I usually avoid absolutes like “never'” and “always,” but generally speaking I think none of us want to fail, and we all enjoy the sweet taste of victory. The problem is that sometimes we overestimate our abilities or perhaps we underestimate the complexity of a situation– especially in personal relationships.
Long ago I realized that I am wired to want to exceed all expectations, and this is not a shocker to anyone that knows me. However, what I’ve also learned overtime– especially at work– is that if I don’t want to disappoint my clients or colleagues, sometimes I am just going to have to say no upfront. If the case isn’t going to be a good fit or the project is just more than what I can take on because of other commitments, then I am far better off declining the assignment upfront, and this way I’m spared the stress and aggravation that comes along with being over-extended and we all avoid the huge sting that comes with half-ass results, or a total fail.
The more I witnessed the success of saying “no” in my professional life, the more I carried this over into my personal life, and although it is a lot harder to say “no” to someone you care about, we all need to learn this skill if we want to remain sane, which brings me to my main point…
Throughout the years, I have seen a lot of crazy break-ups as a divorce attorney. Thankfully, I have not personally experienced many myself, but I have had a few, and the problem was always the same– people tried to bite off more than they could chew. Either they over-extended themselves financially or personally, and eventually the stress or resentment grew to be too much. When you personally compromise too much of yourself and your own values to try and sustain a relationship, this is going to blow up in your face– it always does, it is just a question of how long will you let things drag out.
Sometimes I think the problem stems from a lack of either self-awareness or self-confidence. Maybe people think they can make certain compromises to get the guy or gal and that these minor concessions are not a big deal? Perhaps it is the fear of being rejected? Whatever the reason, if you find yourself taking on too much or giving in too much to others, you need to find a way to stop– it’s just not healthy.
Recently, I was with a friend, who had just endured a bad break up, and I was strugging to understand how he could let things go for so long, and then he candidly admitted this: it’s like slices of salami. Each little slice you give someone seems so minor because it is just a slice, until one day you just suddenly realize you’ve given away the whole salami. As soon as he said this, I completely understood, not just what happened to him, but what happens in all these explosive episodes that seem to come out of nowhere.
Every bad breakup I have lived through or witnessed has one individual that finally realizes s/he has let things go for far too long, given in too much, and they really feel like they did not get an equal amount in return. While originally someone might have felt “lucky” to have that other person in his/her life, eventually the harsh reality that their love would never be reciprocated becomes unbearable. Inequalities in a relationship are quite obvious to outside observers, and true good friends will clue you into this before it is too late. I am eternally grateful to all of mine that helped me take off the blinders when needed.
So, if you want to avoid a disaster of epic proportions, date someone that is your equal. That is of course no guarantee that things will work out, but let’s face it there are no guarantees in life. All I can say is that in all the amicable break ups that I’ve witnessed or lived through, there was always a tremendous amount of mutual respect, understanding and admiration. Sometimes despite all that, personalities may just clash or your goals may just not be properly aligned– if you can be honest with each other and accept that fact, then it’s very easy to walk away with no hard feelings, it was simply fun while it lasted.
To all those that have shared a past with me and remain in my life, you know exactly how much I appreciate our time together and the friendships we’ve maintained over the years. Perhaps I took this evolution of our relationship for granted in the past, but I assure you I do not anymore. The honesty, integrity and self-restraint that you have all consistently demontrated throughout the years is truly amazing, and it’s why I still love you and am grateful for the role you played in making me the woman I am today. So glad none of us ever tried to bite off more than we could chew!
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.