I was texting with a girlfriend a few weeks ago. She’s someone I’ve only known for a few years, and when I met her, she was dating my boyfriend’s best friend. We connected instantly and began texting and making dates for the four of us to get together.
When I first met them at a party on my second date with the man I’m with now, she was quiet and he wasn’t. He drank a lot and she didn’t. They seemed happy enough, though.
I learned they’d moved in together a few years earlier. He wanted to get married and have kids, but since her divorce when she was 30, she wasn’t sure if marriage was for her.
We got to know each other. We grew to trust each other. But something changed one night when I had a concern about my boyfriend and I asked for her advice. After all, she’d known him for a lot longer than I had.
I have a question for you. Woman to woman. Just between us? I wrote.
She said of course.
After we texted late into that night, I felt better, and knew she was someone I could count on. She obviously felt the same because not long after that, she began opening up to me about her relationship — her boyfriend’s drinking problem, money issues, the lack of sex.
“I love him, though,” she told me.
I asked her if her love for him was enough for her to stay.
It took her a few months to realize it wasn’t, and they went their separate ways.
The conversation I had with my friend wasn’t the first time I’ve had this kind of exchange with another woman.
The only reason I was able to ask her if loving him was reason enough for her to stay was because it’s been asked to me before. A few times over, if I’m being honest.
When my ex-husband and I divorced, we loved each other, but it wasn’t enough to keep our marriage glued in place.
Then there’s my friend from high school who has gotten physically attacked by her boyfriend. He calls her a cunt, pushes her around — and then she changes the locks and lets him back in.
“I love him,” she tells me when I ask her why she’s putting up with that.
(Side note: “love” is never enough when it comes to abusive relationships — you have every right to leave those.)
This isn’t even limited to romantic relationships. When I was struggling with a friend a few years ago, another girlfriend told me it sounded like I was over the friendship and asked why I hadn’t moved on.
“I enjoy her company sometimes.”
“But is it enough? It sounds like she’s sucking your soul dry.”
When you’re in a relationship, whether it’s with a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a friend, or a parent, there are times when you can love them and yet still walk away. Because there are times love isn’t enough. It doesn’t have to be an abusive situation, either.
This is the way I look at it: If there is more bad than good happening and you feel like you are chipping away at yourself by being a willing participant in the relationship, that’s reason enough to get out of it.
It’s okay if you love them. That’s totally allowed.
But when loving someone also leaks poison into your life and is affecting things like your work, your other relationships, and your sleep, it’s time to take a hard look at what your life would be like if you unpacked that baggage.
My ex and I loved each other, but not in a way that would sustain a healthy marriage.
I loved my friend, but she was disrespecting me and taking advantage of me.
My friend loved her boyfriend, but she knew they would never have the kind of future she wanted because of some of the habits he wouldn’t clean up despite talking about them several times.
There are those who say things like, “If you love each other enough, you will work it out and get through anything.”
Love can’t carry you through a relationship that’s making you feel like shit and affecting your mental health.
Well, not love for another person anyway.
The only kind of love that will withstand any storm and beat everything that comes in its way is the love you have for yourself.
So often we forget to love ourselves first; to love ourselves enough to walk away from someone who is chipping off pieces of us.
We put our love for them before our love for ourselves.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you can love someone and not want them in your life anymore. The story that we need to stick it out and “love will conquer all” really needs to be over with. It’s okay to choose to love yourself over everyone else.
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