away without making sure it wasn’t going to work. This only makes sense if they know how to identify when it is not going to work out, but most people have no idea how to.
One of the first indications that things have hit the wall is when you stop giving a relationship your all. Lets face it, falling in love is nice and kind of irrational. It’s impossible to fall in love with someone you can’t love. You may be able to fake it, but it isn’t love. True love requires a leap of faith that you will take only if you feel a connection to another person. You need to be willing to give it your all because, it you ever stop and think about it, you may find yourself questioning the logic of your decision. Love is an all or nothing thing and it requires complete buy-in from both parties. The state of being in love is sufficient enough to prevent you from judging your partner harshly for things that you do not like. Feeling contempt towards another is impossible if you are in love, even if their actions are contemptuous.
Take one of your a love relationships that ended and think about the circumstances surrounding the breakdown and its eventual end. At the beginning they could do no wrong. You felt good being around them and the little things that you would usually find annoying were cute, funny or just little quirks. They’ll often stand out in your mind because you find them really annoying, but since they are the way your partner is, you start to consider them just part of how they are. You know they are harmless so you let it all go, but they are still annoying – her laugh pitches so high that it could break a glass, his constant “that’s what she said” joke to everything is classless, but you love them so it doesn’t really matter. You change your perception and presto, the annoying becomes part of the package that you love. You buy in and everything is fine.
Until one day when you find yourself not telling them a joke or a story because you don’t want your skin to crawl in response to her laugh or hear him say “that’s what she said” when you tell him about your mothers knitting group being too large to be fun anymore. They’ve worn a little thin on you, altering your perception isn’t so easy anymore so you alter your behavior. It doesn’t seem like a big deal because you know that you knew it was annoying before and you’re aware that things fade over time. Hey, that’s part of relationships and you’ll learn to avoid setting up the joke or making her laugh. Strange though, you’re changing yourself, not your perception but your behavior. Suddenly you are not being yourself anymore and you stop giving the relationship your all – when you give it 100%, you are being yourself, nothing is censored and you are being with all of your passion. It’s easy to sustain because it requires no thinking, just pure living. But once you start to alter your personality, you begin to give less and less of yourself. That can’t be good.
Of course it isn’t good because the next thing to appear is contempt. You will begin to resent the other person because they are not letting you be you, or you feel that you have to change what you give because of how they will interact with it. Contempt is one of the key signs that a relationship is in serious trouble. It indicates that a value judgment has been made and that you (the holder of contempt) has placed the other on a lower level and therefore worthy of less respect. Since people tend to act in a very self interested way, feelings of contempt will be followed by a further withdrawing – why would you invest in someone who you have little respect for?
Well, the pattern holds this to be true, you don’t invest, you begin to give less and less. The loving relationship that you gave 100% to starts to get less of your effort and passion. It is usually at this point when it has ended, but since you don’t want to walk out on the time investment you have put in and since you don’t know how to identify that it is over, you stay in it. Another couple of months (years) should be sufficient enough for you to realize that it is over and has been over for a very long time. Problem is, you can’t be friends anymore because your contempt has long since turned into hate and since you didn’t have the self-awareness to identify that the relationship has been over for a long time, you likely blame the other person for wasting so much of your time.
Well, here is the cold hard truth, you are to blame because you didn’t pay attention to the signs that things had gone south. We’re dealing with love here, one of the greatest emotional states of being that human kind can engage in, but also one of the least understood and illogical experiences on the planet. You were able to over look some very annoying behavior because you were in love with the person. Okay, you altered your conscious perception of the annoying behavior but you cannot influence your unconscious perception of it and this is where the difficultly lies. Your unconscious brain takes in and processes a lot of information that you are completely unaware of. Since the unconscious brain doesn’t really have a direct voice, you are never really aware of the results of this processing. However, it does tend to manifest itself in emotional states and gut feelings – remember the first time you didn’t make a joke and then thought “I don’t want to hear her laugh”? That was your unconscious mind directing your behavior. It is more powerful, or, more honest than your conscious mind because you cannot interact with it as efficiently. Remember when you withdrew slightly but didn’t know why? He asked you what was wrong and you said “nothing” when you both knew there was something wrong. Again, that is your unconscious mind telling you something very important. Even if you don’t know what it was, you DID experience the decrease in engagement; people who give 100% do not withdraw. They just don’t, that not what full engagement is all about. Sorry, the warning signs were there, you decided not to listen to them because, well, you didn’t and that’s all I’m going to say about that part of it.
So why should you watch for the behavioral manifestation of your unconscious mind? Simply put, if you feel in love in the first place, you already did listen to it. Think about it, if love was a conscious thing, you’d be able to fall in love at will with whomever you wanted – the rich unattractive guy could be the man of your dreams, the beautiful girl with a keen eye for antiquing and adopting vicious cats could be your wife, if only you could get on board with it. But that isn’t love. Love is an emotional state and it comes from the unconscious mind. Our species, and those species that we came from, have been mating for millions of years. Given that mating predates language, who we select as mates is determined almost exclusively by non-verbal factors. Your conscious brain is close to powerless to impact the process because it is so new on the evolutionary scene.
I can’t stress this point enough. As an individual, you are driven to keep the species alive through procreation. You are naturally going to seek out the best mate because this will result in the best offspring. Since the conscious mind plays almost no role in this process, your emotional state will impact it more completely – the best mate will appeal to you for unconscious reasons vs. conscious ones. Now given that you are directed by it to find a mate, you should also be in tune with it to let you know how things are going in the relationship. While there is no physical separate between the conscious and unconscious mind, each aspect of thinking has certain advantages over the other. In the case of the unconscious mind, it tends to work with nonverbal communication and other paralanguage components and create an emotional state based on the outcome. It is much better at picking up when it’s time to get out of a relationship because it isn’t going to be worried about all the time that has been invested in a relationship, it’s too busy worrying about finding an ideal mate and making the species stronger.
If you want to save months of your life and a lot of your immediate happiness, start identifying, accepting and actioning on the outcome of your unconscious thoughts. When it comes to love and relationships, since you can’t logically talk yourself into it, don’t use logic to keep yourself in it.