And that’s not the same as threatening to leave.
Finding a good relationship is not unlike buying a house.
You scan online listings, or get a realtor to show you a few properties — and that feels just like swiping on a dating app, or asking a friend to set you up.
You make a list of top pics to visit (go on a date), and you try to get to know more than their newly-painted facades and renovated bathroom tiles in the short hour or so you have to spend with them.
You’re looking for structural flaws, signs of a termite infestation, or water infiltration damage.
You want to know if they’re reliable, trustworthy and capable of love despite whatever heavy baggage they still cary from past relationships — all that from little hints and clues they drop as you get to know each other.
As you pace around the house, you ask the owner questions. When was it built? Is the heating working? When was the last time you did the roof?
What do you do for a living? When was your last relationship? Do you live on your own, with a roommate, or your parents?
You look at them right in the eye and try to figure out if there’s something they’re not telling you. Something to prevent you from investing everything you have into this new vessel for your best hopes and dreams.
Then you sit down to negotiate.
And you soon find out that the more you want that house, the more desperate you are to move in and start your life in it, the higher the price you’re willing to pay.
If you look at the white walls around you and see them pink, if you overlook the warning signs that something might be crumbling beneath the surface, you might put everything you have into a money pit without even realizing it.
But if you’re willing to walk away from a gorgeous, perfect house unless you get the deal you want, on your terms, then you get to set your price.
You get what you know you deserve for exactly what you’re willing to invest.
The same goes for relationships: unless you’re willing to walk away with nothing, you’ll accept whatever deal the other side brings to the table.
Last-minute date invites. Weeks of silence to later show up out of nowhere expecting sex. A never-ending indecision about getting serious vs. keeping it casual. You always having to text first. Love-bombing you until they’re satisfied, then going mean the moment they’re bored.
Those are the kinds of deals you get when you’re not ready to walk away at the first sight your standards are about to be challenged.
It’s when you stretch your budget for a house that doesn’t meet your needs and it’s in desperate need of repairing because you’re way too desperate to change your current living arrangements.
Because you’d rather take the first half-decent deal you’re offered than continue as you are until you find something better. You let your anxiety trick you into thinking that’s your only option — especially when you’ve been looking for what seems like forever.
It’s hard to walk away. Heartbreaking, even.
But the more you do it, the stronger you become.
The more you practice upholding your standards, the easier it is to remember them the next time. And then the next. And the next.
Walking away from a deal that’s not right for you — no matter how much you want it — is not the same a threatening to leave.
Threatening to leave might make someone upgrade the deal they’re offering, but the improvement might be fleeting. It only lasts as long as their fear of you actually leaving.
Threatening to leave when you don’t actually want to is unhealthy — and it breeds codependency.
When you’re willing to walk away, you put yourself first. You turn your back to all the bad deals with the peace of mind that comes from knowing there’s a better deal out there — one that’s just right for you.
It means you’re willing to invest a lot, and you know how much that’s worth.