This week, on my “go-to” AM Talk radio show, the hosts debated the differences in genders on “seeking relationship advice.” The unsurprising conclusion was that women are bombarded with relationship tidbits and advice in magazines and television shows targeted to our demographic.
By Alexis Maron
Read an article from a men’s magazine and you may likely be reading something like “5 Best Tricks to Get Her into Bed,” as opposed to advice on how to choose the best partner or anything discussing romance or soulmates.
As women, we are drawn to seeking out any advice we can get to evade the “Cupid Shuffle.” We turn to counselors or life coaches (like me!), articles, Google searches and self-help books. Even with all of this evidence at our fingertips, women still have difficulty knowing when to say, “it’s over” when the relationship is no longer working.
One of the most common questions I am asked is:
“Should I stay in my relationship?”
I can’t tell you how often I wish I had a crystal ball to be able to conjure up the correct answer, but as we all know, it doesn’t work that way.
I start with a very simple inquiry in return: “Are you happy?” Usually, if a person has reached the point to seek help or counsel, they are not at their happiest, and so typically the answer is a resounding, “No.”
Now, it is my duty to offer perspective and some tools to help the person pick apart what is working and what isn’t, and if there are some apparent deal-breakers that are simply that: deal-breakers. The most important thing to remember is that no one can tell you exactly what to do in a relationship because everyone’s journey is different. But, you can be guided to do a little relationship surgery when dissecting your current situation.
Here are 5 STEPS to work through as you evaluate your relationship:
Ask yourself this simple and yet not-so-simple question: What percentage of the time am I truly happy in this relationship, as a whole?
Next, look at the situation from a third-party point of view: If your best friend were in your same situation, what advice would you give him/her? Then, whatever that advice is, apply it to yourself.
Is your body giving you any signals, like anxiety or headaches, panic attacks or a loss of appetite? When thinking about your situation, if you have any of these symptoms, this may be your body’s direct way of telling you that you have reached a certain limit, and something needs to change.
In the hard times, we grapple with wondering if this is a challenge to push through or a hard limit that needs to be heeded. In those moments, it is necessary to ask yourself if you care to learn a lesson. Does pushing through this moment teach you something that you desire to be better at in your life, or are you hanging on solely for your partner and/or for habit and fear of change?
Lastly, you must be very honest with yourself about your realistic, long-term goals. Does this moment/partner take you one step closer or one step further away from a personal life goal?
The aim of these questions is to provide you with a more definitive understanding of your own desires. We tend to ignore the most blatant signs that our bodies give us, and yet, they are usually the most in tune when something is being pushed or tested. If you find that the majority of your answers above had you feeling defensive in the moment, that is a true signal that something isn’t right in your world.
Once you have a better understanding of what you are feeling, then it’s time to share with your partner and see if there is a mutual disconnect or an opportunity to reconnect through communication.
It could be as simple as shining some light on the subject. Once both of you are on board, you can work together to rectify issues. But, if you share your concerns with your partner and there does not seem to be any recognition or desire to be better, the final question to ask is:
“Can I live like this and maintain my self-worth?”
I don’t want to pretend that any of this is easy.
Women seek out advice on love more than anything else because it is the area most out of our control, and causes the most emotional distress. It takes two to make a healthy relationship work. So, when wondering if this is your ideal partner, the essential quality to recognize in someone is if they want to put in the work the same way that you do. When you look across the table, do you see someone who can and wants to problem-solve with you? If not, I think you already know what you need to do!
Go gently, my friends…