Are you COMPLETELY satisfied with your current relationship?
The more couples I come across, either through work or simply through a growing interest in the mechanics and details of a healthy relationship, the more people I see who are simply not content in theirs.
I don’t believe it can ever truly be a one-way issue either. Even when there is an obvious dominant person in the relationship, to have an unresponsive or lacklustre partner is equally dissatisfying.
These observations were further brought to my attention recently on a forum that I occasional visit. Someone posted the following sarcastic yet poignant mantra entitled ‘My girlfriend’… It is the last line that really makes me empathise with this person:
“I love how she rarely wants sex.
I love how she never does any housework.
I love how she nitpicks at harmless things I do.
I love how she is gaining weight.
I love how at age 22 I feel like a middle-aged married man.
I love how I feel I can’t leave her.”
For this article, I am going to list a couple of reasons as to why someone might stay in a relationship, even if they know it is not wholly right for them, before revealing the ONLY reason you should stay in a relationship…
It is pretty validating to know that there is someone who is devoted solely to you. For someone of moderate or low self-esteem, being openly single can be like admitting you are not good enough for anyone. Whilst in a relationship, this thought can never be justified.
If you honestly don’t think you are ‘good enough’ for anyone, then no romantic partner is really going to change that. Your sense of self-worth and self-esteem should never be derived from another person.
Another reason why some people will always make sure they are in a relationship is due to wanting the respect of their peers and society in general. Even back in my school days, it was always the ‘cool kids’ who were in relationships.
Obviously at a young age, relationships are rather trivial but I remember myself dating one girl in particular called Hannah (we were only 12 years old, how cute) simply because I thought it would make me look cool… I don’t think we ever even spent any time together; we merely enjoyed the status of having a boyfriend or girlfriend.
In adulthood, relationships aren’t so infantile but still a good question to ask yourself is, “would I date this person regardless of what anyone else thought?” It’s a good question to ask yourself, whether you are in a relationship with said person, or wanting to be.
There are lots of external benefits to being in a relationship, namely the addition of greater financial flexibility. Further down the line this becomes even more significant. When a couple decide to live together, a double income really comes in handy for general living expenses.
I know a lot of people put great importance on materialistic elements of their lives but anyone who has experienced any form of enlightened state, knows how internal happiness triumphs over any external resources.
The prospect of an unknown bout of celibacy is daunting to anyone who has been in a relationship for a while, especially if they have let their social life slip whilst doing so.
That is one of the reasons why I advocate maintaining a healthy social life whilst in a relationship. Not only does it keep your personality attractive but also, if you become single again, you can quickly pick yourself up and start meeting new people immediately.
Scared of being single and lonely:
An extension from not wanting to lead a sexless life is just generally not having a soul-mate or companion there whenever you desire. Most would agree that the emotional loss of a breakup is probably more emphatic than the physical loss and so a lot of people avoid that situation completely regarding breaking up, even if deep down they know they want to.
Being single is great for the people who know how to embrace it. There are so many new people to meet every day (either romantically or socially) that feeling lonely is purely a self-inflicted curse that can easily be turned around.
Too much investment to just throw away:
If you’ve been in a relationship for several years, it is quite difficult to simply walk away from it, even if you know it is the right thing to do. The thought of having to start all over again and spend at least another couple of years getting to the same stage with someone new is a rather intimidating one.
What you have to realise is that the longer you stay in a crestfallen relationship, the longer you are postponing finding the person you are really meant to be with. Whether you have been with your partner for four weeks or four years, the only time that matters is NOW, so make sure your decisions are not ones influenced by past feelings but ones influenced by current feelings.
It should be quite obvious by now what the only reason to stay in a relationship is…
The ONLY reason to stay in a relationship:
The only reason you should stay in a relationship is if it is actively making you happy!!
As the old saying goes, ‘life is too short’ and this definitely applies to relationships. If a relationship is not actively making you happy and you know that you are in it due to one of the reasons listed above or any similar reason, then find the courage within yourself to do something about it.
A thorough analysis of your current feelings towards the relationship should only be done whilst in a calm and contemplative mood. It is easy to defiantly arrogate a breakup during a raging argument and later regret it and that is something I recommend avoiding.
In the case of my own relationship, I don’t explicitly tell my girlfriend that the instant I am not happy with our situation I will be out the door but I would like to think that I convey my standards in a way that I won’t let them be abused consistently and unjustly and I would have no problems leaving amicably if that was compromised.
Like I’ve said before, even the most ostensibly perfect relationships will have short blips but a happy couple should be able to overcome these fairly swiftly. If these negative phases are becoming more frequent or prolonged, then some reflection might be required. I talked about this in more depth in the article ‘How to get through bad patches in a relationship’.
What if I have REAL contingencies such as kids or a mortgage?
One final note is if a couple are beyond the means of casually breaking-up. If you are married, have a mortgage together or have kids together then obviously the circumstances will require a lot more practical thought. Some questions to ask yourself if you are in such a situation are:
- What is more important between my happiness and my lifestyle?
- Are the negative aspects of my relationship actually detrimental to my children?
- Could I realistically manage the debts a divorce entails?
- How much do I respect my own happiness?
I hope some of this has been of help.