You know the lyrics from the popular song, The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers.
“You’ve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” Well as silly as it may sound, that song taught me more about relationships and boundaries than any college book, psychology class, or overpriced therapist ever could. Here’s what I learned.
You got to know when to hold’em —
Or in other words, it isn’t time to quit yet. A lot of times we like to cut and run at the first sign of trouble, rejection or discomfort but hold your horses, it isn’t over yet. In fact, it is just starting to get good. There’s still valuable things to learn, to receive, and to process in this relationship. In my years of counseling and coaching, I found a lot of people were ready to leave relationships including marriages, because the superficial reasons they got with the person in the first place were no longer satisfying. They usually expressed this to me by saying something like, “the spark is gone”, or “I just don’t feel in love with them anymore”. Well duh! The things that initially draw us to other people often aren’t enough to sustain the relationship long term. Things like looks, personality, sexual attraction, and common interests. Eventually the things that connect us have to go to a much deeper level, a level of shared purpose, passion, and destiny. In order to do that we have to get free from the fear of intimacy (in to me see). When you are feeling a disconnect towards the other person oftentimes it’s a block or a wall in your own heart. So just when you think it’s time to let go, instead it’s really just time to let the other person deeper inside.
You got to know when to fold em —
You’ve been to this rodeo several times, you got the t-shirt and the mug, and you’ve held on long enough. You have done your own heart work and dealt with your own junk, but nothing is happening and it’s not going to because this relationship is stalemated. It’s time to admit it isn’t going to get better, and it’s time to lay down your hand. Stop fighting, stop grieving, stop trying to make it work out the way you want it. I know it’s hard but you can’t stay here and you can’t keep wishing it would be something that it isn’t, that it used to be, or that it never was in the first place, except in your own mind. And finally you have to stop trying to win, to have the last word and to prove that you’re right. Moving on doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a healthy person. Putting others health and wellbeing above your own doesn’t make you noble, it’s a first class ticket to a place I like to call nervous break-town, population you!
Know when to walk away —
To walk on, shake it off, let it go. Stop chasing what doesn’t want you and chalk it up to divine rejection which at worst is redirection and at best is protection. It’s time for a new beginning and that always requires necessary endings.
And last, but most importantly — Know when to run! —
There are times when you gotta physically run away. Don’t walk to the nearest exit RUN! Get the heck outta dodge. These endings might require you to change your phone number, your job, your friends, and maybe even your home address. You have to put on your Forrest Gump tennis shoes for this one because if you don’t you are going to get tangled back up with this toxic situation, and the sequel to this bad movie will be much worse than the first.
I have lived every one of these types of relationships and I know some of you have too. So, the next time you need relationship advice just sing this little song, decide which category you fall into, and act accordingly.