How do you know when a relationship is worth keeping?

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Last edited by tmmy_cat; 03-06-2009 at 08:46 PM.
Speckla
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Sometimes communication between the sexes is like running into a brickwall. I have to repeat things several times and my husband still asks why I didn't tell him about something when it comes up. But you should be able to talk to things like your feelings. Some guys get overloaded sometimes with the flood of emotions - they think in basic terms - "whatifs and so and so saids" fly right over their heads.

You have to decide what you ultimately want of this relationship. Can you achieve that together or will it always be like it is right now? Is it more good than bad? Answer that and you'll know what is the right thing to do. Can you live without him? Yes, anyone can. But do you want to?
I hate to cop out and use a Dear Abby saying, but she always said to ask yourself if you're better off with or without him.
Loose botticelli curls and waves
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Well, poor conflict resolution and communication issues doomed my engagement, so right now, I think they're a very big deal. It also sounds like you have life goal differences.

I think many male/female areas of confusion can be resolved if the parties are willing, but what it sounds like you're asking is, "Is it worth it with this partner?" Consider how long you've been feeling this way --- is it a recent issue, or an ongoing one (which your reference to couples' counseling would seem to indicate)?

I wish I had concrete advice for you. The thing about the Dear Abby decider (no offense, Lolo) is that it's possible to be better off in some ways, and worse off in others. Ultimately, you have to decide if the ways in which you're worse off are worth it in exchange for the ways in which you're better off.

HTH, and best wishes. I hope things work out well for you.
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Last edited by tmmy_cat; 03-06-2009 at 08:46 PM.
you raise a lot of interesting questions. first off let me say i'm sorry you're going through this. whatever you decide i'm sure it's going to be tough....

so you mentioned misaligned communication. i would say it's probably largely normal but if it's frustrating both of you then it's a problem. have you considered going to counseling again to get an outside perspective? plus a new counselor might give you some suggestions on things you two could do to meet in the middle. also sometimes counseling will uncover the root cause of the issues which could help both of you understand the others perspective a bit more. is it worth another try?

now empathy doesn't = communication and vice versa. i don't know if i ever thought much about empathy until my last situation now i feel like some measure of empathy is essential for me in a relationship if it's going to work. of course some people are naturally more empathetic than others but empathy is important in relationships. do you feel like the only way he's not empathetic is about the communication issue or does this present itself in other ways too?

ultimately i don't think a love relationship is supposed to fulfill our every human need. that's why we have other friends, family and connections BUT your relationship should provide you with a level of comfort and security and companionship that is unparalled if that makes sense. can you envision this man not being in your life? what if he were with someone else would you be okay? can you see yourself with someone else?

sorry more questions than answers...
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Last edited by luvmylocs; 11-16-2008 at 06:04 PM.
Speckla
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I think many male/female areas of confusion can be resolved if the parties are willing, but what it sounds like you're asking is, "Is it worth it with this partner?" Consider how long you've been feeling this way --- is it a recent issue, or an ongoing one (which your reference to couples' counseling would seem to indicate)?
Originally Posted by ninja dog
definitely an ongoing one and one that we have made many attempts to fix. I guess I'm just wondering how to tell if I should keep trying more.

speckla, that is an interesting question about what I would want from this relationship. I think what I want most is companionship (which we have) and empathy (which we don't have). But then I start to wonder: isn't it unrealistic to expect one person to be everything to me - especially if most men out there aren't empathetic? I wonder if I should be looking for empathy in my other relationships, like girl friends and family, and assume that I probably won't get any empathy from a man.
Originally Posted by tmmy_cat
It isn't humanly possible to be someone's all. There are things that I discuss with my sister because she's a female and understands on a level that my husband would not. I don't expect him to understand but he does listen to me when I need to talk about my feelings. We have different hobbies and interests but our main time is spent together. Do you enjoy his company? Can you easily talk or is he sensitive and takes things too personally?

Yes, you should know what you want. Do you want children, marriage, or something else in the longrun? A relationship isn't ever going to be perfect but there should be more happy times than not over the course of time. You've said you tried counselling already. That's really early in a relationship for counselling.

You have to be able to talk - it's a two-way street and be able to reverberate that you understand what they other person wants. You then move forward if you can work it out together.

Last edited by Speckla; 11-16-2008 at 06:03 PM.
Well, poor conflict resolution and communication issues doomed my engagement, so right now, I think they're a very big deal. It also sounds like you have life goal differences.

I think many male/female areas of confusion can be resolved if the parties are willing, but what it sounds like you're asking is, "Is it worth it with this partner?" Consider how long you've been feeling this way --- is it a recent issue, or an ongoing one (which your reference to couples' counseling would seem to indicate)?

I wish I had concrete advice for you. The thing about the Dear Abby decider (no offense, Lolo) is that it's possible to be better off in some ways, and worse off in others. Ultimately, you have to decide if the ways in which you're worse off are worth it in exchange for the ways in which you're better off.

HTH, and best wishes. I hope things work out well for you.
Originally Posted by ninja dog
I totally agree, so no offense. What would be intolerable to one person would be fine to another. It's up to the people involved to decide if the compromises you have to make in order to be together are worth it.
Loose botticelli curls and waves
No silicones/no sulfates since March 2008
in the words of the wise and wonderful dr. phil, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. if you guys are still having the same problems even after having counseling, chances are youre going to continue having those problems. its up to you to decide if you can continue on dealing with these issues.

best of luck to you.
If you are happy with him & feel you can be yourself, then it's a relationship worth keeping. If you have problems with who he is (differs from what you feel is important) then I would say it won't work. You may like him as a person, but if you can't enjoy life together, then it may not be worth it. A big part of being with someone is enjoying life together.
From Michael Berg:

Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."
I think if it were worth it to you to stay w/ him, you wouldn't be asking us...


It's worth it, as long as both people think it is. But you sound like you don't think so. I think subbrock is right, too. Doesn't sound like anything's changing... so you have to decide to yourself, is it worth it?
The pews never miss a sermon but that doesn't get them one step closer to Heaven.
-Speckla

But at least the pews never attend yoga!
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Last edited by tmmy_cat; 03-06-2009 at 08:46 PM.
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 15,533
That does sound like progress, tmmy; and I can tell you, I've been in things where there was NO progress, so I recognize it when I "see" it. Sounds like it will be okay.
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Last edited by tmmy_cat; 03-06-2009 at 08:46 PM.
in the words of the wise and wonderful dr. phil, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. if you guys are still having the same problems even after having counseling, chances are youre going to continue having those problems. its up to you to decide if you can continue on dealing with these issues.

best of luck to you.
Originally Posted by subbrock

ITA. Also, I don't think most men communicate that way.
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 15,533
Well, I'm a writer, and I had a lot of what you described with my ex-husband. But we still drove each other nuts. So...just be careful not to romanticize "empathy."
I dug up this old thread because I've been thinking about this more and more the past few weeks. I still feel like I'm missing something important in my relationship and it bothers me - because how on earth do you break up with someone who hasn't done anything wrong?

I find myself almost fishing for reasons that would make sense to break up with him - kids? Dogs? Travel? But the only thing that even bothers me is the lack of empathy.

I'm not dreaming this up, am I? Empathy does exist. I've met people who can see the posture of my neck out of the corner of their eye and just based on that, know exactly what I'm feeling. I'm drawn to people who understand body language and who notice tiny things about the world. I'm drawn to people who already understand the appeal of walking alone in the rain and I don't have to explain why I like it because they already know. I'm drawn to people who hear my voice catch on the second word and they tell me to stop talking, because they already know. Artists, writers seem to have this more often than other people.

I feel like my relationship is incomplete without it.

I don't know how to tell him.

I can't expect him to change. He's a wonderful, independent, intelligent, logical, loving, thoughtful person. Just not empathetic.
Originally Posted by tmmy_cat
I know it's hard. I had a similar situation breaking up with my ex. But that's a very good reason. Honestly I think it's very inconsiderate for him to shut you out when you need to talk about things. I dated a guy for 2 months like that and couldnt take it anymore.
I dug up this old thread because I've been thinking about this more and more the past few weeks. I still feel like I'm missing something important in my relationship and it bothers me - because how on earth do you break up with someone who hasn't done anything wrong?

I find myself almost fishing for reasons that would make sense to break up with him - kids? Dogs? Travel? But the only thing that even bothers me is the lack of empathy.

I'm not dreaming this up, am I? Empathy does exist. I've met people who can see the posture of my neck out of the corner of their eye and just based on that, know exactly what I'm feeling. I'm drawn to people who understand body language and who notice tiny things about the world. I'm drawn to people who already understand the appeal of walking alone in the rain and I don't have to explain why I like it because they already know. I'm drawn to people who hear my voice catch on the second word and they tell me to stop talking, because they already know. Artists, writers seem to have this more often than other people.

I feel like my relationship is incomplete without it.

I don't know how to tell him.

I can't expect him to change. He's a wonderful, independent, intelligent, logical, loving, thoughtful person. Just not empathetic.
Originally Posted by tmmy_cat
Yes, it does exist. My ex could hear my day in my voice the moment I answered the phone. That man could read me like a book, and I him. In fact, I knew when we were together 2 years ago that he would end up choosing the same field of medicine I am going into, but at the time he was enamored of an entirely different field. I never told him, but he did end up choosing the field I thought he would. I find myself looking for the same connection in every single relationship since (haven't found it).
"Well I love that dirty water. Oh, Boston, you're my home!"
I think if it were worth it to you to stay w/ him, you wouldn't be asking us...


It's worth it, as long as both people think it is. But you sound like you don't think so. I think subbrock is right, too. Doesn't sound like anything's changing... so you have to decide to yourself, is it worth it?
Originally Posted by NetG
ITA....I wouldn't be in a relationship that I wondered if it was worth it. If I didn't know for sure, I'd be out of there.
From Michael Berg:

Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."
I don't think it's fair to characterize men as generally lacking in empathy. It's easy for me to say because I'm married and my husband possesses this particular trait, but all of my close male friends have this trait as well, and as much as I love my husband and friends, I don't think they're that unusual a sampling of men in general (except for that they have the good taste to be friends with me, of course).

My instinct would be that you need more from a mate than this man can give-- not because he doesn't love you enough, but because you're just not compatible on the level that you seem to want. Obviously neither of you are bad people, but I think in the long run you'll both feel like you should have tried for more, for a better connection.

How do you break up with someone that hasn't done anything wrong? I wish it happened more often. Relationships aren't just a matter of two people who can manage not to piss each other off, it's more than that and I wish more people would realize that. I would explain to him that you love him, but in the long run you don't think you're compatible and that you both deserve a chance at finding a better fit.

I hope it all works out for you.
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