when it's okay to give up


Photo by: Miki (@smithular)
How do you know when to give up on someone?

How do you know when to give up on someone who is an old friend but is also someone who is reckless and cruel to themselves or on a parent that you cannot parent or on your partner at school who hasn’t done any work yet for your project, or on a person you want to be with but might not want to be with you. . .  How do you know?

We’re taught to never give up — on our goals, our dreams, our lives. And I agree wholeheartedly that we should never give up on those things. But what about people? What about the friends or family or loved ones in our lives that we care about or perhaps even once cared about? What about them? Do we keep trying with them, too, never to even consider giving up on them?

I have been trying for what feels like a long time. I’ve been trying to be honest to someone, all while trying to be myself, all while trying to find them in what seems like a fury of words and nuances. And ultimately, this is me trying to maintain a relationship (I’m using "relationship" as an umbrella term) that we could both be happy in. I have been trying because I want to - because I feel like there is this person inside that I think I want to know and I think I want to care for.

Oftentimes when I’m overwhelmed with thoughts, I turn to my tumblr, writing and posting whatever comes to mind. I posted a very raw version of the first paragraph of this post there, and soon people began sharing their own thoughts about the subject. I love it when this happens because we all come from so many walks of life and have all sorts of different experiences that will lead us to answer questions in different ways.

K says: "You stop trying when you can no longer find yourself being happy with him. What’s the point of trying when both of you are being unhappy? If you already have given it some time for the situation to change yet nothing changes. Then it will continue to remain unchanged and you will continue to be unhappy.”

This is valid and true — the minute we are unhappy is the minute we should take a step back and reconsider everything because our happiness, in my opinion, should be a priority. But what if we are in a situation where we need to get through the storm to get to the sunlight? What if all we need to endure right now is some difficultly, some adversity, and then in the end we will find happiness? How do we know when is the right time to stop or to keep going, in hopes that there will be some sort of reward at the end?

Or should giving up even be an option at all? Someone wishes maybe they could hold on: "it’s a really delicate thing. i tend to give up on people TOO easily, actually. i wish i was one of those people that held on a bit longer…”

I thought about these answers for a long time. I didn’t expect anyone to give me a solid answer (or even an answer at all, quite honestly) because jeez, this is a hard question to answer. But I read all the replies — I read them over and over again, trying to find any part that would resonate with me, but I couldn’t. Not yet, at least.

I decided to talk to some of my coworkers (hi, guys, if you’re reading this!) about the situation, because I quite honestly could not concentrate on anything else but this person. After an evening of conversation and not doing our jobs, we decided that perhaps it was best to try once more.
And so I did.

I pulled up the message, right then and there, and all three of us stood in the back room and wrote it together. We tried being honest. We tried being myself. We tried giving him an opportunity to be himself, to clear up any misunderstood words and nuances. We tried to see if we could maintain a relationship, and we tried to see if that’s what maybe he could have wanted, too.

I did exactly what I had always been doing — try. And I did the same things I had been doing this whole time because those were the things that I thought were important. And I know — I should be also be considering the things that are important to them. But it’s hard to consider it when they don’t tell you.

There was nothing.

Viv said, "you give up when there’s nothing left to put in. when the other person stops trying or doesn’t bother to reciprocate any effort. it sounds a bit harsh but it’s quite pointless to give and give if the other person won’t even receive sometimes. :/"

After I tried this last time to no avail, I knew that Viv was right — that there was no reciprocation and there very well might not be any to come.

Keom was real with me. Like, damn. So fucking real, lol. She asked, "why would you ever want to feel like you’re constantly at war with someone?” Keom was also right. She continued to say that "when two people are in a healthy relationship, there is mutual understanding. no questions. no games. no winner or loser. you are a TEAM, you should never have to fight for what could potentially be. potential is useless, take the relationship for what it actually IS.” Well damn, Keom.

And what was the actuality of this relationship? Well, it was non existent. In any relationship — whether it be a friendship or romantic or familial or whatever other shapes relationships may take — there needs to be two parties walking hand in hand in pure agreement. Agreement to be honest, to listen, to speak, to argue but still be together, to wash dishes because the other one hates washing dishes, to be physically there, to be there in spirit because you can’t be physically be there — a spoken or unspoken agreement to whatever the two parties have decided upon.

And so with this I came up with my answer that I had been searching for while: you stop trying when the other person no longer is in agreement with you, when they are no longer in agreement with the terms of your friendship or relationship.

I see so many of my friends in friendships that are no longer about friendships but rather becoming an outlet for the other person to take advantage of and live their joined lives only abiding by the other awful person’s agreement, and I wish so badly that they could be free of the confines of a relationship that is no longer a relationship because there is no agreement or mutuality, but a situation that leaves my friends in uncomfortable spots.

After so many conversations and attempts and there is no longer a mutual agreement, that’s when you stop trying. And I think, at least, it’s okay when you do, because in our lives we deserve to have someone invest as much as we do into them.

I don’t know if this applies to every situation and to every relationship and every person. It probably doesn’t, because I don’t think there’s a universal model for anything or anyone because we are our own individuals. But perhaps this can be a thought to lull over as you get a text from an unpleasant friend asking you to meet up only so they can tell you all the details of their problems that make you uncomfortable while they never once ask about yours.

Lastly. . . I’m sure some of you are wondering — what happened between me and this person? My answer is this: I don’t know. I stopped trying.


about the photo: I asked my photographer friend, Miki, who was last week's what [ they ] said writer, if she would be willing to provide me a photograph to use for this blog post. she agreed, and so i sent her a draft of the post, and she found this photo of her mother she took. the minute i saw it i felt the same emotions i felt when writing this post: a sense of leaving something behind and moving onwards. 

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