Have you been in a relationship where you knew you weren’t really happy, but you kept saying, “But I love him/her. Isn’t that enough?”
I know how it feels to believe this. I have felt this more times than I care to admit. The worst was when I fell in love with my ex-husband. He was twelve years my junior, from another country (Greece), and barely spoke English.
Our souls connected immediately, and I fell in love with him. What was I thinking? We had nothing in common. He was not ready financially or emotionally. We could not communicate. Our cultures were different. But I was in love, and shouldn’t that have been enough?
It wasn’t only my ex-husband that I had this problem with. Every relationship I’ve had was fatally flawed. They weren’t flawed because I chose bad, evil men. They were flawed because I fell in love with character and not with our compatibility or their ability to contribute to my happiness.
I fell in love with these men because of who they were, not how they made me feel. Yes, they were kind. Yes, they were ethical. Yes, they were attractive. But not one of them really listened to me. Not one of them treated me like I was the best thing since sliced bread.
Still, I stayed. I kept trying and trying. I kept thinking that if I were enough they would care more. I kept thinking if I gave more they would understand I was doing everything to make them happy, and in return they would want to make me happy.
So, whether you are in a relationship that you are unsure of right now or if you are just venturing into the dating world, ask yourself these things before you settle down.
1. How do you feel about yourself when you’re around them?
When you’re around them do you feel content and accepted, or do you feel anxious and misunderstood? Sometimes our relationships can be a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, so be careful not to push your judgment of yourself onto your partner.
Determine whether these feelings arise out of their treatment of you, or whether they are insecurities you have no matter who you are with.
Some people are just a better match for us than others. I’m someone who likes to talk and connect on a deep, emotional level. Unfortunately, I have a habit of choosing partners who don’t like to talk and don’t like to connect, so I always end up feeling alone and misunderstood. There was nothing wrong with them; we just weren’t a good match.
2. Are my needs equal in importance to their own?
When you tell your partner something is important to you, how do they react? If you tell your partner, “I really need to spend quality time with you because it makes me feel special,” and they don’t understand what that means and don’t want to know, then perhaps you are not right for each other.
Relationships take two equal parts. If you make your partner’s needs important, then your partner has to do the same or you are in a lopsided relationship and you will never be fulfilled.
I remember one time I came home from an extremely stressful week/month at work, and I really needed to vent. I started talking to my then husband. To this day I remember him saying to me, “Carrie. Carrie. I am not your girlfriend. If you want to talk, call Tracy.”
What could I do with that? If my own husband doesn’t want to talk to me and doesn’t care about my day or that I’m stressed, where can we go? Yes, you can guess where we went. We went to divorce court.