Arjun Badola

When to walk away

Walking away is a very complex decision which one is thrown upon when a relationship is becoming one sided. A one sided relationship can be of various kinds: friends being toxic or self obsessed, friendzone, people taking advantage of you, etc.

Such situations bring up the question of “When to walk away?”

I had shared my initial thoughts about it on twitter where I referred to my previous three essays as something to consider while making the decision.

#1: “Core Values”: When you discover/realise that you are not on the same page when it comes to valuing things. It has to be something substantial which makes it a dealbreaker for YOU, not conventionally. Example: showing up after commitment might be a core value for you and very valuable to you and violation of it could be something serious.

#2: “Efforts”: When you get a feeling that it is a one way road. You put in the efforts to uplift the relationship, but it turns out you were the only one involved here. The worst situation is when they are your priority, and you are at the bottom of their friendzone.

#3: “Importance”: When you realise that you are not getting the importance you deserve. Gets clearer if combined with effort. Such situations can arise when one might be seeking stability from someone, in return they don’t want to give commitment but also want you in their life.

Above three filters can be highly subjective and come with the fear of you making the wrong decision, but one doesn’t need to be precisely right. When these filters play out in the real world your gut will already hint you. It is just important to keep them in mind to recognize them.

But as emotions also play a huge role for the decision of walking away, in this essay I will try to bring out some observations while applying these filters.

Don’t make exception the rule.

As emotions take over rationality in such decisions, one common mistake is making exception the rule.

You start ignoring the red flags believing in excuses and let them slide in through your filters. Once this is repeated a few times you end up making the exception the rule. Eventually you realise, in hindsight, if one would have stuck to the rule in the first place a lot of time, energy, and emotions could have been saved.

Hence, let rule be rule and exception be exception.

Market Analogy and Huge Cost

In dating you believe that your partner is “The One” and you start ignoring the red flags ultimately hurting yourself.

In stocks, you keep believing that “this time it’s different” and the management or sector has changed until your portfolio gets a hit.

Both above situations there will be exceptions where you might find “The One ‘’ or stocks where “this time it’s different”. But in pursuit of that don’t go all ballistic and ruin your mental peace.

The dilemma remains whether to let your filters allow relaxation or you walk away.

Letting go of filters would work in that one situation where the person you have found is “The One”, but if not, then this will bite you back very hard. Treating everyone as an exception comes at a huge cost. You waste a lot of energy, time, and effort on wrong assumptions. Further, it gets worse if you are an overthinker who keeps analysing small things.

In one of my previous posts, I had mentioned that I generally let people come into my inner circle very easily. This behaviour comes at a cost of you hurting yourself when you realise that the person is not whom you thought would be. This thought process is similar to “everyone is an exception”.

Therefore, most of the time, not worrying about missing out the exception, at least in dating, is fine, because if they are the one then rules don’t matter.

The Real Exception?

One must admit, dealing with people is a complicated thing. Be it friendship or relationship, and complexities/difficulties should NOT be confused with the signs of walking away.

I recently read a book, “The Last Lecture”, where it mentions these difficulties as a brick wall. Here is the quote from the book: “The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

One good learning this quote has is that one must not play to extremes and take calls like “walking away” because of one incident which you consider as a red flag. Rather, thinking about it as a brick wall which both parties fight through for bringing out a healthy friendship/relationship via communication and understanding.

The book also mentions being supportive when this brick wall is hit. You can’t be demanding and walk away if the cards are not coming as you wished. Similar to poker where one cannot control the cards they get on their hands but only the decision they make with those cards (that is to fold or continue playing).

Similarly, one should not expect a perfect scenario where everything is as per your plan. One needs to adjust as the brick wall exposes you to the likings and disliking of the other party. As both start understanding each other, the brick wall starts to fade away and the bond is stronger! This is the time to NOT walk away just because you are a little out of your comfort zone.

The below image is a good image to explain what a relationship looks like: (source)


Therefore, there will be times when you need to deal with things which fall under the yellow box (Things you wish you didn’t have to deal with) and there will times when you miss things which were present in the blue box (Things you wish you had) but it will be all worth it because the combination of green box (Things you’re happy you have) and yellow box would make you a black lined box (a relationship). :)