The Realtionship Issue: How long do you stay in a new relationship before pulling the plug?
Almost worse than being in a bad relationship is being in an okay relationship that’s enjoyable-enough but deep down you know this person is not the love of your life. How long do you give it before admitting that this is as good as it gets?
David has been waiting eight months for his girlfriend to show him that she adores him and wants to live the life of romance he envisions. He is over 40 and excited to find his life partner. Because she is Asian and he is not, she explains that her cultural upbringing affects how she displays affection and generally deals with her relationships. David is a considerate and compassionate guy, and he likes this girl, and so is willing to learn how to manage the cultural differences. But, it’s taking a long time. On top of it, the financial crisis has put much stress on her work life, so he wants to demonstrate his patience (one of his finer traits) and not rock the boat too hard by demanding that she let him know now what she wants from their relationship.
My response: What are you waiting for?
On the one hand, you are a king for exercising kindness, patience and consideration. This makes you a real catch in the eyes of many women. I say free yourself to find one of those women rather than wait any longer for your girlfriend to come around into seeing your gifts. After eight months together, she knows if she is or isn’t in love with you. Love overlooks cultural differences. What should be your most important consideration is whether you feel happy in your relationship. And, you don’t sound happy about this one.
Clearly, she likes being with you, evidenced by dating you exclusively for the past eight months. But I see that it’s one of two issues for her and neither is pretty. Either, she is not self-aware enough to know her true feelings for you and whether her cultural upbringing is or isn’t impacting them. Or, she is afraid to hurt your feelings, to let you down … to fail after all this time of trying.
Really, we know pretty quickly if we see long-term relationship potential with someone new. But after being single for a while, we like the idea of finally being in a relationship. And, if it’s not awful then maybe there will be greatness to it … somewhere down the road? Nope. I am convinced that, at the beginning, you should be hitting green lights down the relationship road. The occasional yellow is important so you two can catch a breather, get perspective on where you are headed, and then move forward if it feels good. But, often stopping the journey at the beginning to work through a bunch of red flags is never a good sign for a lasting relationship. In fact, I would say this is the biggest clue we get telling us to let go.
During our conversation, David noticed a pattern in his relationships. He said he usually finds himself waiting for his girlfriends to chart the course, to open up to his romanticism, to decide if they should be together for the long haul. He recognized that he deserves the romantic relationship he wants and he should not wait for his girlfriends to decide whether or not they accept his terms. Hopefully, he will honor his needs and won’t keep trying to fit the square pegs into the round hole. You cannot expect people to change. They rarely do. However, you can expect and control your happiness.
I know it’s hard to let go when it feels pretty good now. I fall victim to it, too. But, do you really want to trade a life of passion and love for “pretty good?” Do you want to look back and ask yourself why you wasted another eight months with the wrong person – when the clues were there from the beginning? We need to become better students and learn from the School of Relationship Hard Knocks. We need to remember that nothing is more important than that we feel good. What are we waiting for?
This post was transcribed from a conversation with a client of IntimiDating, a new call-in service brought to you by A Sound Match. IntimiDating is on-the-spot problem solving of troubling relationship issues that require an instant ally to listen and offer solutions to help you feel relieved and confident about your next move. All calls are received by Lynne, the founder of A Sound Match. More more info email Lynne.