‘Quiet Quitting’ is a term we were confronted with a lot over the past summer. It refers not actually to quitting, but to setting boundaries within your job. You begin doing only what you’re paid for rather than going above and beyond. When an employee quiet quits, they work only within their defined hours and stop being pushed to extremes.
When I read about the trend, I personally didn’t see much of an issue with it. I think for too long, companies have held extreme power over employees, and that’s finally changing with the new generation. I think doing what you’re paid for isn’t an absurd notion. But that’s a topic for another day.
It’s only recently that I began wondering if quiet quitting can extend past the workplace. Maybe we can quiet quit friendships, where we don’t engage in a large confrontation but rather phase them out slowly and withdraw slightly. And I definitely think we can quiet quit relationships, because that’s exactly what I did a year ago.
My Borderline Personality Disorder comes with a lot of fun quirks, such as a paralysing fear of abandonment, a need to constantly earn my worth and a tendency to get a little obsessed about things - as you can imagine, my dating profile is delightful!
In relationships, I am constantly terrified that the other person is going to leave me and so I go above and beyond to keep them. I try to take care of them, I put them before myself, and I sacrifice every part of me that they don’t like. And while that could sound pleasant for the other person, it definitely isn’t, as it comes with resentment, jealousy and anger when they don’t do the same for me.
After four years in my turbulent relationship, I was exhausted. I could no longer keep squeezing myself into this tiny box. I was resenting my partner more and more for everything I had given up for them. I was tired of being both a parent and a partner to them, and it had taken a huge toll on our intimacy.
I had nothing left to give. So the simple answer would be to break up with them, right?
Hello, fear of abandonment! I was scared that no one else could love me. My struggles with mental illness make me feel like I’ll always be too much, I didn’t think anyone else could handle me or even want to. I thought that this was all I deserved.
Additionally, I was scared of being left to my own mind, of losing the distraction of them. They had become a comfort to me, they had been there when my father passed away, they were all I knew.
So I didn’t break up with them, and as a result, the resentment grew between us. I was quiet quitting, a year before I even knew the word. I stopped going above and beyond and did what was expected. I stopped forcing myself to be intimate and accepted that I didn’t feel that way often anymore. I acted like a girlfriend, not a partner, not a parent, but just their equal.
They noticed the difference quickly. They told me that I was acting distant, that I wasn’t being myself, that I was being mean. I probably was, but it was also just the contrast of everything I was before.
I discovered that they were messaging someone who was certainly more than a friend. We argued about it but I gave in quickly. I didn’t believe them but I also didn’t have the energy to fight anymore. If they wanted to be unfaithful again, they would be. It wasn’t my responsibility to stop someone from cheating on me.
In the end, he was the one to initiate the breakup, and it was a huge relief for us both. I agreed immediately, and he wasn’t surprised by that. He said that I had stopped being so upset when we argued, and that was a sign to him. My fear of abandonment used to make me beg him to stay, to love me, to want me. But I had stopped begging, and I guess he missed that.
Looking back, I wish we both hadn’t waited so long. We had the capacity to be happy, just not together. Quiet quitting in a relationship isn’t right, as you deserve to give someone your best and receive it as well. You don’t want to do the bare minimum in a relationship, you want to be excited to do things for your partner and feel appreciated. You want to be all-in, as otherwise you shouldn’t be in it at all.
Once you overcome the fear of being alone, you start to see relationships as something that should only add to your life, rather than be the focus or need of it. You shouldn’t quiet quit a relationship, you should outright quit. It’s better to leave sooner and on good terms then to wait long enough for things to sour and turn ugly.
I quiet quit my last relationship and waited until he was ready for us to end. I was too scared at the time, and that was part of my journey. All I can do now is learn to be so comfortable on my own that I never put myself in that position again. So that next time, I’ll quit loudly and clearly.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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