Leaving Your Partner For Being Emotionally Unavailable Isn’t Selfish
If someone had to ask me to define relationships especially romantic ones in a simple way, I think I would go with Cold Play’s song lyrics ‘nobody said it was easy’ to explain where one should draw the line and walk out of it when it consumes you.
There is a part where lyrics go like ‘Nobody said it was easy, nobody ever said it would be this hard’, and I feel the latter should be perhaps the way to determine whether we want to stay with our partners or even loved ones: the scale of bearing with them.
As women, we are often taught to be constantly grateful if we are able to find a man who earns well, is educated, pays for household expenses, doesn’t beat us or doesn’t cheat on us. On the other hand, men are lauded with praises and are often asked the ‘secret’ behind their relationship if they take their partners out or ‘allow’ them to pursue their interests like work, education or existing as a person in the public domain.
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When the bar, spelt out for men being nothing more than decent humans, is set so low, then ultimately it is women who are the losers in relationships. Women are often found engaged in nothing but guilt trips, if they wish to seek companionship from their partners portrayed as Hydra for men, who think that emotional availability is a concept unknown to them, and is rather a biological trait only acquired by women ever since they are conceived in the womb, again, of another woman.
This whole idea of not leaving partners when they are emotionally unavailable stems from this tradeoff, where men rely on women for emotional support although never admitting it, and women rely on men, usually for financial and social security, repeating the mantra of ‘compromise’ and ‘gratefulness’ each day to keep going for eons. Families seldom support women when they want to quit abusive households so standing up for those women who decide to leave men because they are emotionally unavailable is an alien concept, and such women are instead demonized for prioritizing their mental and emotional well-being.
Nobody is saying that relationships are smooth, rather not even a single relationship in this world can exist without compromise but if one party continues to evade responsibility, and the other constantly makes up for it then the relationship will be that of a parasite and host than two beings seeking companionship.
It is not news to see women going out of their schedules to make time for their partners by juggling with their work, pacifying their families, bailing on their friends to be there for their said partners. The partner, on the other hand, will continue to remind them of that one time when they picked them up from work because the bro gang cancelled on them.
Emotional availability isn’t a Hydra, but it can easily become one if people continue to escape it. Men need to understand that women, especially women belonging to socioeconomic groups lower or equal, will always have it worse. Instead of paying some attention to the entitlement and privilege their gender and class may give them, men take up a sword to start chopping off the heads of the Hydra in their minds, forgetting that the number of heads would only grow. Instead of being present for their partners in times of need, men think that saying ‘move on’ would help their partner’s situation, easily forgetting that if the woman says the same when a boss is being exploitative will easily dub her as being insensitive and looking at the man as being nothing but the earner.
Not only work, even in matters of family lives, men just assume that the moment a relationship begins, the woman needs to imagine her life sans her family. When women try to talk about a future together, men would again remind women about how there is a lot of responsibility on their shoulders with respect to their immediate family but would take offence if told that they can’t stand up to the toxicity of that very notion. There are countless women who look after their families and are also fighting for their partners but when their partners continue to avoid their struggles and women even think of leaving, our society feels that they are selfish and ungrateful for not putting up with a man who feeds on her self-respect.
This same approach extends to monetary understandings as well, because for women, the earnings are for savings because women contributing to their households is a pack of lies because they earn only so they can go to malls and shop their heart out. Having to explain these basic things all the time can take a toll on the relationship, because while one person is willing to unpack complicated concepts like class privilege, systematic misogyny and oppression, the other will continue to stare at the watch to talk about only their problems. And if people aren’t willing to understand small things like being supportive, encouraging and paddling through problems together and would rather make everything about them then it is absolutely okay to move out of a relationship which constantly pulls you down.
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You can’t expect your partner to be there for you when you can’t even prioritize your relationship. I am sure there are men out there who try their best and in return their partners do not pay heed to them, and they too need to think about leaving, but greater chances are that they would be supported by friends and family but in the case of a woman, majority of the times, friends and family reprimand them for leaving on issues which could be ‘easily’ solved. We do not think about the number of times that person may have tried but what we see is a woman who did the impossible by choosing herself, for once.
No one is selfish for being tired of trying to make a relationship work because yes, nobody said it would be easy, but nobody ever said it would be this hard too, and sometimes going back to the start isn’t an option but reaching the end is.