When to let go

Ending a relationship is more about you than her

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Why do I hang on so long to relationships I’m not into? I start dating a girl, but then know it won’t work out because we don’t sync or I’m not really attracted to her. Instead of backing out, I keep going. She ends up thinking we’re in a serious relationship while I’m wishing she was different or that I could meet someone who was a better fit. Why do I do this?

You think love is in short supply. Scarcity leads us to believe we don’t have enough—money or love or status or truth—and that we will never get enough. So we cling to whomever or whatever shows up because we’re afraid it’s all we deserve. Feeling stuck (in a relationship, job, or life circumstance) undermines a person’s self-worth. The lower it drops, the worse we feel. The worse we feel, the harder it becomes to rustle up the energy to improve our lives. At least, that’s the story we tell ourselves.

Here’s a fresh approach: Instead of focusing on what it is about a woman that you find unattractive, do the opposite. Keep your mind centered on her most attractive qualities. When you notice you’re not syncing with a woman, ask yourself what obstacle you’ve cemented into place to block the connection.

Are you too critical and controlling? Do you try to make her over into your image of the ideal mate or in the image of an ex-girlfriend? Dare to honestly assess your approach to relationships. It may be humbling to see how you have kept love at arm’s length, but isn’t it better to know?

I find myself parking my truck in an empty lot a few streets down from my house. It’s not that I don’t want to go home after work. I’m just exhausted. I feel like the 20 minutes I spend sitting is the only time I get for myself. I love my wife, I do, but I can’t get her to understand I need some time to myself. I walk in the door and it’s full-on pressure to engage. I’m overwhelmed at work and have no idea how to balance things. Please help.

Actually, you do know how to balance things and you’re excellent at it. Here’s your self-care routine: Between work and home, you slip in about 20 minutes of alone time. The problem is you don’t give yourself 100 percent permission to enjoy your break. So you sit in a parking lot and feel badly about taking care of yourself.

Let’s upend that drama. On the way home from work, find a spot that sings with natural beauty. Immerse yourself in it for 30 minutes. If guilt rushes in, sweep it away. You are not doing anything wrong. You are not a bad person. You are a man who cherishes himself and his commitments. To give fully to your family and career, your inner resources must be full. One method of replenishment is time alone. Allow yourself to enjoy daily quiet time without the distraction of self-critical thoughts. Think of it as an act of kindness for yourself, yes, but also for the world.

Meditation of the Week

“Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God,” said Richard Alpert. Where does your heart live in the time-space continuum: past, present or future?