Should I Stay in My Relationship?
4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Committing or Leaving
Only you know what is really going on in your relationship. Even as a coach or therapist, we can only know what you choose to share. If we get to see you together, we can make observations about your relationship dynamic and assess the clarity of your communication, but ultimately, the heart is a private sanctum. So when a man or woman is struggling with whether or not to stay in a relationship, I ask them the following questions, which lay the groundwork for what has to ultimately be their own assessment. (I switch from he to she throughout this article because this truly applies to both genders).
1. What do you love about being in your relationship? When the person lights up and talks about his sense of humor or how much she feels he looks out for her, these are positives, without a doubt. On the other hand, when she speaks of enjoying being in a couple as opposed to being single, or enjoying their friends group, I can usually guess how the next three questions will fare.
2. Can you fully be yourself with this person? Do you change what you're saying when she walks into the room? Do you share your true desires and beliefs? If you feel that you have to like or care about things that don't feel authentic to you in order to please her, then maybe you need to come clean or consider finding someone more on your wavelength. The deeper you go in relationship without truly being yourself, the harder it becomes to be a whole person without fearing the loss of that love and acceptance. Being in a great relationship does not require having every need met by one person or thinking and feeling the same way about everything. That kind of pressure sets you up for collapse. If you feel judged or afraid to speak your truth, that may be due to your partner's personality type or it may be due to your own insecurity. Either way, it's an important factor to acknowledge and explore as you move forward.
3. Do you feel this person is on your side? Feeling that someone has your back is one of the best feelings that a primary love relationship can bring into your life. It makes us feel truly partnered. When something goes wrong for you, does he immediately tell you what you could have or should have done differently, or does he come from a place of compassion and empathy? If you're afraid to tell your partner about a mistake, that may be a sign you don't feel he's on your side. It's crucial to be allowed to be human! To truly be on someone's side, you must trust their intent, meaning that even when they screw up, you give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn't mean to hurt you. That is the starting point and that is the healthiest way to approach whatever offense may have been committed.
4. Do you have chemistry with this person? Don't underestimate the importance of attraction. Sexual chemistry is key over the long haul. If you are concerned about a lack of openness or willingness to explore, or if you feel you can't keep up in that way, it's really important to acknowledge this now and start communicating (and having fun with it!). If you suspect an imbalance in desire or differing perspective, this will not self-correct! This issue will bite you in the ass if you're not careful, or if that's what you're into. ;) I'm not saying you must feel hot for each other every minute of the day, but look at the other questions here and try the fortune cookie test: ask yourself, What do I love about being with this person... in bed? Do I feel like I can totally be myself with this person.... in bed? Does this person have my back.... in bed? Yes, on your side, wanting your needs to be met; wanting you to be truly fulfilled... in bed. This is not a separate issue in your relationship. It's part of the whole picture.
Every relationship has complications. We all have baggage and family and money issues and things we could be better at handling. When the answers to these four questions are enthusiastically positive, we become really clear about why we are in the relationship, and any complications that might be weighing down our joy become smaller and less of a catalyst to leave. But when we are dealing with those things while not feeling accepted, supported, and wanted, we can start to wonder why the heck we are even hangin' around, and that is a valid question... or four questions.
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