Why do people stay in relationships that aren’t great? This question has been plaguing my mind of late, as well as the questions of why people cheat and why people get back together after breaking up. I mulled the first question around with a friend via email, and this post stems from said email.
Lets set the stage – you’ve found yourself in a relationship that isn’t too great. It seems like a lot of work, you don’t get what you want out of it, and there are some pretty major flaws kicking around with how you two interact – in short, you aren’t terribly compatible with your partner. So why stay with them? Why not cut your losses and get back to living your life how you want. There’s something to be said about being single. I know I’m not the poster-girl for being single – especially lately, but to me it almost seems like there are two ends of the spectrum to be content with, and a big middle-ground to try to avoid.
One end of the spectrum- being single. It allows you to be you again. Not you with someone else, not you considering what he thinks about you, not you compromising what you want for him — just you. It allows you the time and freedom to live your life exactly how you want to – and to include other people (friends, men, etc) how you see fit. There is something to be said about being you just being you.
The other end of the spectrum – being in love. I don’t know why, but every time I contemplate love I think about Carries speech to the Russian about love- “Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.” (Sex and the City folks, and yes I googled it). I can’t say I am an expert about knowing what the hell love is exactly, but I think I’m getting closer. And I can say confidently what love isn’t. It isn’t being unhappy most of the time, it isn’t being disrespected, it isn’t yearning for attention, it isn’t feeling inadequate or not enough, it isn’t settling, and it certainly isn’t compromising who you are or what you need and want from life or in a partner.
And then there’s the in between that you’d like to avoid – the semi-okay relationship that you’re still hoping will turn into something. I believe this is where me and my last boyfriend made it to. We were progressing in a relationship and it got to this point where I was all like “yep, you’re awesome, I’m in love” and he was all like “I dunno man”. This went on for a year. A year where I was always wondering how he felt, always doubting myself and never outrightly happy about it all. Personally, I think we should have broken up when we first realized this. It’s easier said then done though, and I naively dragged it out (as did he) for a while before we broke up. It made things harder and I got pretty hurt in the end. The point is, if you’re looking for love and looking for a solid relationship, then dinking around with the semi-relationships aren’t worth it. I think if you’re just trying to have company, if you’re just trying to have sex, or you’re just going on dates to meet some folks – great, all the power to ya. But if you’re in a committed relationship (ie. engaged) with someone you aren’t terribly excited about – someone you aren’t really really in love with — why bother?
I’ve been thinking a lot about love, about relationships – reflecting on who I’ve dated and what the hell happened, looking at what I have now, seeing what I’ve learned about myself and what I need. I think it’s because I’ve had my close friends on my mind; people in varying stages of relationships. I care so much about my friends and their happiness – I want them to find someone who makes them happy. Really happy, not just luke-warm happy. Everyone deserves to be in love with someone really special who makes them really happy – that’s not too much to ask, is it?