Relationships are dynamic and ever-changing just like the universe. We are changing moment by moment even when we are unaware of it.
Our thoughts, emotions and perceptions are also fluid. By this I mean, you may feel one way in the morning (for example), and another way in the afternoon. This is true for our perceptions too, and can affect how we feel in relationships.
The beauty (yet complexity) of this is we can feel different emotions toward someone who we even love.
It may be bliss and joy at one moment and frustration and anger at another.
In the age-old expression, “Something that can be a blessing can also be a curse.”
Take for example when you first met your partner.
What was the immediate feeling you had and what attracted you most to that person? What were the qualities?
Fast forward to now – these may be the very same qualities that you dislike or that irritate you as the relationship progressed.
What I am trying to illustrate is how you “feel” about your partner can change over time.
This is not necessarily a bad thing or something that indicates that you have to “run for the hills.” It simply indicates that you are dynamic and fluid because your are human.
But, what if you are in a situation in which you feel unsure or ambivalent about the relationship?
As you read this article, you will be able to distinguish if you are settling or being realistic in your relationship. These step will help you gain clarity in your situation and my hope is you’ll do what’s best for you.
1. Feelings Change
Be aware that how you felt in the beginning of the relationship or the “honeymoon phase” can change overtime. The initial “high” of the relationship, often describes as “romantic love,” can fade and change to “mature love.”
Don’t rely on feelings of elation and passion as a sole indicator that the relationship is not the one for you.
2. The Difference between Emotions and Intuition
Emotions are fluid, therefore can change based on how you “feel” yourself. For example, you may wake up and not feel like being close or intimate with your partner, and later that day feel closer.
On the other hand, intuition is a “gut feeling” – for example, that you do not feel safe or comfortable at all to be close with your partner. Usually, going by your gut feeling or intuition is a safe bet in making decisions.
Refrain from reacting to how you feel.
Take a pause, reflect and address the issue at the end of the day. If it’s something that still bothers you after some time, address it. Speak up. You are in charge of how you feel.
3. The Relationship as a Whole
Often when we are in conflict about a relationship, we get caught up in our partner’s specific behaviors that we dislike. This leads to an unconscious process of “keeping score.” In this we have columns in our mind – one for our likes and the other our dislikes.
The problem with this is because our feelings and perceptions can change over time, a like can become a dislike and vice versa.
A healthier way to view a relationship is as a whole. I encourage you to step back from the relationship and ask yourself if you are satisfied as a “whole.”
A deal-breaker in a relationship is something you won’t tolerate in a relationship and can result in the relationship ending.
Most of us have an idea of what we will not put up with in a relationship. Or, it may be a case that you may not know what your deal-breaker is until it happens and are faced with making a decision.
Some examples are: emotional, verbal or physical abuse; an emotional or physical affair; and chronic alcohol or drug dependence etc.
An individual’s deal-breakers are personal to him or her. They are often linked to their personal histories, previous relationship and past experiences.
Make a list of your deal-breakers. So if it occurs you’ll be more aware of the next step you need to take.
5. Changing Yourself vs. Others
A common issue that brings clients into counseling is how to deal with another person’s behavior. Whether it’s their partner’s attitude/behavior/decisions or how the individual is being treated in their relationship.
You can only change yourself not anyone else.
If you are in a situation where you have difficulty coping with another person’s behavior, look at how you can change your reactions. Examples of this are how you handle your emotions, whether you have proper self-care, whether you are aspiring to achieve your own goals and if you are happy within yourself.
You can also make a request for your partner to seek professional help. Remember the choice to do so is theirs not yours. If you have tried all of the above and still feel the same, maybe it means you need to make a change.
6. Always Be Yourself
Often I find that my clients are in relationships where they can’t be themselves. Either they cannot assert what they feel or need or they don’t make the choices that are tied to their own happiness. It may be a situation where they are “people pleasing” to gain acceptance or avoid conflict.
When you compromise your own self, to remain in a relationship, you will develop resentment, be unhappy and in some way “settling.”
Always be YOU.
When you can honor and respect yourself, trust that the right people will enter your life.
They say that the grass is not greener on the other side. Always make sure your are looking through a lens of self-love, self-respect and self-acceptance, then what you’ll see will be perfectly clear. Brown or green, the grass will always be imperfectly beautiful, because your love for yourself will out-color anything.