When I was a teenager, I started dating a guy who had it all: He was smart and kind and very attractive.
At least, that’s what I thought when we first got together.
But several months in, I started noticing a change in him. He stopped being the caring, considerate boyfriend I fell so hard for.
He stopped having the positive outlook I had seen and loved in him.
Suddenly, he became distant. Irritable. Angry, even.
I didn’t understand what was wrong with our relationship. I assumed his behavior was my fault, so I re-doubled my efforts to make it work.
When he stopped coming to see me because he was too “busy” with work, I would cancel other plans and travel 7 hours roundtrip to spend time with him on weekends.
When he stopped making any attempt to interest himself in my life, I still supported him and attended all his events. I would stand in the sidelines and put on a brave face, hoping it would all work out somehow.
When he starting hiding messages from a woman he assured me he no longer cared about, I just held my head up and tried not to cry.
But deep down, I was in turmoil. I had no idea what to do. I felt trapped and scared and alone.
Despite everything he was doing to cause me pain, the thought of losing him was devastating.
In the midst of unending changes that were uprooting my life at the time, I clung to him as the only constant I thought I had.
To me, losing him would mean losing everything.
But what I didn’t realize back then was that I wasn’t losing anyone: My then-boyfriend was choosing to lose me.
It’s interesting: I was so focused on trying to be good enough for him that I didn’t stop to ask myself if he was good enough for me.
By leaving me, he taught me one of the most painful, yet necessary lessons I’ve ever learned:
If you have to force it, it’s not for you.
This applies to virtually everything:
- You can’t force someone to love you.
- You can’t force someone to hire you.
- You can’t force someone to see how amazing you are.
- You can’t force your jeans from middle school to fit.
. . .
The reality is, life becomes much simpler when we stop forcing things and just let what is meant for us come when the time is right.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we should just sit around all day, staring at that spot on the ceiling and waiting for things to come to us.
But it does mean this: You won’t find your answers by spending all your energy forcing or pleading or begging for one particular outcome.
As you know, I’m saying this from experience. I used to be the person who begged someone who was clearly a terrible fit to stay in my life.
I look back now and think: “What in the world was I thinking?”
As you can probably imagine, life has gotten a lot easier now that I’m out of that relationship.
I no longer fight for things. I’m no longer stressed about keeping people in my life who don’t want to stay.
If someone doesn’t want to date me or work with me or be around me, that’s perfectly okay — I don’t spend my time worrying about things like that anymore, and it has made me a much happier person.
I learned the hard way that you can use up all your energy and peace of mind forcing a particular outcome, but it will still backfire in the end.
Not everyone is going to like you, and not everything is going to have meaning for you. That’s a good thing.
. . .
Take a moment and think about all the things you’re forcing in your life right now.
Maybe you’re forcing a relationship to work, as I did, or maybe your situation is completely different.
But no matter what it is, I hope you’ll learn from my mistakes. Honestly.
As I’ve realized, life becomes so much easier when we let go of what isn’t meant for us so we can focus our energy on what is.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.
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