“I feel stupid. I stayed in the wrong relationship for too long. It recently broke down and I knew it would. It was a mutual thing and I kind of felt relieved, because I knew it had to happen, but I’m frustrated at myself for not having the courage to leave earlier. I feel like I’ve just wasted a lot of time, but I was comfortable and I didn’t want to let go and have to start over. Now I am starting over anyway, only now I’m older. I’m finding it difficult to let go of this, because it’s time I can never get back and it’s time I could have spent actually finding the right person.”
This post is part of the ‘Ask Ell’ Agony Aunt Series. Simply write in with your questions or dilemmas here & Ell will get back to you with personal advice.
Dear Miss Regretful,
Okay, so first up, I completely understand your frustrations because I did exactly the same thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure everyone will feel like they stayed in the wrong relationship for too long, at some point or another. The thing is, what is ‘too long’? Who’s measurement are you going by for this?
Because on the flip-side… you could have left when you thought you should have, but then had the constant ‘what ifs‘ around whether you gave up too soon.
Yes, you were comfortable. Yes, you were scared. But I’m pretty sure there will have been more reasons for staying than just this alone. If you lost the spark, maybe you were hoping it would come back. If there were issues in the relationship, perhaps you were wishing they could be fixed.
It’s very easy to look back in hindsight and see what you think you should have done. But, shoulda, woulda, coulda. Who cares?
Maybe at that moment in time, you were doing the best that you could. Even if you were aware at the time that there were things that weren’t right and you probably SHOULD leave, there was still something stopping you from leaving because you hadn’t quite grown into the person that you are now. Don’t beat yourself up about that.
The fact that things ended amicably shows that the relationship wasn’t all bad. You’re a real person, not a cold, heartless STONE! This person was with you through some of your greatest years, best experiences, and even some of the bad times too. It’s naturally going to be very daunting to let that go and carry on your path alone – so you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself just because it took you a little longer to prepare for this.
If you’re over your ex, when you think back to the relationship, don’t look at it as wasted time. Instead, think about the good times and the things you’ve gained…
- What did you do in that time?
- Which good times DID you have?
- What happy memories are there?
- What life lessons did you learn?
- How are you going to move forward positively now?
You can actually use this to be the best turning point of your life. This can be where it all changes. And it may well be that you needed that length of time with your ex to create it.
Take me for example – I stayed in the wrong relationship for four and a half years. If I’d have been the person I am now, back then, I wouldn’t have even gotten into it in the first place. Or if I had, it probably would have been over within the first six months. Uh huh, that means I could see it as YEARS wasted. Only it wasn’t, not really. Because in the last year since leaving, I’ve seen more growth than I had in all of those years of being with him. And I think because it was SO bad for SO long, that’s what created the drastic change. I needed it for this huge transformation.
The way I see it – the good times have simply created some happy memories that I can look back on and laugh or smile about. And the tough times have become my greatest life lessons, shaping how I will approach new relationships now.
You also need to experience those lessons first hand. After all,
You can know things ‘in theory’ but until you experience them yourself, you don’t fully appreciate or understand them.
Every relationship is just a phase in our life. Your last relationship may have lasted a little longer than anticipated, but who cares? There’s no point looking back anymore. It’s done, it’s over. The future is the exciting part now.
You could spend so much time going over past mistakes, but you can’t change them. You can’t take back that time. If you’re conscious of time, choose now to not waste anymore time mulling over it!
If you want to let go, work on changing the way that you see it. And if you want to feel better about it – simply vouch to never make that same mistake again moving forward. That’s good enough to give you the closure around the niggling thoughts, if you let it be.
As for wasting time when you could have been finding the right person. Well you have to be the right person to find the right person.
Were you the right person back then, or has this been the turning point now? Has this actually been a key stage in the making of you?
Staying in the wrong relationship has taught you a hell of a lot. You’ve learnt not only WHY that person wasn’t right and what was missing, but you’ve also probably learnt a lot about yourself too. Where did your mistakes lie? How could you have been a better person and partner? You can use this FRUSTRATION around your last relationship and channel it into FOCUSING on working on you.
Don’t rush to find someone now, or feel the pressure to find someone. Take time out for you and trust the process.
I don’t know what you believe about fate, soul mates or anything like that, but have you ever thought that maybe the right person for you is on a similar journey? And in order for your paths to align, you had to go through what you went through?
Maybe if you’d have left earlier, you wouldn’t have gotten the grown you needed, you would have jumped into something else with someone else too soon, and you therefore wouldn’t end up finding the person who IS right for you. You never know, do you?
You decide which way you choose to look at this…
So choose to replace those negative beliefs, with more optimistic, empowering ones. Who says what is or isn’t the right answer? The most important thing is you BELIEVE what you live by and choose to live by the thoughts that support and encourage you.
Some recommended reads to head on over to from here:
- How To Learn From Your Past Relationship
- Letting Go Of The Mistakes You Made (Like Staying In The Wrong Relationship)
- How To Change The Way You See Situations
- The Four-Step Formula to Bouncing Back
- How To Stop Being So Hard On Yourself
Hope this helps! Take care. And oh – when you are ready to meet the right person, have a look at this. That will make the process far easier and more effective.
All the best!