There comes a time in every relationship when one of the two people pauses to look at the other person and ask, “Is this who I want?”
This is a natural progression when you are growing closer to someone. Relationships can often feel like a dance: you hold each other near for a while, and then, sooner or later, you back up and look at each other with a bit of emotional distance. Depending on what you “see” when you take a step back, and the level of your conversation about the issues you’re having, you decide to reunite and keep dancing, or, move away from each other. No doubt about it… the love dance can sometimes feel more like a rollercoaster ride than a sweetheart waltz.
Here are some questions that will help you get clarity to decide if it is time to stop dancing… or re-commit. Answer these questions as honestly as possible:
1. The “Other” Factor
When you’re with your love, do you often wish you were with someone else? This is can be a red flag that says you want out because you know she isn’t quite right for you. You may have settled; you may have fear of being alone; or, you may feel that there is a scarcity of potential partners and that you are lucky to have found someone, even if they aren’t “IT” for you.
2. Resentment or Other Negative Emotions
Do you often resent the requests made of you? Does she do things that embarrass you, or make you feel bad, but you are afraid to mention it? Can you learn to say NO when you need to? If you don’t know how to do this graciously, and you are starting to overflow with the hot lava of anger, your mutual dynamic has to change. If it doesn’t, you will either start behaving covertly (flirting or seeing other women on the side), have an emotional explosion, or…you’re heading for a breakup.
3. Values and Standards
Do you both share important values? Take a good look at what you treasure and see if your partner feels the same way. Does your partner have a temper, a passive personality, or bad habits? Does it upset you? Can you talk about it and is she willing to get counseling as soon as possible? If not, your relationship is probably hanging by a thread. If there is any physical or psychological abuse, don’t make excuses for her. You want out now.
4. Lying and Cheating
Has your partner cheated on you? This is a big problem for most relationships, is not easily solved, and is a definite warning sign that your partnership may not last. Your best hope for working this through and coming out successfully on the other side is to get a coach or therapist and address the issues that brought it about. Beware: Do not settle for easy answers.
5. Liking and Respecting Each Other
Do the two of you LIKE each other? Even if you have fantastic chemistry, you can count on that to vanish over time if you do not genuinely like each other. Liking someone usually involves sharing a sense of humor, following the same spiritual beliefs, having respect for each other’s character and integrity, and admiring the work that each one does and the contribution they make.
6. Love and Passages
Do you love each other? Do you believe that the feelings are mutual? When the infatuation stage passes, do you still find this person to be someone you love unconditionally? Do you care as much for their happiness as you do your own?
Sometimes, love grows apart through no fault of anyone’s. When that happens, can you let go and move on if your partner wants to leave? When you are strong enough to walk away when the other person doesn’t want to be there anymore, then you have a chance to talk it through and possibly mend what got broken. If you cling, feel desperate, and inflict guilt or blame, your chances for making it together are small. You may have to make a decision to be friends but not lovers.
7. Enduring Love
Do you feel that your love is timeless, and if you had met at any time in your life, you would still have chosen each other? Is your deepest desire to grow old together? Can you picture the stages of life you will have with each other? These are all positive signs that you are in this relationship for the long haul.
Is your “romance dance” over? Depending on how you answered the above, it doesn’t necessarily mean a breakup is imminent—but it does mean that you have some work to do. Which is entirely normal. Anything worth having is worth working for.
Reader, I married him. Charlotte Brontë, 1847
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