Settling for someone less than you deserve makes for two unhappy people instead of one.— Xenocrates
|Most people want to get to this state. The trouble is, some people don't care how.|
I've heard many people complain about their unsatisfactory relationships, only to see them break up and start another one just like it. What's the reasoning for this? Wouldn't it make more sense to learn from the past? As it turns out, that is not the problem. Most people would much rather to be in a relationship than be in love. They are relationship addicts — slaves to the want of being desired at any risk. The addiction has now reached pandemic proportions.
People instinctively keep repeating their bad relationships because they would rather settle for short term gratification than spend anytime being lonely and unloved. It is as if they are so addicted to the dopamine fix that comes with being in a relationship, that they would actually knowingly start a relationship they know isn't going anywhere with someone they barely like. The end result is a post 30 year old teen chasing one night stands. Does this sound familiar?
If so, we need to talk.
Settling for less
One of the key contributors to the higher divorce rates today is the fact that people are more willing to settle for less. Why settle for less? Because people keep telling themselves that the perfect person doesn't exist, and that they're searching for an impossible lover. Certainly, this is flawed thinking. Women are especially victim to this because of preoccupation with their age and their biological clock. But this can't suffice as an excuse for their very poor choices in men.
What most people fail to realise, is that perfection is actually relative to the individual, not to humanity. Therefore, while we understand that there is no perfect person, there may in fact, be a person ideally suited for most people. It's just a matter of identifying them. Until then, people enjoy stop gap lovers to tide them over until Mr. or Ms. Right walks through the door.
With that said, it is important to acknowledge that developing a successful relationship hinges almost exclusively on one's willingness to compromise. But doing so should not necessarily mean compromising the core aspects of your personality. Before getting into a relationship, many people know what they must have and yet they fail to identify what they cannot stand.
To Compromise or not
Now I'm not saying that some level of compromise isn't necessary. However, if your mate requires that you compromise certain critical aspects about yourself, that doesn't work either. Certain levels of compromise will only make you unhappy - even though not compromising makes the other person unhappy. So why start a relationship if you will both be unhappy?
Such deadlocks should just be avoided altogether. That's why you should get to really know someone before you court them - notice that I said before courtship, not before marriage. Settling for someone less than you deserve makes for two unhappy people instead of one. If your respective natures makes each other miserable, no amount of compromise will fix that.
When you start a relationship, it has to be along the lines of the least compromise necessary. Most people start relationships and worry about the compromising part later. Aside from their putting the cart before the horse, it also may cause people to become enemies when they were just fine as friends. This is especially true if the friendship existed before attraction did.
Therefore you shouldn't start a relationship that has no hope only to later be deceived by its longevity that it does. Going out on regular dates with someone for 3 years is not the same as being married to that person for 1 year. This is a common mistake most unfortunate couples seem to make when courting. To better predict such unsavory outcomes, one must first learn:
Symptoms of Relationship Addiction
There are several symptoms that relationship addicts typically exhibit, that they usually fail to recognize. Knowing what these symptoms are is critical to determining when a relationship is experiencing growing pains as opposed to when it is obviously a farce. While there are quite a few in symptoms in all, I have condensed the most common symptoms into ten broad areas.
Look at your existing relationship. If just one of these flaws exist, it means your relationship isn't whole and it will soon fall apart when that hole grows into a gaping cavern. If you have more than one of these flaws in the relationship, it means that it has no hope of long term continuity. No rational person would continue a relationship under any of those circumstances.
The people who do however, are certainly relationship addicts. They are people that are just looking to fix their need to be loved, like a crack whore would sell herself for just enough to buy another fix — but not enough to stop selling themselves short. Therefore, you might be a relationship addict if in your existing or any of your previous relationships you've noticed that:
10. Your worst fights are about the smallest stuff
If you spend a lot of your relationship fighting about pet peeves, that's just a teething pain. Even compatible personalities will carry irritating idiosyncrasies. Compromise usually fixes these without a problem. Before you decide to act on a pet peeve, remember that your mate may have a few of their own. They have to learn how to ignore your annoying habits as well.
However, if you've started to fight about your pet peeves when they didn't bother you before, then that points to a much bigger problem. Remember that love helps you to ignore most of the irritating quirks of your special someone. If those quirks suddenly become a problem, that means the love has died. Love is the gas mask you wear in the toxic chamber of relationships.
09. You don't enjoy conversation with your lover
While losing interest in sex is usually an immediate deal breaker, that is usually preceded by losing interest in conversation. Sporadic moments of silence aren't typically an issue as those tend to be attributable to moment specific factors. In fact, spending time in each others' arms and saying absolutely nothing can be one of the best conversations couples could ever have.
If however your lover spends more time talking to platonic friends of the opposite sex about nothing in particular, this is usually an early warning sign of a lack of intellectual satisfaction or worse, a loss of interest — even if sex is still on the table. Many men falsely believe that so long as a woman gives him sex that the relationship is alive, even if nothing else happens.
That could be no further from the truth.
08. You have very few common interests
Men and women typically have a vast array of disparate interests. Of these, there have to be a few things that you two love doing together aside from sex. An inability to identify such things may just mean that couple has a lot of exploring to do. It doesn't have to be many things - so long as there is at least one item of mutual interest that isn't oriented around sex.
If you're consistently having trouble identifying even a handful of things that you two enjoy doing together, then chances are that you two will eventually begin drifting apart. These are things that I like to call "replay value activities" that describe why you'd want to keep going back to that person. It's these things that power sexual desire; not the other way around.
07. Your mutual life outlook lacks resonance
There's nothing more critical to the success of a relationship than having the same ultimate strategic plan. This refers to what you two intend to do with your respective lives. So make sure that you share the same outlook on children, spirituality, money, family, gender roles and career. If even one of these is a mismatch, don't even start. You'll both be wasting your time.
With that said, most people tend to not know what their position is on these things at a certain age. This is one of the many reasons why marrying young is a bad idea. If however someone reaches the full context of adulthood and is still indecisive about one or more of these things, then chances are, they are going to remain that way for much of their lives.
If so, move along.
06. Cognitive dissonance replaces attraction
Let's not kid ourselves. Physical attraction is a major part of why people are drawn to each other. It's one thing to be drawn to someone's mind so much that you could possibly overlook whatever physical attributes they have that turn you off. That tends to happen more often than not. Even so, there aren't many people who have developed that level of abstraction.
If however you constantly find yourself saying things like "Well, at least she's [insert quality here]" or "So what if he's [insert flaw here], he's [insert asset here]", then rest assured that's your cognitive dissonance talking. Cognitive dissonance will never replace genuine attraction. I admit that love can grow out of cognitive dissonance, but are you willing to take that risk? You are only setting up someone for a heartbreak. Quickly cut them loose before tying any knots.
Spare them (and yourself) the drama.
05. You have many break up / make up cycles
If you find yourself still dating someone who has broken up with you before, there's the off chance that it may have been a momentary lapse in judgment, particularly if it was fueled by the heat of anger or having their spirit broken out of frustration. These things tend to cloud the judgment of even the best people. That's why moments of anger require time to diffuse.
However, if it was a calm, collected, premeditated breakup on their part, it is usually a sign that your relationship was only an emotional placebo for them. You can tell by the fact that they usually try to get back together with you shortly after the annexation. The reason why they broke up in the first place was because they thought they had found your replacement.
As the old adage goes: "Use sleep to mark death".
04. You consciously store up ammo for future arguments
When you genuinely love someone, you tend to forgive their transgressions and after a while, forget they ever happened. That's what love does - it provides us with the capacity to actually ignore the flaws of our loved ones. For as I've said before many times on this blog, love is not designed to identify problems. It is designed to ignore them. Therefore, this logically follows:
If you find yourself memorizing every wrong that your loved one has done just in case there is a flare up about it later, or bringing them up every time you two have a fight (whether related or not), then that points to the obvious: You are not in love. You are only in a relationship of convenience. An inability to pardon means that love was likely never even there to begin with.
03. There is more jealousy than fulfillment
The emotion of jealousy is not an intrinsically bad thing. It is how we subconsciously defend our emotional investment. Jealousy is an emotional response to feeling threatened by another that is considered to be an emotional rival where one should not exist. However, jealousy in relationships requires careful management as it tends to generate quite a few false positives.
Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to realize that relationships aren't supposed to make them feel insecure all the time. A little jealousy is healthy. It means that the flames of romance are still alive. But when irrational insecurity leads to delusional jealousy, it's probably time to end it. Relationships are supposed to be fulfilling experiences - not emotionally poisonous trysts.
02. You are subconsciously looking for a replacement
No relationship will completely satisfy anyone sexually. That's why emotional satisfaction is so important. Emotional satisfaction is usually the only thing that keeps people faithful (aside from social pressures). Even so, everyone has regarded other potential mates while already in a relationship. This is perfectly normal and is a natural part of being a warm blooded animal.
However, if this regard evolves into genuine pursuit, or develops into feelings of longing for emotional fulfillment from someone who could become a possible replacement, then that means you are still building a ladder. It's the same reason why some people have very long term relationships that never evolve into marriage. They are still looking for a replacement.
01. When blind trust does not exist
I was recently told by a married woman that she doesn't trust her husband. When asked why then did she marry him, her response, quite simply, was that she loves him. What she doesn't realize however, is that there's a fundamental difference between being in love and having an emotional dependency. He was her first love. So understandably, she can't tell the difference.
I was recently told by one of my colleagues that he suspects that his girlfriend is cheating on him based on her past relationships. So why is he with her? Because she is hot. I won't lie, she is hot indeed. But he, like the married woman before, has allowed a secondary element of their relationship to become its primary. Trust is what should facilitate love and relationships.
Everybody however, is doing it backwards.
If your relationship wasn't originally built on trust through genuine friendship and happened to be spawned out of something else (usually sex) then rest assured, your relationship will have failed before it began. Even so, if you don't trust your lover, you are only demonstrating your impatience by putting the cart before the horse, eventually becoming another divorce statistic.
Breaking the Addiction
You can't break your addiction for being in a relationship without breaking your own will in the process. So let's get that out of the way first. A likely reason why you constantly leap from relationship to relationship is that you are probably not the type of person who desires any human connection on a deeper level. In other words, you may desire human interaction - but your nature isn't the type to sustain (or even want) such a thing. You may not even realize it.
We always hear that there is someone out there for everyone, but that is positively false. The expression fails to take into consideration the significant number of people who possess a few irreconcilable qualities that would make a relationship virtually impossible. Simply put, there are people out there who should never be in a romantic relationship of any sort with anyone.
In fact, the reason why these people become relationship junkies in the first place, is because their minds have been cultivated by a social norm to ubiquitously desire something that does not necessarily apply to them. Some people were just not made for relationships. Therefore, one has to determine who they are before they try to share themselves with someone else.
I'll cover those insoluble qualities in the next post on the subject:
Relationship Addiction (Part 2 of 2) — Why you shouldn't get married
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