One of the most universal challenges that we all face is in the navigation of our romantic relationships. Our love and history with another person often makes it harder to evaluate the real complexities of the relationship and whether or not it is working for us. One of the main issues is our belief that “love” is the most important component of a healthy relationship and that we should stay or leave based on this key ingredient.
In reality, love can actually cloud our vision of other key ingredients in a healthy relationship, resulting in a relationship that is not harmonious with some of the other ingredients we need to be happy and have a longstanding and positive engagement with our partner. These other ingredients will vary from one person to the next in terms of what is important and how much weight they have in our lives. One’s key ingredients may include, shared values, a shared lifestyle, trust, commitment, intimacy, independence, and communication.
It also may not help to put pressure on a relationship to meet all future goals. Trying to find the perfect match that will lead to marriage, children and identity fulfillment puts a lot of burden on the here and now, where we may need to initially focus on whether this is the right partner for us in the moment and then whether our paths have the likelihood to continue to converge as we move forward together.
It is important to recognize that no relationship is perfect, but healthy, balanced, and fulfilling one’s core needs is possible. To obtain that, we need to be aware of what we are experiencing, not simply ignore or avoid problems, and be mindful of how we can move towards the relationships we want.
Success in a relationship with one we “love” is often reflective of how we face the challenges that will ultimately emerge. Some of those challenges are fleeting and do not hold much weight. Others, may be re-occur far more often than we would like.
So what do we do when we “love” someone, but see the same issues returning time and time again? It is all about asking the right questions, being honest with ourselves about the answers, and making an informed decision once we understand the situation better. Here is a guide of how we can assess our relationships and question ourselves to get you started:
What isn’t working in this relationship?
Are these differences/issues important to me?
Are these issues going to keep coming back?
Are my expectations fair and realistic?
What is leading me to stay?
What can I accept responsibility for?
Is change mutually desired?
Is change possible and fair to expect?
Can I tolerate things staying the same?
Will I be happy 5 years from now if things have not changed?
Does our partner see what we see?
Do they feel the same way?
Is fear or shame driving my instinct to stay or leave this relationship?
Do I need more time to understand my own desires?
What past experiences or worldview am I bringing into this decision? Is that important?
How do I feel about this being my future?
Am I going to likely bring these same concerns to future relationships?
This all leads to the tough part:
While the difficulties of making a decision were already there, this decision is an informed one. By asking good questions and reflecting on our responses we can better understand our needs and determine whether our current relationships foster those needs, have the potential to foster those needs through some reasonable work, or whether we will not be fulfilled and need to move forward in another matter.
Sometimes we need to rinse and repeat in relationships. It is certainly not easy to leave a relationship that we have invested a lot of time and emotions into, but sometimes that will be the decision that needs to be made. Other times staying and working on the relationship can feel right too. The key is to make an informed decision. That requires some tough questions.
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Jessica is a member of the clinical wellness and learning support team at FLEX Psychology. Jessica started Wellness Wednesday out of a desire to provide further opportunities for her clients to extend their wellness journey to all avenues of their life. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here or by learning more about her and the clinical team at FLEX Psychology by clicking here.