Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in situations like unhealthy relationships, and we cannot see the dangers of staying even though everyone around us can. When your parents have a bad gut feeling, or your friends dislike your partner, there’s often a good reason why.
I have experienced and heard several stories of situations like this. We choose to love someone for the good in them, even if the good is undermined by the volume of things wrong with the relationship. We choose to have this narrow view of the person we love because we want them to change. We hope for it and we believe they are capable. This is a good, not naive, thing. There’s nothing wrong in having hope in people, we just have to be smart about who we invest those hopes in.
The truth is, people are who they want to be and they will not drastically change unless they decide to. If they know they need to improve yet choose not to, that is their decision to make but you do not have to be a part of it. If you are willing to improve yourself and set aside bad habits for your partner, they should be willing to do the same. Of course you accept them despite their weaknesses and faults but acceptance is not an excuse for stagnancy. Change is absolutely necessary for any relationship to grow and develop. Another thing on that note: some people cannot change at all. They are either crippled by fear, guilt or shame or simply cannot motivate themselves. If they can’t change for themselves, their family or their friends, what, my dear reader, makes you believe they will change for you? How long have you waited for this change that never seems to come?
As I say this, it’s as if I’m speaking to the person I was before my world turned upside down. I was the person I’m writing to. When I dated boys I used to have no boundaries when it came to love and giving. I would bend over backwards for them. I would pay for things and loan money. I would travel to visit them 90% of the time. I would give elaborate, deeply thought out gifts for birthdays and anniversaries or for no reason at all. Even when they forgot my birthday or went out with their friends on our anniversary I would make them my top priority and let my own needs come secondary. I thought this was what you were supposed to do when you loved someone. I felt I was called to serve and love without expecting anything in return, but I only saw half the picture.
The issue with doing kind and generous things for someone who does NOT return it is you WILL become exhausted, worn out and emptied of your joy, patience and security. When you pour your energy into someone who is like a black hole, sucking in your efforts and letting it vanish away, you are wasting your precious, God-given time.
Let’s be realistic. Life is short. Ask someone a decade older than you and they will tell you themselves. We don’t have much time in this life, and that makes it extremely valuable. Cherish the time you have and don’t waste your years on people who do not understand what it means to love. Love is not just kind words and intentions; it is something active and something people outside your relationship can see. When your love is real, people will notice how you both shine. One of the biggest ways you can really tell if your relationship is good for you is when your family, friends and coworkers tell you it is. If they can see a future for you with that person, you can trust you’re making a good decision.
A tell-tale sign that you are not with the right person is if month after month, or year after year, the people who love you show concern for your relationship and your future. Every relationship has its valleys but if they are constant and ongoing, if there is no improvement or change, you must leave. I tell you this out of love and nothing more. Be careful who you give your heart to because after you have been broken down over and over, it can be a huge burden that takes a lot of effort and time to heal from.
This is why we have friends and family: they help us see things from a view that we cannot see due to our rose-coloured glasses. When you’re in love, you see someone for the good and it’s easy to dismiss the bad unless as a couple you choose to be honest and open with each other about your flaws and your goals to improve.
Here are some things that make up a healthy relationship:
- Working together instead of against each other
- Freedom (not fearfulness) to be yourself and have your partner be themselves too
- Keeping honesty at the core, even if either of you don’t like it at times
- Doing everything out of love, not your desire to be right or for some manipulative motive
- Remembering why you’re together in the first place
- Setting goals for the future instead of letting day by day pass by without intention
- Taking quality time to learn about and understand each other
- Being patient with each other, accepting each other but encouraging each other to reach their personal goals and overcome their weaknesses
- Forgiving each other and making up immediately after every disagreement
- Seeking resolutions, not feeding conflict
- HAVING FUN
If the main reason you’re with your partner is because you don’t want to be alone or because you get something out of them, you’ve got a problem. You can test to see whether you love the person or just the idea of them by these simple questions:
- Do I love my partner because they add to my life?
- Do the unreciprocated efforts I make for my partner starve me of my joy?
- What do my family and friends think about this person?
- Do the pros outweigh the cons and are the cons something I can realistically live with?
- Have my partner and I made any plans about our future together? Do our goals align?
- What do I love about my partner? Are these reasons genuine or superficial?
- Why am I with my partner?
There are many more questions we should ask ourselves about our relationships, whether it’s the first month or the fourth year. Relationships are important and often take the most of our energy, and this is why we must make good decisions. To make good decisions we should consider this as we date or court. Being proactive about these things can help us avoid a lot of heartbreak and disappointment, and keep us fresh for the person we’re really meant to be with.
We might not be in control of who we fall for, but we can choose who we give our love to.