When It’s Time To Emotionally Un-Invest.


There’s this new phrase I’ve been using.

I don’t know if I made it up, or if I read it somewhere and subconsciously slipped it into my vocabulary. And I’m not particularly worried because I’m sure if anyone knows the inventor of the phrase they’ll let me know by way of aggressive Instagram message.

Anyway, I started using this phrase whenever my girlfriends and I would be discussing certain relationships from our teenage years or early twenties that had since changed shape. “I’ve emotionally un-invested from that person”, I would say.

I realise how horrible that sentence looks, but do you know what’s even more horrible? Meeting a friend for brunch or a drink and leaving the date feeling worse about yourself than when you arrived. Sure, adult friendships are complex. They require more effort and are embedded with all the difficulties of being a fully-grown human balancing a love life, career and family. Not all friendships are built to withstand the intensity of adulthood. But they should never – and I truly mean never – make you feel like crap. Female friendship is challenging but it should only ever challenge your character. Not your happiness.

And yet so many of us find ourselves in this place! In the company of a person who not only doesn’t fill up our cupbut actually takes from it. Hanging out with a person who is incapable of celebrating the happiness of those around them unless their happiness trumps it. Who couldn’t be happy for your new relationship if they were still single. Who couldn’t relish in your plans for the future if they were feeling stagnant. Someone who will bleed you dry with their own problems but somehow never has the time to listen to yours.

If a name has just popped into your head, there’s a chance you need to emotionally un-invest from that person.

To be clear: this isn’t a break-up.

 There are no sides to take or shit to talk. You’re just choosing to co-exist with someone in a different capacity – in a way that should, hopefully, make the load on your heart a little lighter. To “emotionally un-invest” from someone means to continue treating them with respect and kindness but to stop investing in their emotional wellbeing. In my opinion, women spend far too much time in the company of people that only weaken their self-esteem, hoping that one day they’ll change. But it’s the old adage you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. 

I’ve only had to emotionally un-invest twice in my twenty-five years and yet I was riddled with this horrific sense of guilt on both occasions. Luckily I’m now smart enough to know that holding onto sadness for the demise of a relationship or for the way I was treated within that relationship only weighs me down. That holding onto a grudge is allowing someone to live rent-free in my head.

In other words, I’m re-claiming my time. And I hope you find the courage to do the same.

Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club