Love is in the Air, but You’re All Alone
Valentine’s day (V day) is around the corner, and that means you need to take a minute to assess your relationship status. I am proud to join the ranks of Valentine’s couples this year, but historically, I have spent this holiday alone. Regardless of whether you’re single or not, V day makes you question the health of your relationship or the lack thereof. If you feel like things have been going well or that things have stagnated recently, you might use the holiday to strengthen your relationship, whereas satisfied couples might let the holiday pass by with little to no notice. My girlfriend and I opted for handwritten letters and dinner, so I’m getting off easy this year, but what if things were going poorly, or if I’m on the verge of wanting to propose? This article is intended to help you understand some of the requirements for a healthy relationship, and whether or not you’re prepared to commit to one.
Does the perfect one exist?
I don’t pay attention to the alignment of the stars, but I feel pretty comfortable assuming that my relationship wasn’t a byproduct of some master plan. When I first met my girlfriend as her manager at Abercrombie and Fitch, I had no interest in dating her. It wasn’t until years later, when I messaged her on Facebook to consult her about joining a business venture, that I finally acknowledged my attraction towards her. We both had grown in the years since working together, and I knew that she was a good person from the time spent working together, but I would hardly think or our reunion as preordained.
In the months leading up to our first “date”, I spent a lot of time asking myself what I wanted in a relationship. My lifelong friend just got married, so I began to feel pressured to find that special someone. I knew that she had to be compassionate, frugal, humorous, and health conscience; everything else was trivial. If you try to be too specific in your search, you will likely overlook viable candidates, but if you’re too broad, you will find yourself surrounded by subpar individuals.
To find that perfect someone, start by asking the right questions. What do you “need” from your significant other? Leave room for slight deviations on hobbies and interests, but don’t compromise core expectations. If they kicks their dog, don’t expect them to treat you much better. If they lie and steal, don’t expect them to tell the whole truth. If they buy a new pair of shoes each week, don’t expect them to save money. Actions speak louder than words, so pay attention to what someone does, not what someone says they will do.
One plus one equals?
If your answer is anything less than two, you are in trouble, but if you are in a healthy relationship, it is quite possible that the answer is more than two. Relationships are intended to bring out the best of both partners, otherwise, why would you commit to lowering yourself? Finding that complementary half is no easy task, and it requires some serious introspection on both sides. If you don’t know what you want out of a relationship, you will have a hard time narrowing your search parameters. If spirituality is a must, then starting at your local centers of worship is probably a better bet than the pub.
Assuming you found someone who has your “required” shared interests, it is time to evaluate the strengths and disparities. This step might not be necessary for you; if things have been smooth for the past last couple years, don’t probe your psyche for relational issues. However, if you’re already hesitant about the longevity of your relationship, taking a moment to acknowledge the deficiencies might save your relationship from turmoil. The popular adage, “You shouldn’t try to change your partner”, is solid advice for certain circumstances, but sometimes you need to shake things up.
Compromising is fundamental to relationships, and this will go far beyond day-to-day decisions. If your partner wants you to spend more time with their friends and family, then you need to figure out what amount of time is acceptable to you. If your partner wants you to get a job or stay motivated, then you need to find an outlet to satisfy this demand. Often times, the request for spending more time with family, or staying motivated, is less about wanting you to do things that they want, and more about showing them that you’re committed to the relationship. Family, friends, and work/status are among some of the most frequently cited relational issues. If you aren’t willing to compromise or prove to your significant other that you are investing in these areas sufficiently, strap yourself in, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Should we stay together for the kids?
Whether you’ve been with your significant other for five, ten, or fifty years, studies show that staying together for the kids is a bad idea. Alternatively, if you don’t have kids, and you’ve made a substantial investment in your significant other, the thought of starting anew can be daunting. To this, I say, sunk cost. In economics and business decision-making, a sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. The years aren’t lost, they’ve been formative in shaping who you are today, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cut ties. Nobody gets into a relationship with the expectation that it’s going to end abruptly after five years (unless they’re clairvoyant), and you shouldn’t either.
All too often we find ourselves dreaming about the future or reminiscing about the past, and we lose track of the present. We are too focused on the promotion at work, and forget about our wife and kids at home. We are too focused on our significant other’s satisfaction, and neglect our personal health and happiness. Sometimes our relational issues stem from personal decisions we haven’t made yet (e.g. moving past harmful relationships), and amplify as time passes. Make sure to check in with yourself and your significant other from time to time. Ask how things are going—is there something bothering you that you cannot figure out? Scan your subconscious and discuss it with your partner, the answer will eventually appear.
If you’re contemplating getting in a relationship, or struggling with your current one, communicate with friends, family, or a specialist. Letting thoughts fester alone will wreak more havoc than letting it out. Sometimes it isn’t changing that makes us grow apart, but rather, our forgetting who we are. You have a responsibility to yourself and those you love to remember what it means to be a good person, husband/wife, sibling, and coworker; and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for reading this week’s article. Please comment and share my content with friends and family. The more you engage, the more I can assist you with communication. Also, Send me an email at [email protected] for any private content 🙂