I Should’ve Left Them at the First Sign of Trouble

One of the biggest benefits of being in a healthy, happy relationship is that it gives you clarity — it certainly does me.

I can see terribly clear now why things didn’t work out with anyone in the past and what I could’ve done differently, i.e. walking away much sooner than I did.

There was a warning sign.

There was always a warning sign — often very early on. But, back then, I ignored them because I was stupidly hopeful (or you could say I was delusional) and emotionally unavailable myself. I felt safe when I knew deep down that the relationship wouldn’t work out anyway.

Sometimes, people let red flags slide because they don’t think they’re big enough of an issue to break up over. They brush it off. They go along with the relationship. Then, one day, something serious happens: lies, abuse, an affair, and they think to themselves they should’ve seen this coming, or worse, they feel completely blindsided. But, by then, it might already be too late.

Likewise, I wasted years of my life and suffered from many traumas that, honestly, still give me nightmares to this day. And things could’ve been worse. There could have been permanent consequences.

I should’ve walked away when an ex told me via chat the first time that they were only in the country once every few months.

At that point, to me, they were only a profile on an app that, while my interest was sparked, I had no deep feelings for. I could’ve simply deleted them and that would be the end of the story.

But I continued. I didn’t ask any follow-up questions. I believed what I wanted to believe and left out the rest.

What did it cost me? I ended up bawling my eyes out in a strange country they brought me to and spending the next two years trying to get over them in a very desperate, destructive manner.

I should’ve walked away when an ex sent me an odd text message that irked me before we even met.

And then when they mentioned they had only recently gotten out of a 4-year relationship, or when I realised they only talked about themselves the whole time and asked me no personal questions, or when their actions didn’t match their words, or when my gut screamed at me that they were wrong for me.

But I continued.

You read about these red flags and their outcomes all the time, but when they happen to you, you still want to find out for yourself. Nine out of ten, you arrive at exactly where you were warned about.

I ended up having panic attacks, endless night terrors, and having to admit myself into therapy because I didn’t know what else to do. I felt like I had gone crazy, and I was scared that it might be true. It’s wild to think that my worst relationship trauma could have been avoided if I had paid attention and done the right thing the first time. Letting go would have been so easy then.

Red flags should be ‘warnings’, but in many cases, they indicate fundamental issues that can’t be solved by temporary changes or ‘waiting it out.’

They later become major problems that deeply damage everyone involved and break down the relationship to a point of no return. So they aren’t warnings after all — they should be dealbreakers from the start.

That said, now, I don’t regret having let myself hold on until I simply couldn’t anymore.

I was hurt like I could die, but I learned so much.

I’m here because I was there, and ‘here’ is better than my wildest dreams. I can’t imagine changing a thing from my past if it means my present would change. I love my life now. I love who I’ve become. I love the journey that was so messy, unique, and magical.

But I only say this because I already stopped holding on to bullshit people a long time ago. I can sit here and accept my past because I’ve moved on and I have it together now.

If you’re still in the thick of it, it’s not wise to repeatedly ignore red flags or put your feelings before reasons. It’s not good enough to say it’s just the way you are.

There’s simply too much at stake: your well-being and the time of your life that you can never get back.

At some point, you have to tell yourself, “It’s enough!” and change your way.

Did your last relationship fall apart? Is your relationship going sideway? It’s an excellent opportunity for you to learn about yourself and what you want from a partner — don’t waste it. Fail fast, fail forward, make new mistakes, and cut your losses a bit faster each time.

Don’t be afraid to be ruthless. Don’t give out second chances to undeserving people. Pay attention to that first red flag.

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