Other times this question that haunts us when we find ourselves in a relationship that feels it could go either way. How do I know if this is worth saving? Should we be fighting for this or are we both being stupid holding on to something that clearly isn’t working? Did I quit too soon? Did I hold on too long?
Sometimes no matter what choice we make, we find ourselves asking whether it was the right one.
In these situations, things tend to get complicated quickly. We ask ourselves what we want. We try and figure out what the other person wants. The wise among us involve the other person in these discussions, which often makes things more clear. Sometimes what seems to be a problem, really isn’t.
But sometimes things get even more complex. In that case, our goal isn’t to find an answer. Our goal is to simplify the questions.
One thing that might be handy is to remember that love and relationships are not the same.
A second approach is to ask ourselves the question: Are the problems in this relationship specific problems or universal problems?
Some definitions, perhaps, are in order.
Specific problems are issues unique to the relationship. Scheduling issues. Sexual compatibility or lack thereof. I want to move in together and my partner isn’t ready.
Stuff like that.
Universal problems are issues that show up in ALL our relationships, regardless of our partner. Some of our universal problems may even show up in other parts of our lives, although they may look a little different. Feelings of entitlement or inadequacy. Problems with trust or jealousy. Self-sabotage and difficulties with commitment.
In other words, are our problems unique to our relationship with THIS specific person? Or are they variations on a theme that show up for us again and again?
If the problem is the relationship, it might be time to make some changes. If the problem is in us, it doesn’t matter who our partner is. As tempting as it might be, a new lover is not going to fix the problem. That problem is not going to change until we take steps to deal with it.
Take some time to think about your significant relationships, both ongoing ones and ones from your past. What problems are their that are specific to those relationships? What problems are universal to all your relationships? What did you learn from the answers to those questions?
-May All Beings Be Sexy
Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.
I bring it up here, because my next posting is going to be whether or not to stay in troubled relationships. And I have a feeling that the people who most need the advice to stay are going to ignore it while people who SHOULD be walking away are going to use it as an excuse to lash themselves to the mast of their sinking relationship even as the ship slips beneath the waves.
That’s one of the ways the Opposites work in our lives. Whatever is going on, we convince ourselves the problem is the reverse of what is happening so we can avoid facing truths about ourselves.
- A man in an abusive relationship calls himself selfish for wanting to leave or take time to himself. He blames himself for not being loyal enough, for that time he slept through his partner’s drunk texts at three in the morning, for leaving the apartment when he felt his life was threatened. He shouldn’t have abandoned his partner like that. He convinces himself he needs to do a better job of standing by the one he loves, when that person needs him the most. - A woman who makes a habit of leaving relationships without looking back when partners aren’t able to live up to her standards thinks she’s finally found the One. Until the One’s failure to return a text message. Why does she let these guys mistreat her like this? She wonders. She decides the problem is she’s too much of a pushover. She doesn’t stand up for herself enough and people take advantage.
Now, I should warn you, knowing about the Opposites makes it very easy to overcomplicate things, especially for those of us our prone to a lot of thinking and analysis: If I’m in the land of the Opposites, then all I have to do is the reverse of what I was going to do. But what if THAT is the Opposites talking? Now I have to do the opposite of the opposite which means I go back to my original position…
I'm the guy women hook up with between the Jerk That Broke Her Heart and The One she ends up spending her life with. It's not the romantic life I chose or asked for, but I'm good at it, and I'm making the best of it. In the meantime, I'm offering up what I've learned.
I've written a book called Dating for Shy Guys, based on the course I developped of the same name. I have also written on dating and relationships for the Edmonton Journal and the Suicide Girls website.
Feel free to post any questions in the comments section. or if you're shy email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unless you say otherwise, I may use your question (with your name removed) in future posts.