Over the past several months, in both my personal and professional life, I have been questioned about staying in a relationship past it’s expiration date. How do you know when it is over? For some, it was over before it even began. One common mistake that women often make is to hold on to the false hope of a casual relationship becoming a committed one. This rarely, if ever, happens. People identify fairly early in their interactions whether they are interested in someone in a meaningful way, just for pleasure, or not at all. However, some still waste valuable time playing the game. As far a I know, this is our one and only life. .
If you are dating with the intention of something serious then you need to focus on efficiency. This is the only life we get. At least it is the only one that we know of. Don’t you want to spend it with someone who makes you feel good, someone you have fun with, someone special? It may take some time before you choose the right person. But if you keep at it, do the work of knowing who you are and what you want, you are sure to find it sooner or later. Better late than never!
For those of you who have been in relationships for years that have failed to thrive, ask yourself, “How long should I wait”? This question is a bit more difficult for married people and harder still for married couples with children. Marriage is a serious decision and divorce should be also. Thus, divorce should never be considered without first doing everything that you can to salvage the relationship. Only the individual knows when he or she has invested that time and energy. Do the work, so that if divorce is the outcome, you can feel confident that you did all you could to make it work. At the same time, when it’s wrong it’s wrong. So make the choice to move on.
A relationship can go from gourmet to garbage. And on some level you may sense it. The question is: Are you going to allow yourself to know? Know it, so that you can do something about it? Or are you going to live unconscious, staying in a state of denial? Denying your reality only leads to denying yourself pleasure and fulfillment. Denial prevents you from knowing what you want and thereby interferes with having it. When you get past the clouds of denial there should be a keen awareness of what you have kept in your pantry beyond its expiration date. For some it is that one thing that you are hoping will become more, but it never does. People hold on to the temporary, but immediate, gratification that comes along with great sex, fun, excitement, and good conversation, while at the same time ignoring the obvious red flags: unavailability, meanness, undependability, addictive tendencies, dishonesty, jealousy.
Angela Henry (2006) put it best when she wrote, “Most of my past relationships had the shelf life of a milk carton left sitting out on a countertop. I usually held onto them past the expiration date, pretending I didn’t notice the smell when it went bad.” All it takes is a whiff. You can smell spoiled milk the moment the top comes off. But some people just ignore it. Why, when the worst that will happen is that you will have to toss it out and go buy some more? It is okay to be disappointed, frustrated, sad and maybe even lonely. These feelings are temporary realities—just as long as you don’t let them stop you from going after the satisfaction that you desire and deserve.
Take a risk, step out of the old familiar patterns, and open the door to new hopes and possibilities. Fear too often keeps people from forward movement. Allow yourself to hope, dream, want, long, desire, plan…these are the things that life is made of. At the same time, if things don’t work out, let go and move on. You don’t have time to waste. Time is not your friend. It is not on your side, it will not wait.
It is up to you to create the life and love that you want. This is the underlying principle of The Recipe for Ecstasy. Get to know what your heart and body desires. Identify the ingredients and get to work perfecting your unique recipe. Bon appetit!