I recently read two articles with very different perspectives on relationships. The first article was about a woman who met her husband online only three weeks after she posted her profile. Whenever she told the story of how they met, people would ask what she wrote in her profile to attract the man of her dreams that quickly. She said it was simple. She wrote the truth. The truth about who she was and the type of relationship she wanted to find.
The basic message of the article was that if you are with the right person, love should be easy. It should feel natural, like it was meant to be. If you have to compromise too much, or work that hard to be compatible with someone, then you are probably not with the right person.
The other article had a very different perspective on how we date now, in the age of the internet. She talked about how with Facebook and other social media we are bombarded by images of other people’s lives. Their perfect moments. And how it gives us an unrealistic standard of what a relationship should be.
Instead of investing time in our relationships when things get hard, we abandon them because we know that another person is just a click away. Over time, we have gotten the impression that people are disposable, just like old cell phones. We don’t ever experience a relationship’s true potential because we always have one foot out the door.
As I struggle to sort out my relationship with my ex-boyfriend, I wonder which article is right. Is love a natural state of being that flows easily, or is it something that takes more effort? How can I know if my relationship is good enough?
It is rare that a person has no redeeming qualities, which is what makes it so difficult. My ex-boyfriend is smart, reliable and he can fix just about anything around the house. He knows unique places to wander and has taken me to see some of the most beautiful views and charming towns in the Midwest. He likes to hold hands when we walk and he gives the best hugs.
Yet, I am constantly seeking his approval. He doesn’t communicate his feelings about me, which often leaves me feeling empty. And he tends to be very judgmental and sets high expectations of himself and others. It is hard to be around all of that negativity.
It feels like I am living in two different relationships. There are times when everything seems to flow naturally and there are other times when it is a struggle just to decide where to go for breakfast.
I was talking with my ex-boyfriend this week and I told him about the articles. We talked a lot about how it seems that we both want the same things from a relationship and yet somehow we are not able to give them to each other.
“I have broken up with you so many times, but you have never broken up with me,” I said. “If you are not getting what you want out of this relationship, why don’t you just dump me and find someone better?”
"Is there anyone better?" he asked.
And there it was. The million dollar question.
Of course, my worst fear is that there isn't anything better out there. I have invested time and energy to get to know this person and he has done the same with me. I know that he would never leave me, but he also won't give me a reason to stay. And I don't want to be with someone who is only with me because he is not sure if there is anything better out there.
At the end of the day, everyone has to come up with their own idea of what is good enough. And mine is this. If you are constantly wondering if something is good enough, it probably isn't. If you are always trying to figure out whether someone makes you happy, they probably don't.