Expiration dates. We all heed them. I know I don’t purchase a dairy product at the grocery store without checking the expiration date. Even some bottled water has an expiration date stamped on the label. On a recent Montel Williams show his guest was a psychic named Sylvia. Guests were encouraged to ask Sylvia questions. At first, most of the people in the audience asked questions about loved ones who had died. Then it started. People (they all happened to be women) begin to ask when they would meet the right man. One woman’s mother asked this question for her daughter and the mother stated the daughter had been in one bad relationship after another. The psychic told the woman her daughter would have to wait 6 years for the right man to enter her life. This made the daughter stand up and take the microphone. She emphatically stated that she had not been choosing the wrong men. The psychic assured her she had indeed been choosing the wrong men. The woman continued to insist she had not chosen the wrong men. Then Montel interceded and here is what he said, “You don’t have to sit and wait 6 years. Have fun and date. However, just realize everyone has an expiration date stamped on his (or her) forehead. When the expiration date comes, throw them out and move on.” Whoa Nellie! The woman relinquished the microphone and sat down with this defiant, pissed off look on her face. What she did not realize is that Montel Williams had given her excellent advice applicable to every single relationship in our lives.
When Is the Expiration Date?
The expiration date is when a relationship has outlived its usefulness in your life or, the relationship should not have been in your life in the first place. If the relationship is causing you pain, anxiety or distress and you have done everything in your power to correct whatever, guess what? This relationship needs to be thrown out; just like milk past its expiration date – poured down the drain with the hot tap water turned on after it goes down the drain. This applies to romantic relationships, career relationships – all relationships.
Sometimes, the expiration date is not visible or evident to us. However, sometimes without warning, someone will walk right out of your life. Poof! They are gone leaving you standing there with your mouth hanging open wondering what the heck happened. The person who left saw the expiration date and moved on. In my book, Lessons Learned: While Looking for Love in All the Wrong Faces, I share the fact that when a person’s part in your life story or your part in their life story is over, acknowledge that fact and move on or allow them to move on.
In 2004, an article attributed to Bishop T.D. Jakes entitled “Let It Go in 2004” was widely circulated on the Internet. In the article, Bishop Jakes stated, “If someone can walk away from you, let them walk. Your destiny is not tied to anyone who can walk away from you.”
Do All Relationships Have Expiration Dates?
Yes, all relationships have expiration dates. Some expiration dates are beyond human control and by this I mean, death. We even come with expiration dates. An old-fashioned word for death that is usually used in medical settings is the word “expire.” Sometimes we agree with the expiration date of a relationship but most often, we do not. We hang in there trying to make it work, hoping it will work while every indication is that our relationship is just as dead as any cadaver in the morgue.
Some relationships have the expiration dates stamped on them and some we must stamp ourselves. Not all expiration dates signal an actual end to the relationship but can signal the end to the manner a relationship is handled or your depth of involvement in a relationship. For example, if you are the parent of a wayward child whom you have bailed out of one mess after another, it’s time for you to stamp that relationship with an expiration date. However, the date you are stamping signals the end of your attempt to save this child from himself or your attempt to save him from the lesson he or she needs to learn.
It has been my experience that in male-female relationships, men tend to be able to adhere to or recognize relationship expiration dates better than women. I think this is because by nature, women tend to be of a more nurturing state of mind. Women tend to think they can nurture someone or a situation enough to change the person or situation. Men tend to be more matter-of-fact about things. Men tend to realize early on when something is a waste of their time and energy. It’s not that men don’t feel pain or disappointment but they tend to acknowledge when it’s time to move on faster than women. This is not always the case but if you recall past instances of people moving on, I think you will agree to this general assessment.
Depending on the item, we can still consume some goods (food, medicine, etc.) for up to a week, month or even a year after the posted expiration date. This is commonly referred to as a grace period. The key in relationships is the ability to decipher if you have a grace period. If you are in a domestically violent relationship, you have no grace period; the time to leave is NOW. Depending on your particular relationship, you may have a week, month, or other time frame expiration date. My advice: do not remain in any relationship to the point where your health, self-esteem or self-worth begins to suffer.
As Montel so eloquently put, “Stamp an expiration date on their forehead, throw them out and yell, Next.”
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Copyright Carmin Wharton, 2007
Author, Lessons Learned: While Looking for Love in All the Wrong Faces