SINGLE PRINGLE: When you don't know whether to stay or to go. My top 5 Deal breakers.
Relationships are hard work, but how hard should they be?
Once the thought pops up ‘am I in the right relationship?’ it’s hard to go back, yet many of us stay in relationships for longer than we should.
I was certainly one of these people.
Have you noticed that we approach romantic relationships very differently to other relationships? Many of us wouldn't end up in a job without thinking about the progression plan, yet we seem to slot only too easily into a commitment with a lover.
Perhaps relationships start off great and then later just… fade. I was utterly unhappy in a long-term relationship for the majority of my 20's. Why did I stay? I didn’t know whether I should be out of it, any more than I was sure I should be in it. It was when I was crying on a toilet floor at a nightclub one late night texting a friend in desperation to stay at her place because “I didn’t want to go home” that I knew it was time to go.
Lucky for you, I don't believe we must get to breaking point before we make a run for it. Deal breakers are important leading into a relationship but especially important if you are going around in circles with thoughts of doubt.
This is tricky. Most of us don’t know how to answer this. If you don’t know where to start, think about an amazing friendship that works effortlessly. I mirrored how I wanted to feel from how I felt with some of my friends. My friendships were healthy and I felt what I gave I received fairly evenly overall. Does your relationship feel like this? Does a night out with your partner feel as good as a catch up with your friend? Why not? Sure they will be different, and if you are like me you will fight more with a partner but I am referring to the good times not the bad. Compare those times.
A dealbreaker for me was family functions. My boyfriend at the time refused to attend them, and that was a real issue for me. It felt so symbolic for him to continue to resist my family time, so I confronted him and said this was a dealbreaker for me. Yet, time and time again, a family event would come up and he was busy, would pull out last minute or just blatantly not show. If you have a timeline in place to improve something, do you see an effort being made to reach it? It’s unrealistic to think people can change overnight, but at the least, you want to be with a partner who cares enough to try.
I found this to be important in defining things that concern you. Is this person doing something that goes against who you truly are? Do they fit with your value system? Not attending a family event falls under 'values' -- to me, it shows a lack of commitment to a family -- but perhaps not getting the Christmas pressie I want would fall under 'surface worries'. You could be different, but you get the drift.
Are you obsessing over the things they are doing wrong, rather than focusing on the things you want? Maybe you’ve changed. Often in relationships, we focus on our issues with our partners to deflect what’s going on in our own lives. Perhaps your partner has always done these things, but they bug you now because YOU’RE the one that's different. It is okay to change and move on. It’s life. I focused very heavily on what my partner started to do to annoy me, or the things that weren't being lived up to, but I realised I was judging based on new expectations. It was me that wanted to commit and to grow up, so therefore I had changed. So really, it was me that was causing the disruption.
Are you your best self with them? It doesn’t have to be all of the time. Life is hard, and gets in the way plenty -- but when you are open, when you don't have problems at work, and you've got most of the bills paid -- are you fun? Do you like you?
Zoe Ligon, a sex educator, recently made a comment on Instagram that stayed with me:
“Relationships are NOT more important than the individuals within it,” she wrote.
If we are smart and strong with our ambitions and our professional lives, surely there is a way to help ourselves before we reach our breaking points. Being scared to leave a relationship is no reason to stay.
For what it’s worth, I never felt as lonely laying alone in bed as a single gal as I did laying next to a man who couldn't give me what I wanted. Fairy tales aren’t real, and relationships take work.
Ensure the relationship you invest in gives you the return you deserve.