July 26, 2014

Is a Half-Relationship Really Better than the Alternative?

lonely, sad, angry, introvert, anxious

So many excuses get made about a struggling relationship.

We justify bad behavior or our inability to make a decision that would make us happier. We avoid it, because we’re afraid of losing what we have, even if it is half, or a quarter, or even an 1/8 of a relationship…bread crumbs.

It seems the experience of romantic relationships not working out takes its toll on our self-esteem, self-confidence and dramatically increases the fear factor. So, as we get older, this phenomenon makes for some funky situations.

It’s not to say that people who find themselves in these, sorta, kinda, relationships have a fatal flaw or something is tragically wrong with them. On the contrary, many of them are fairly stable, kind and want love as much as anyone.

Wanting it and being available for it are two different things.

I did this route myself. I got divorced and went to therapy. After doing therapy for a few years, I thought I was in pretty good shape.

I wasn’t.

I had no understanding at all of what it meant to be anxiety-free, connected to myself, truly confident, whole, happy and not seeking outside validation to tell me I was lovable. I was still looking for someone to fix what was wrong with me or fill up the gaping hole inside of me!

In the time since my divorce, I’ve had relationships, but there were two that I thought would do me in because of the intense level we matched at. I thought each one was the one; they were instead, both my greatest mirrors and lessons.

Both relationships were never full time.

Neither was officially a commitment, but the intensity and the feeling of having someone who got me superseded the lack of time together and all other red flags. My fantasy of what I wanted it to be slowly fell apart. I would seek out advice and everywhere I was told, “we were meant to be together.”

I hear these words from so many people who contact me. They look for psychic readings, books and other people to tell them it is okay to hope that this shitty situation has a silver lining. It can have a great outcome, but not in the way most of us think.

We attract what we’re capable of dealing with, so in these token relationships, as much as we want love, we have to look at how unavailable we are to its full commitment.

Many of us don’t want to give up because of the time invested, the familiarity and the connection.

We can have the most amazing connection to people who just aren’t there. They’re married or refuse to give up some other half-assed relationship they are in too. They may be single but living in their own past pain, with so many rules of engagement, we’re lucky to get any of their time or affection at all.

The longer we’ve been at the relationship game, the more entrenched we may become in believing we deserve less. We make excuses for the lack. We say the few moments of attention are worth all the hours of heartache. We break it off and somehow find ourselves back in this dance with this person, over and over again.

Some wonder where the strength and decision-making skills we had when we were younger went. We used to be more discerning and, perhaps, we were always the ones who left the relationship and now, we find ourselves unable to move on or unravel these ties that bind.

I see it often, and I’ve been there. We have to believe that we deserve a full relationship, but first we need to see what we’re afraid of and why we stay suffering. Once we have clarity, we come to making better decisions.

Look inside. Where does the anxiety of possible loss come from? We need to think back to times we put up with pain in our relationships and understand that we have walled ourselves off from being vulnerable to this same pain again.

When we’re walled off, we’re unable to be emotionally intimate. Therefore, we’re unavailable and the person we think won’t give to us is not standing across the room, it’s the one we see in the mirror.

As long as we stay there, we will not move forth, grow or be happy. Once we decide that our current lot in life is no longer an option, we can commit to ourselves and transforming the beliefs we have, which kept us stuck in these half relationships.


Relephant Read:

Why is Trying to Get a Commitment such a Pain in the A**? 


Does Your Relationship Have a Future or Should It End?



Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: martinak15/Flickr



Read 18 Comments and Reply

Read 18 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Tracy Crossley  |  Contribution: 10,900