|Posted by [email protected] on July 9, 2015 at 8:05 AM|
"How do I know if this relationship is right for me anymore?” Mary* asked.
“The fact that you’re even asking the question means that you probably already know the answer,” I responded.
We spent the rest of the hour going through the specific reasons why she was feeling unfulfilled. To the obvious question about whether she’d talked to her partner about her feelings, she told me that her girlfriend found it difficult to have discussions about emotional matters, which was just one more indication that these two were severely mismatched for long-term happiness since Mary deeply values deep emotional discussions. Don’t get me wrong, opposites often do attract, and usually for very good reasons. But if they don’t figure out how to appreciate how they complement each other, opposites can quickly become opponents, once the shiny wears off.
I also asked Mary to consider all the ways that her girlfriend is a good match, and to think about the things that drew her into this relationship. I asked her to weigh those against the negatives and the areas of perceived lack or mismatch. Which side is heavier? Do the positives outweigh the negatives? In an exploration like this, it’s important to note that there is no wrong answer here...what you’re doing is evaluating what’s best for yourself. And you will make the decision you need to make, even if it’s not one that I would make if I wore your shoes. If you decide to stay, there must be more for you to learn in this relationship or perhaps you’ve decided the negatives DON’T outweigh the positives.
Sometimes, all that’s needed is a listening ear and someone who’s not afraid to ask you the tough questions. Sometimes all we need is somebody who can point out patterns, or highlight where our words and actions are inconsistent. Some friends can do this, but a lot of times our friends are scared to hurt our feelings or they’re scared that if they are honest with us, the friendship could be damaged or ended. Enlisting the help of a professional ensures that the person you’re talking to has some skill in seeing patterns, has been trained in asking the right questions, does not have a personal stake in the outcome, and isn’t going to deflect the conversation to tell you all about themselves.
I’m not sure what Mary ultimately decided to do, whether to stay or leave that relationship. But the fact that I don’t know doesn’t really matter. I helped her to think through her situation and not simply react out of a place of heightened emotion. I enabled her to make the best possible decision for herself.
*Names and specific details changed to protect confidentiality.