Hurt can be a motivator of change. Call it ‘hitting rock bottom,’ ‘hitting the wall,’ or simply having had enough, there comes a time when you may think “I can’t do this anymore!”
What ‘this’ is varies from situation to situation. Maybe it’s too many responsibilities. Maybe it’s repetitive and angry conversations. Maybe it’s sexual intimacy with a partner who does not make you feel safe. Maybe it’s staying in your relationship at all.
While it feels hard, and the hurt is great, hitting the wall can actually be a new beginning for you and, possibly, for your relationship. An excellent example is the discovery of an affair that leads some couples to finally double down and seriously engage with fixing their issues. The basic question, as I see it, is when you hit the wall, will you choose leaving/escape or try to rebuild something new?
The first step to figuring out which it will be is, I believe, a conversation with yourself. How important is this thing that you’ve had enough of? Is it a relationship deal breaker for you, or something else? If it’s a relationship deal breaker – something you MUST have in order to stay with your partner, then it’s time for a completely honest conversation with him/her/them. “I can no longer do X. Here is what hurts. We will either need to change X radically or I will need to leave the relationship.”
If you decide that your hurt is not a deal breaker, but still really important, then work on what you yourself can change and what you need your partner’s engagement for. Once you have your own plan in place it is easier to go to a partner and also ask for radical change.
All said, pain is pain, and feeling the deep hurts that Gorman writes about is never fun. But it doesn’t always need to indicate the end of a relationship. Sometimes coming to terms with that pain can motivate substantial change.
➤ ADHD Couples Palooza Nov 10-12. FREE resource by top experts. My interview "Will this relationship ever get better?" airs Friday, November 10, 2023. Register for free There is plenty to glean from this deep dive into partnering with neurodivergent people.
Resources For those in relationships impacted by ADHD