If you’re in a difficult relationship and feeling torn about whether to gtfo or make it work, I can’t tell you what’s right for you. But I will tell you that if this is a pattern for you, leaving the person you’re with is unlikely to resolve the underlying problem.
How many times have you been in this same situation? With how many partners? Doesn’t it feel like you just keep finding yourself in the same relationship, over and over again?
Why you might consider staying
The thing is – there’s a lesson that’s trying to be learned by you, through your relationships. And it’s going to continue presenting itself until you see it for what it is, and learn what needs to be learned.
Another thing I can’t tell you is what it is that needs to be learned, or what will develop after you’ve learned it.
But I can tell you how to uncover the lesson.
Make a commitment to YOURSELF
The first step (assuming your physical or emotional well-being is not in danger) is shifting your perception of challenges from options to stay or go, to opportunities to grow.
Make a commitment to rise to every challenge by delving within. The answers lie within you, and this lesson is beckoning forth a strengthening in your relationship to yourself.
Our relationships with others mirror the relationship with ourselves. They are some of our greatest teachers, and they can be amazing tools for our personal healing and growth.
Although it’s often unpleasant, if we can ride out the storms that come up in our relationships, we can harvest a wealth of insights and learn how to properly love ourselves. From there, we can co-create more loving relationships.
Mind your attachment
Did you know that when you were a child, you developed an attachment style that was essentially either secure or insecure? And if insecure, either anxious or avoidant?
And did you know that anxious folks and avoidant folks tend to attract one another and then play out relentless cycles of push and pull? Perhaps you’ve experienced this…
People with insecure attachment styles have very challenging love-lives. They want very much to be loved but also distrust it when it’s presented.
Anxious partners get scared and move closer, while avoidants get scared and move away. Hence the merry-go-round.
Here’s what I’ve noticed though:
The prevailing advice basically encourages anxious types to leave their avoidant partners. They suggest that avoidants will never be consistent, that they will always perpetuate confusion, forever alternating between hot and cold.
It is also stated that the anxious types need to embrace their self-worth and go find the love they deserve with someone who deserves their love.
I have a slightly different perspective.
While I agree that anxious-attachment folks deserve the love they desire, I find that their anxiety generates interpretations of events that prevent them from experiencing the love that IS present.
I also believe that avoidants deserve the love they fear.
Become more secure
When a person with an insecure attachment style learns to embrace their worth and fortify their security from within, they can become strong enough to provide a stable base for their partner in a way that fosters a sense of trust and safety. (I have actually achieved this with my own partner, to great success.)
By committing to rising to the challenges that relationships will always present, you will grow like a weed! (In the good way.) You will also transform a difficult relationship into a loving one.
Take leaving off the table. You may both choose to part ways amicably, but you will be well-served to refrain from leaving in reaction to your triggers.
This will instill trust, which will stabilize the relationship.
When you offer total acceptance to both of you – no longer seeking to change yourself or your partner, but leaving room for each of you to be who you truly are – you will foster true love.
Do the work – for YOU
If you’re in one of these unfulfilling cycles, with one difficult relationship after another, you’ve got a lot of inner-work to do. (I speak from experience.)
Now, I know I just encouraged you to stop trying to change yourself, but inner-work is not about changing who you are, it’s about learning to embrace who you are.
You CAN have the love you desire, and it is quite likely already closer than you think.
If you truly love your partner but are just frustrated by the confusion and inconsistency, try practicing the love you deserve – on both of you.
(Updated March 19, 2021)