Simple answer no. No NO NO. Yes…get ready for a little soapboxing on my part….
I’ve been moonlighting as a relationship expert on WIZPERT and I’ve been talking to several people both men and women who are in bad relationships who desperately want to hear from me that it’s ok to keep trying with this person because “they are in love.”
I began this blog as a firm believer in love means you stay. And there is a time for that. And I still believe it. But to be more clear…there should be a natural progression to it.
STEP ONE: you begin a relationship of friendship – there is an interest and a spark – so you take some time to get to know who it is you’ve sparked with.
Why do people skip this step? They jump straight into bed which complicates the heck out of everything. Come to find out a few months later they don’t even LIKE the person they’ve fallen IN LOVE with and the resentment starts, the manipulations start, and before you know it there are two people who feel stuck.
Step one should be no commitment. This is the time period where you are getting to know someone. If you keep it casual and just friends then you aren’t overly concerned about “making it work” so you don’t try so hard to impress allowing you to be the REAL YOU. If they end up liking the REAL YOU instead of the pretend fantasy you, they might actually end up wanting to STAY. See the logic here? If you aren’t a good match…love won’t change that. If you end up being a good fit…THEN move on to step two but ONLY if you are two people who are friends and can like each other without sex being part of the equation.
STEP TWO: you begin a romantic relationship that is committed.
Romance can blind you to red flags. This is a dangerous phase because this is the phase people’s hearts get broken into pieces. But you can’t skip it. It’s biology. When you become a couple your hormones go crazy and give you nearly uncontrollable urges and feelings of euphoria. But if you predetermine that you are both committed to one another solely…then you can open yourself (the same REAL YOU they already know) to even deeper levels of knowing and you express the REAL YOU to that person in very intimate ways that only they receive and it strengthens your bond. It doesn’t have to include sex either.
But in this period everything gets more serious and you continue getting to know this person as their guard comes down even more. This is often when people get a wake up call and realize they missed something or learn something that is alarming and decide they need to break it off. And this is the period because they are already in deep…that many have trouble doing so. It’s hard to break someone’s heart…even your own. But its crucial to do it now. Don’t excuse your partner for treating you poorly, disrespectfully, or unlovingly.
I had to do it and I’m glad I did. It was very hard to do. After getting to know Slimeball as a friend and after it grew into romance months later…I found out he was a pathological liar and was still married despite being engaged to me. That was something I could not excuse. And when I told him so he changed from a happy-go-lucky, very likable guy into a mean, nasty, ornery, twist the knife after you stab me in the back type guy. And it was done.
The thing is…my heart still cared…there was still love there. And it was not enough. I needed more and so does everyone else. I could have stayed and we would still be going around and around about everything he chose to lie to me about and I would be miserable.
I’m all for giving people chances, but a pattern is a pattern. And if they makes multiple attempts and keep doing the same thing or having the same attitude, then you have to choose the right thing for your future and deny the feelings you feel in the moment. Head must rule over the heart.
But if things keep getting deeper and you know you still LIKE and now LOVE this person….there is no reason to leave…
STEP THREE: you stay.
The only people who leave in this stage are the people who didn’t do what they should have done in steps one and two. If you stay with someone who is not worthy of you and or doesn’t suit you…you REALLY start to feel oppressed by your lack of leaving because now you’re married. And now your supposed to stay. Staying doesn’t become as romantic a notion when you’ve been lied to, cheated on, treated with disrespect, treated in an unloving way…like somehow you staying will change this person. NO. Now it feels oppressive.
This happened to my ex-husband he felt oppressed by me. He wanted to leave and I had to let him go. And it was heart-wrenching. Utterly. I married him with an enormous amount of doubt on my part. But I loved him… knew we had struggled in our relationship to be a good fit. I thought at the time if I loved him it would be enough and we’d get through anything. I was wrong.
But if you’ve done what needed to be done in steps one and two this is when you become one and this is when you say, “No matter what happens I will stay.”
Personalities evolve, people grow in different ways but if you are best friends you grow and mold together. If you did step one right as the romance fades (and it will – remember it’s biology) you will have an awesome friendship as a foundation to your marriage.
Here is when you say….if you lose your job, if you get sick, if you want to move, if, if, if, whatever the if might be…we are choosing each other every day to be the one we ride out that if with. We will not abandon each other.
And that is why you stay. Because there is more than just love to back up your promise. There is history, there is friendship, there is knowing them to their core better than anyone else on the planet. THE REAL YOU…all the way into the deepest darkest places YOU. And you are loyal to them and they are to you.
I think if more people are brave enough to know when to walk away…more people would stay married. I should not have married my first husband. I think I knew deep down that one of these days he would pop and he did. We simply were not a good fit.
I think if more people would build a relationship on friendship instead of sex there would be a lot more happy marriages. When romance comes out of real friendship it will be more lasting because love-making becomes an expression of that real love instead of just raw acts meant to excite and entice. In marriage there will be times for that raw stuff…but no one can keep that up all the time. So if that’s all you have to begin with? I think it’s doomed. And I don’t say that lightly.
This time when I get married in less than two months now I will not have any doubts. I know I’m marrying my best friend who would go to the grave defending me, loving me, enjoying my company because he met the real me, decided he liked me a lot, fell in love with the real me, and decided because that like and love were so deep and abiding that he wanted to honor what was already here with a promise to love and cherish me forever in marriage.
This time…I did the hard work before. And we have love overflowing. But we also have so much more….