My Relationship Sucks!

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

It’s the beginning. You’re all euphoric. You believe it will always be like this, your eyes his eyes or her eyes, sprinkled with magic pixie dust, and they can do no wrong, and you can do no wrong, because you finally did it…you found the one!! Not like the last time, when you only thought you found the one, but then everything fell apart, so they mustn’t have been the one.But wait a second. Isn’t that how they all begin? Isn’t that how they all end?

I’ve been in a few long-term relationships, and I can tell you that in the beginning, I thought just about all of them were the one. Until “one day” they weren’t. They were (almost) all really wonderful people. We had a few things in common. Sometimes the attraction to one another waned due to problems in the relationship, sometimes the fire was there right through the bittersweet (sometimes, just plain bitter) end. Had I just gotten over the fact that we had some gaping fundamental differences in our core beings, I think I could have been mildly content for many years with a couple of those people. So, what went wrong?

Truth be told, the common denominator in all of my relationships is me. When there was something wrong in my relationships, I had something to do with it. I hate to break it to you, but if you think your relationship sucks, then you probably have something do with that, too. (And probably more than you think.)

Wait. What?! No, seriously. It’s you. Just hear me out.

Below are some things that people commonly say constitutes a good relationship. You’ll find my definition next to each, which might vary from the norm, based on what I’ve learned from my mistakes and triumphs:

  • Communication— Communication is key. Wait. Not just communication. Effective communication. Two-way communication. Not just one person saying, “Hey, I wasn’t home for dinner tonight. Sorry.” Karen over at Square Peg Reflections knows what I’m talking about.
  • Love— Not the kind of blind love that got you into the relationship, but the kind of fierce love for yourself that will get you out of it if it’s not the right place for you. This means compassion and acceptance of who you are and who they are. You will not change them, so love them—love you and let go, if you need to.
  • Trust— Of yourself. Of your gut. To know when something seems off. To know when you’re not feeling it, and to trust that feeling enough to not even get started to begin with. And when something seems off, love yourself enough to address it.
  • Respect— Treat your partner, your spouse, your lover, your significant other not the way you want to be treated, but the way they want to be treated. Get to know their wants, their needs, and then respect them enough to either give them what they need, or bow out because you know you either cannot or are not willing to give them what they need.
  • Support— When times are rough (Hello, economy, are you there? It’s me, Margaret…) we all want to feel like we have someone on our side. Someone who believes in us when we don’t believe in ourselves. The kind of support that says, “I want this for us because I see how important it is to you…”. Which isn’t always easy to give. But a good relationship isn’t meant to be easy; it’s meant to be worth it.
  • Intimacy— I’m not talking about sexy time. (Although you want to make sure there’s plenty of that, too). I’m talking about an intimate connection. Talk about your dreams, your desires, your fears, your secrets, your past, your future, your present. Share the depths of your soul with the person you’re in a relationship with. It makes the sexy time a whole lot more fun, in my experience.
  • Patience— It’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves, and forget that sometimes things go wrong. Not everything is going to go right. No one is perfect, not your partner, not even you. Patience is that deep breath (or series of deep breaths) that get you to regain your composure and approach the situation with a clear, compassionate head and heart. This is essential to a functional relationship.
  • Things in Common— Everyone knows that opposites attract. But then what do you talk about when you’re knee deep in the relationship, nothing’s going right on the outside, and you have nothing in common to bridge the gaps? Nothing. You’ve got to have some common ground—substantial common ground—in order to relate to one another and see perspectives effectively. I’m not saying you won’t find opposites who have wonderful relationships. But find one of them and ask them how much work they put into it to make it good (read: worth it).

Look, people have written books on relationships and how to make them work. Experts, even. I’m no expert on all of you, I’m only an expert on me. I don’t believe in rules for snagging the perfect him or her. I believe in you being you, and finding the best match for you, and not settling for some schmo who doesn’t deserve you. (Or some schmo settling for you, which neither of you deserve). I can’t get the low-down on how to have a “good relationship” from a book or a magazine or a blog. And despite what I’ve written here, neither can you. I can give you tips that work for me, but when it comes down to the actual relationship, there’s some work to get busy with.

Like I said, I’m no expert on you…so you tell me, what constitutes a good relationship for you?

Photo used under Creative Commons License: / CC BY 2.0

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whollyjeanne February.3.2010 at 4.16 pm

well, you sure sound like an expert. excellent post, my friend. sizzle and steak, too.

Emma Alvarez Gibson February.3.2010 at 4.44 pm

Yes, yes, and yes. I'm the first person to say that anything involving two humans is bound to be complicated, but we make it so much more so by not owning up to our responsibilities. And so many of us (I have been guilty of it many times) behave as though we have to wait until the mood strikes to love people. Love is a choice, respect is critical and acknowledging that we, as you so astutely put it, are the common denominators in our relationships–these concepts are potentially earth-shattering. Well done.

Dian Reid February.3.2010 at 7.43 pm

Thank you, Emma. So true about waiting for the mood to strike us to love people…an anecdote from an english professor: a therapist asks his patient, 'why don't you love your wife?' and the man responds. The therapist stops the man and says, 'No. Love, as a verb…why don't you LOVE your wife, and see how that goes.” Brilliant. Thanks for commenting =)

Dian Reid February.3.2010 at 7.51 pm

Thanks Julie =) You always make me smile!

emma February.4.2010 at 12.00 am

I so wish I could answer this question with any authority whatsoever. The truth is, I avoid relationships (the romantic ones) at all costs. Maybe once I stop putting the blame on guys for all the problems of the universe before the bill arrives on a first date, I'll get to the rest…

I exaggerate only slightly.

Love the post.

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