Everyone has potential, but not everyone can (or wants to) live up to it. Hedging your bets based on that, especially on a dark type, is a gamble you will lose. Because they cannot, and will not change.
If you were to draw a timeline based on consistent patterns of their behavior, consider if it’s been getting progressively worse. Be honest with yourself if you’re just looking at the few times that are great or okay and dismissing the bad things. Also consider if you feel bad about admitting that someone’s “trying” is not enough; Some of us have been raised to be “good” and thereby feel guilty when we think we’re criticizing someone else.
In this timeline, perhaps you realize it has never been drama-free. Because the initial honeymoon phase of love-bombing itself was a calculated move to erode your boundaries and groom you. And overall, it has been a tumultuous ride, that you’ve learned to tolerate in the name of how much you’ve already invested—and how much they look like they’re working hard to change.
There might also be other mindsets that keep you tethered to persevering. Consider the other mirrors in your head, such as growing up romanticizing certain stories that speak of unhealthy love. Or perhaps, you watched your parents weather hard times. Here, it’s important to call things out for what they are—if there is abuse, then it is abuse. And while you signed up to grow as a person in a relationship, you did not sign up to be abused.
Finally, if you were looking at your relationship from a friend’s perspective, having seen all the nuts and bolts, would you say it’s been positive and healthy overall? Sometimes when we blow away the smoke, we find the relationship is one with dynamics you find impossible to explain to other people, in the words of psychotherapist, Terri Cole. If that’s the case, then it’s a trauma bond, and a trauma bond happens in abusive relationships.