Fix Yourselves, Not Each Other

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

If you’re struggling in a relationship, then listen up. That road is never an easy one under the best of circumstances, so stop believing the lie that it is only right if it’s easy. News flash:

If your relationship is so easy you can’t believe it, then don’t believe it.

Successful relationships take work by both parties. Unsuccessful ones, too, but mostly the work being done in those is of the finger-pointing variety. 

Oh, that is hard work too, you know. Especially when the result is endless fighting that not only saps your physical strength, but also your very soul. Focusing on others might save you the trouble of taking a hard look at yourself, but solving your internal issues is ultimately much more rewarding.

Emotional immaturity and intellectual dishonesty go hand-in-hand. Simply put, operating in a space where everyone else is always wrong and you are always right is both juvenile and untrue. Is your ego really so important that you are willing to alienate others and set yourself up to repeatedly fail?

“But, but…my parents made me the way I am!”

This statement is simply more finger-pointing. I used to tell this lie too, but I had to come to a place in my life where I acknowledged — with complete honesty — that everything I do in adulthood is on my bill. We can’t control the circumstances of our birth or the way we were raised, but as adults we must take control of what we become.

When we enter into relationships with others, we have to recognize that they have their faults and we have ours. If what you require from another is perfection, then prepare to be disappointed. And blame yourself when that happens. When you place unrealistic expectations on someone else, they will always fail to reach them. 

If you have been through a number of failed relationships, then consider the possible reasons why:

  1. You were simply with the wrong people. You can only know this for sure if you really know yourself, and if you really take the time to get to know them. Many relationships start out hot because of physical attraction/chemistry, common interests, or some other shared characteristic, only to fizzle out once you do the actual work of getting to know each other. When you rush through that process to get to the good stuff, you forget that the potentially bad stuff matters, too.
  2. You were simply the wrong person. You’ve been hurt. You had a bad model for adulthood when you were a child. You didn’t show the real you to the other person, so they were fooled. Whatever the reason, you simply didn’t treat the other person the way they needed or deserved to be treated.
  3. You have unresolved pain still holding you back. As I mentioned before, successful relationships take hard work. The hardest part of this hard work is addressing your own issues and resolving them without making them someone else’s problem. Whatever you happen to be dragging through life, just know that this person likely didn’t cause it. So don’t punish them for it.
  4. You did something in this relationship to create the problem. If trust is an issue in your relationship–and you caused it–then admit your fault and do whatever is necessary to heal that division. And don’t decide for both of you what that process and the timeline should be. You did the crime, so do the time. That doesn’t mean surrendering to an eternity of penance or allowing them to chisel you into something you are not, but it does mean that you owe that person the effort it takes to regain their trust and adoration.
  5. They did something to create the problem, and you refuse to forgive them. We have all done wrong things in our lives. We have all hurt someone else unnecessarily at some point. Don’t be the kind of person who willingly takes forgiveness while stubbornly withholding it yourself. Every person in every relationship will need grace at some point. The space to recover from a mistake and demonstrate contrition and a willingness to be better. Every person includes your partner.

You will never succeed in any relationship if you are the most important person in your own mind. If your feelings are all that matter to you — if what they do, say, think, or feel is all that should ever be held accountable in your mind — then prepare to fail.

Do you want to succeed? Then be what they need. Be the person to them that you want them to be to you. If you’re doing that and this still isn’t working, then you’re probably in the wrong relationship.

Just don’t assume you are because you refuse to do the work.

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