“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
Typically, when clients walk into my office questioning “is this relationship worth it?”, there are a few themes that arise. While they can identify that fighting often and the lack of trust in their partner makes them question the future of the relationship, those themes usually aren’t enough to make-it or break-it.
This is when I encourage clients to…
1. Consider your goals and dreams for the future.
How does your partner fit into them – if at all? How do you fit into theirs? Are you able to compromise and create shared dreams together? Or do your varying ideals tear you apart?
It’s likely you won’t have the same exact dreams and you may disagree on the route to get there. But there is a big difference between not being able to agree on how to fold the towels and whether or not to have kids. If you have to sacrifice any part of you or your life that is a non-negotiable, that’s a good sign that this is not the relationship for you.
2. Ask yourself – what do you want in a partner?
Remember that list you made in the 9th grade? Tall. Nice teeth. Quarterback. Straight A’s. It’s time to create a new list. What is it that is really important to you in a partner?
If you’re struggling to answer this question, you’ll often find that friends and people you love spending time with will display the same characteristics. You’re also encouraged to jot down the opposite of negative characteristics of partners in the past. If you couldn’t stand your ex who had a new job every other month, “stable” might be a good trait to look for.
3. Reflect on how your partner treats you in comparison to how you deserve to be treated. How do you want to be treated?
While this may bring up similarities to the last question, it’s worth having a category of its own. Get very specific with this one. If you believe you deserve to be treated with kindness, identify what that looks like. You are the only one that is going to advocate for the treatment you deserve, so make sure your partner meets those standards. If not, it might be time to give them the boot.
4. Once you’ve identified these areas, set aside a time to chat with your partner about them.
If you don’t believe the two of you can communicate without getting stuck or rehashing old wounds, consider finding a couple’s therapist to help you navigate through these conversations. You are both worth having a relationship that you want to be in!
Samantha Ricard, MS, MFTC – www.ricardcounseling.com
With relationships it is easy to get caught up in the honeymoon stage-becoming wrapped up in the feel-good emotions that are often present at the start.
After time passes things become more comfortable and familiar. It is also a common time where deeper layers of each person’s personality shines through.
This can be a time of revelation and honesty which can bring about sometimes difficult moments- first fights, seeing traits that one person may not like in another, noticing some incompatibilities, etc.
What is important to one woman may be very different for another so therefore dating is very subjective and unless the behaviors or traits are very unhealthy/toxic/harmful or dangerous, what one woman may see as a deal breaker, another woman may not.
Being open and truthful with herself and in talking about what her deal breakers are is needed.
What does a woman do when she notices her partner is showing more and more characteristics that she does not like, or perhaps there is only one trait or behavior she doesn’t like but it feels like a big deal?
If the issue is the effort in general that a woman is seeing lacking from her man it is important for her to ask herself what she wants her relationship to look like.
Some people want much more time spent with their partner than others. Some people expect to hear from their partner much more often than others.
Each woman has to decide what is right for her.
She should really take the time to ask herself what she prefers from her partner.
Once she knows how much she wants to see from her partner (effort, time, initiation, etc) then it must be discussed to see how her man responds.
Observing from there:
- What are her man’s behaviors?
- Is he is mindful of her wants and needs and puts in more effort?
From here, his ability to listen and tweak things is important.
Whether a man is empathic or not, able to respect desires and to match her pace will be telling through what he decides to do with the information she has given him. If he decides to make some healthy behavior changes to show more effort this shows he cares and wants a successful relationship.
A lot will be said through actions and not words.
A woman who can reflect on what she wants, speak her mind by putting it out there to her man, then observes her man’s behaviors to see if he can work on the things she dislikes the more likely she is ensuring a compatible relationship.
Heather Petitpas, MEd, LMHC – www.tissuesfortheissues.com
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