Relationship Feel Stale? Look in the Mirror
The biggest lie we’re told about relationships is that having one will make your life complete. This ruins us when we’re single because it turns our natural longing for companionship into a nagging black hole that sucks in every other positive aspect of our lives. Who cares if you have a great job, supportive family, and close friends? You’re still single…which means you have nothing.
But this lie that a relationship equals completeness is perhaps more damaging for people in relationships. If a relationship is supposed to satisfy your every need, then what does it mean when you’re in a relationship and you’re not feeling satisfied? Can that be the result of a bad relationship? Absolutely. But can it also be the result of something other than your relationship? You bet.
The truth is, if you’re bored with yourself, you’re going to be bored with your relationship too. It’s your responsibility to keep your life exciting and dynamic—not your partner’s. If you keep evolving, then your relationship will keep evolving as well. If you’re stagnant, your relationship will feel the same way.
You have to own your happiness. That means that if you’re unhappy, instead of blaming your partner, take a hard look inward and be brave enough to actually feel your feelings. Are you really happy with your career—or did you just choose that path because it’s what your parents wanted for you? Do you have meaningful relationships with your friends—or are they simply surface level interactions? Have you found something that you’re truly passionate about—or are your days monotonous? The answers to these questions might surprise you.
I know that instead of doing all this inward digging it’s a hell of a lot easier to just blame your relationship. After all, you felt satisfied when the relationship began, so why aren’t you satisfied now? Well here is the nasty trick of falling in love—in the sentiment of Ke$ha—it’s a drug. The excitement of a new relationship lights up the pleasure centers in your brain just like heroin or cocaine. And also like an illegal substance, it allows you to ignore some parts of your life that might not be so great. But it’s a temporary fix, and as the excitement wears off, you’re left with the same issues you had before the relationship began. Falling in love isn’t the cure-all.
This isn’t just my opinion; studies back this up. A recently released report examined hundreds of spouses in unhappy marriages. Five years after the initial interview, they re-interviewed the participants and some had divorced, some had stayed married, and some had divorced and then re-married. The unhappily married individuals who divorced were no happier five years later than those who stayed married. And two out of three of those who were unhappily married at first and then stayed married reported being happy in their marriages five years later. The point: your unhappiness may be stemming from you, not your partner, and leaving or changing your partner won’t necessarily solve your problems.
At the end of the day, a certain amount of unhappiness is just part of the human condition. It’s probably an indication that things in your life need to change, but it may not be an indication that what needs changing is your romantic relationship.