September 27, 2015

Relationships Don’t Stop Working; We Do.

Christian Gonzalez

Every relationship hits a point where it feels like it’s not working anymore.

I don’t just mean that failed relationships hit this point. No, I’m saying all relationships hit this point, even the good ones.

I think one of the worst lies we tell ourselves is, “It’s not supposed to feel this way.” Whenever I hear this I have to wonder what people are expecting it should feel like. Are they expecting that relationships should always go smoothly? That partners will always feel connected? That there will always be a spark? All the time?

Well, I’m excited to break it to anyone who believes those things: Sometimes really good relationships feel like crap.

I want to make a disclaimer that I’m talking about the kind of relationships where there is a connection and a desire to be together. I’m not talking about people who have never been that into each other, or relationships where someone is being abused. I’m talking about good relationships that seem to have stopped working. I think we all too often quit those relationships before we get the prize because we don’t understand that it’s okay that they don’t feel good all the time.

We are humans. Our relationships, just like the rest of our lives, are prone to hit challenges and slumps. And just like the rest of our lives, there’s always a way to work through it. We can start by not giving up, followed by letting it be okay that everything isn’t perfect.

It’s important that we don’t make it mean a lot of really damning things whenever our relationship doesn’t measure up to our expectations of what it’s supposed to feel like.

The truth is, there is no particular way relationships are supposed to feel. It’s not as though they are any more magical or perfect than the rest of our lives, but we tend to look at relationships through a metaphysical lens even if we don’t see the rest of life that way. Even if we’re not particularly deterministic, we begin to believe in fate when we fall in love. We think in terms of “meant to be” or “not meant to be” and we forget, almost entirely, that our lives are governed by cause and effect.

The reality is that when it comes to relationship troubles, the way it feels is always a direct result of the way we engage with each other. It’s a direct result of how kind or unkind we are, how courageous or cowardly we are, how honest or dishonest we are. It’s a direct result of how our conditioning and patterns are playing out.

Whether a relationship works out is not the result of some divine decision decreeing whether it’s “meant to be”. No, relationships are not predestined and that’s because the way we engage with each other is not predestined. The way we engage with each other is up to us.

So, that thing that happens after the honeymoon period where we lose the spark? I know it’s tempting to decide that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be, after all. But it’s actually much more simple than fate.

The reason this happens so often in relationships is because we all have fear, beliefs and conditioning that eventually build up and make us start behaving differently toward each other. It hurts on both sides and it gets in the way of our pure love.

So what do we do when we hit that spot where we’ve gotten stuck in every relationship but never yet made it through?

The easy answer is that we do something different than what we’ve done in the past.

Many people believe that things will feel right with the right person, and if things aren’t feeling right, we must not be with the right person. This leads to an unfortunate cycle where we bail out and look for something new whenever things start feeling really stuck.

I think the way it actually works is that even with a great person who has the potential to be a great match for us, things can feel awful when we’re stuck in toxic patterns with them. What we really need to do is get free of those patterns, not leave our partner and find someone new to start the patterns with all over again.

Instead of assuming everything will click into place when we finally meet the right person, perhaps we should assume instead that the right person will only have the chance to click into our lives perfectly once we break free of the patterns we play into.

Really, the best thing to do here is to talk with our partner, and perhaps a professional coach or therapist, about what we’re feeling and both decide on some new approaches to try that might disrupt the patterns. Perhaps the relationship will take a turn for the better, or perhaps it’ll become clear that it’s not a good fit.

What’s most important is realizing that it’s “not working out” is often a way to avoid facing the truth that “our patterns are sabotaging our relationship.” Because if that’s why we end up giving up on someone we love, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the same patterns will sabotage our next relationship, and the next, and so on, until we finally face that part of ourselves and penetrate all the way through it.

I find that the couples who have the most resilient relationships are are those who are able to be honest with each other about their doubts every step of the way but still keep an optimistic perspective on their ability to overcome challenges together.

When their motivation is overcoming their challenges rather than avoiding discomfort, they’re far more likely to find the way through.


Author: Summer Engman

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: Christian Gonzalez/Flickr  



How I Know you are “The One.”


Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Summer Engman  |  Contribution: 5,120