Dear Tory: Relationship troubles.
I'm having trouble in my relationship. I am dating the most fantastic man who loves me more than anything and treats me like a princess. However, we are different in every way possible. For example, he is a morning person, I am a night person. He is super driven and likes to do his own thing, I like to go with the flow and watch life unfold. He's very fast, I like to take my time. He's an introvert, I'm an extrovert. He likes to hike and be active, I prefer relaxing on the beach. He's a complete techie, and I would be happy never seeing another computer as long as I live. It just feels like we don't fit together the majority of the time.
We have been dating for years and these differences seem to be the source of any of our conflicts. Our problem is never that we don't love each other. With each conflict, we talk it out and both make compromises. But I'm just not sure if compromising forever is what I'm ready for.
The thing is, he's so perfect. There are sometimes when I could not imagine my life without him, but there are lots of times when I just wish he was more into what I'm into so not everything in life has to be a compromise that neither of us fully wants. I'm not sure it it's all in my head and frame of mind, or if we're just not made to be together forever.
Hi Relationship Troubles,
I want to preface what I am about to say with: relationships are our most influential, lifelong teachers. There's no other facet of our lives that is as actively morphing and needing adaptation as much as our relationships.
Every given moment you're growing and evolving-- you're using the input of the day, whether it be conversations, traumas, victories, stressors, actual research-- and you're applying it to your life and outlook. Based on how this input affects you, you become a slightly new, evolved version of yourself. The person you're in a relationship with is also constantly going through this process. They grow every minute of every day too. NOW, the challenge is to maintain 'the same relationship' with forever changing participants.
Each time you grow, your expectations, thoughts and actions change. Each time he grows, his expectations, thoughts and actions change too.
A guaranteed upset is to hope someone always aligns with your preferences. We have an innate need to be challenged, as it's the only way we learn. If you're comfortable 24/7, you'll never find a need to learn something new about yourself or your surroundings. Without challenges you're stagnant. Stagnant ponds smell weird and attract flies. When you're constantly pulled out of your comfort zone, challenged to interpret life moment to moment (instead of relying on a false sense of peace based on assumptions about someone 'just like you'), there's no way to be stagnant. Instead, you're a rushing river- forever changing, always moving forward, always colliding, influencing and being influenced.
Compromise sometimes. Other times, do your own thing. We put too much pressure on our partners to be our best friend, companion, therapist, hobby partner, inspiration, lover, etc. Cultivate other relationships in your life, either with hobbies, friends or with yourself. Be sexy with it, get flirty, let there be a romantic spark with the things you love (of course, keep it appropriate :).
So how do you know if he's challenging you in a way to help you grow or if these are just blatant red flags as to why you shouldn't be together?
Ask yourself this: What's keeping you together, love or fear?
Are you still together because you fear the idea of being without him? Are you still together because you fear not finding someone as kind and loving?
Are you still together because you love him, because his love invigorates you and pushes you to be a better person-- buuutttt, there's little list of things in the back of your mind that kind of stinks?
Take inventory next time you're together. Is he a nourishing meal or a snickers bar? Does his presence fuel you in a way that builds you up, challenges you to be braver, bigger, louder? Or does he make you feel good for a minute, just because having someone so lovely on paper is comforting, but then later you're drained and grouchy?
Toss logistics out the window. There's nothing logical about love. It's the best and the worst feeling in the world. You'll always be able to tell whether it's worth fighting through the 'worst feelings' if the 'best feelings' are just so good they make up for it. Or maybe stop fighting the worst feelings all together and ease into life, certain you're at least growing throughout the discomfort.
Putting love at the forefront of all of your decisions doesn't mean having to always say 'yes.' It means being present, taking an honest look at what would be best for you, and being brave enough to make it happen... even if it means being uncomfortable now and again.
Have a question? Email Tory at Tory@hotchickpea.com and your question may be posted.