I did a quick Google this morning for some psychology articles... psychology is a subject that I've been extremely interested in for a while now, so these are easy (yet thought-provoking) reads for me. I came across a few good ones about attraction and love, what makes a stable, healthy relationship... but here's a few I liked the best (written by Rebecca Webber); they go hand-in-hand:
"Are You with the Right Mate? | Psychology Today"
"The Way Things Are | Psychology Today"
"Yes, Virginia, Some Mates Really Are Wrong | Psychology Today"
Do yourself a favor... take a few minutes and read them. I think these are really emphasising an often overlooked idea about love and relationships -- the idea that those strong initial feelings, and all other positive aspects, should be taken into consideration when the relationship falls on hard times.
Furthermore, here are some of the other, also important, ideas I grabbed from these articles:
- When the relationship becomes more of a burden than a source of happiness, look at YOURSELF to make changes, versus trying to change or blame the other person. Rebecca gives this as an example of a question to ask yourself: "In what ways are we failing to make one another happy?" She suggests that maybe something YOU are doing might be the cause of the other person's behavior that you find upsetting. Or, there may just be something in you that has changed to cause the sudden unhappiness. Don't jump to blaming anyone (yourself OR the other person), but do explore both sides of the problem before taking any action. Which leads me to the next idea I gathered...
- Think a little bit before deciding to "settle or leave". Relationships are not strictly black and white, "right or wrong". Explore your available options... the initial feelings were there, they brought you this far, they should be worth the effort, right?
- A good rebuttal to this point... , Rebecca also brings up drug addictions... don't try to change yourself to accommodate such addictions (or other bad behaviors: cheating, lying, etc.). The third article does a great job of explaining why. These are bigger problems in relationships that have less chances of being fixed, or would not be worth the effort.
- Lack of communication, "drifting apart", or even lack of "compatibility" and common interests are more likely signs that the relationship needs to be IMPROVED than ended. Rebecca makes a good point here that this is simply both people involved causing the relationship to "deteriorate". Outside sources of stress, like jobs or family stress, can cause all of these. Today, we are inspired by independence. We want to be able to solve problems on our own, or in our own way. Being in a life-long relationship requires us to devise a way to deal with our individual problems with another person always close by (without letting it negatively affect our feelings or relationship as a whole)... this is just a cold, hard fact. If you don't want to do this, you're not ready for a relationship. It's that simple.
- "Infatuation fades for everyone." Rebecca pulled this quote from a book called Everybody Marries the Wrong Person by Christine Meinecke, Ph.D. The title of this book is extremely strong in itself... it brings up another important idea from the articles... There IS no "right" person! There is no plan for each of us, and there is no perfect match. There is no "the one" that we're going to find and completely mesh with right off the bat, and just like that for the rest of time. Every relationship has problems, and every relationship requires two people to learn how to solve them... you cannot go in expecting things to be easy, because the easy things in life are NOT usually the ones most appreciated. Work for what you want, and it will be worth it! I can guarantee you every couple that has been married for, let's say, over 30 years will tell you it wasn't always easy. IT. TAKES. WORK.
- Coming off of the point above, it takes work, but it also takes TWO that both understand this concept. Do not expect a relationship to work if you have a partner who is so easy to "throw their hands up" and drop the relationship because stress has caused a series of arguments. When you're looking for a partner, look for one who is able to see that problems have solutions, and one who is willing to work for them... TRUE love is usually the motivation here. If the other person can not understand why a relationship should require so much work, maybe his or her beliefs about love shouldn't be questioned, but his or her feelings for you should... I guarantee when that person finds someone worth it, they'll do work to no end to make the relationship go on for as long as possible.
- "No one is going to get all their needs met in a relationship." "We're all flawed." "But consumer culture tells us we should not settle for anything that is not ideal for us." (These are taken from a book called Take Back Your Marriage by William J. Doherty). HALLELUJAH! Again, there is a reason we are so attracted and infatuated in the beginning. There are also problems like cheating and addictions that should not be excused, BUT we ARE all flawed, and because we all know this, we should come to expect that parts of a relationship WILL be more than difficult or even tolerable. Magazines, movies, television shows... they are all showing us how we need to find "the one"... even starting in our childhood (Rebecca brings up Cinderella as a reference). As I've said before, by all means, never settle for things like cheating, drugs, etc. However, in the case of problems in things such as communication, DO look at your initial feelings. Look at the things that originally attracted you to this person and brought love, comfort, and trust. Use THOSE to determine your course of action in the "failing" relationship, not the current problems and emotions at hand
- In the middle of the first article listed above, Rebecca gives a good list of traits in a person that contribute to a successful relationship, and also traits that might just lead to an end to the relationship (or one not even starting). These are definitely worth reading... they might give you an idea of some realistic expectations to have when entering a relationship
A little reiteration....
Don't beat yourself up over a relationship. Make sure, in the process of finding solutions and getting to know and understand each other, that RESPECT is still there. Don't let your emotions control your thoughts, words and actions. You're in the relationship for a reason, and that reason is the person you are looking at. Remember what that person means to you.
Also, make sure you have the right tools for the job... mostly TWO open minds, love, respect, and devotion. Without these things on BOTH sides, you will just enter a continuous circle of arguments... which will get ugly.
Make sure the relationship you're fighting for is worth it... this means make sure that it is worth it to BOTH SIDES. If you are not both committed to making this work, it's time to part ways.
...and make sure what you want is realistic. Hopefully the articles or ideas above have emphasised this point already, but take a look at your expectations. Realize that not one person in this world will ever meet every single one of them.
Ahhh.. what a refreshing abundance of information to fill the mind! Let's all go forward in remembering how GOOD it feels to BE loved, and how good it feels to love!
...and, of course, that all good, appreciated things in life require effort.
Edit: Have any of you ever thought about how each of us usually fall for those who exhibit different traits than us, and these differences are often what make us admire that person? Then why is it that as a relationship goes on we decide that things must be our way (or the highway)? Maybe that's the next thought I'll explore.