Flickr Photo by Steph Lee
Flickr Photo by Steph Lee


Do you ever feel like your relationship is stuck going round and round in circles?

This is part four of my series on The Art of Relationship Deal Breakers.  In my last post, I gave ten clear examples of deal breakers and when to work on them or walk away.

So now you know what a deal breaker is. You have identified what the deal breaker is in your relationship and defined it to your partner.

Then you took a step back and waited.

You did not attempt to fix the problem for your partner.  You waited for your partner to return to you with a solution.

But what happens if your partner promises you that she will change but there are no significant improvements?

It’s a common problem.  Sometimes our relationship deal breakers are very clear.  For example, you need a commitment but your partner has never promised you anything.

But sometimes, the deal breaker can be hard to spot.  Often, our partner may put up a farce of making a deal to change but lacks follow through.  She will get on and off this horse repeatedly, always falling but continuing to create an illusion that she is still holding on to the promise of working on the deal breaker.

When this happens, confusion can set in.  You know what you need to do to improve your relationship but the vicious cycle that you’re in makes things blurry.  You always feel like you’re just on the edge of reaching a break-through but it never happens.

The vicious cycle in your relationship occurs when you and your partner want different things, when your partner refuses to change and you refuse to face what’s really going on in your relationship.

Too many times, I’ve heard girlfriends complain about their partners and get bogged down in the details when the truth is that they were either not aware of or could not face their own fears of seeking proper solutions.

Maybe you are living a script that others wrote for you early in life.  Particularly for desi women, we are raised from a young age to believe that our reason for being is to make our husbands happy.  We are considered second-class citizens at best, property at worst.  The concepts of self-worth and putting our needs first are seeds that may never be planted in our minds.

Do me a favor – write the following sentence on a note card and read it to yourself at least once a day, preferably more:

Your needs, your desires and your dreams are just as important and valuable as those of any man.

You won’t be able to truly have the life you deserve unless you believe that.

Maybe you’ll lose your partner or she’ll fall apart.  Maybe your parents and religious leaders will be furious with you.  I’m sorry but you can’t control other people or how they react.

“Loss can be negotiated and reputations can be repaired.  But a life can never be relived…” – Bethany Marshall

6 Signs of a Vicious Cycle

Because it’s so common and dangerous for your relationship to get stuck repeating the same useless pattern, I want to raise awareness on what being in a vicious cycle can look like.  These are from Dr. Bethany Marshall’s book, Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away:

  1. Your life is passing you by and you keep waiting for things to get better but on important occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, you’re reminded that nothing has changed.
  2. You are more concerned about the future than the present because the future seems hopeful and your present seems miserable. You dread thinking about the present because it forces you to make a decision.
  3. You are more committed to your partner’s potential than to the reality of who he is.
  4. Your partner may be willing to talk about the problem but makes it clear that she prefers things the way they are. For example, she may be willing to talk about getting married but insists that she’s not the marrying type.
  5. You keep fighting the same fight without change and are eventually pushed into reactions that are out of character for you. Maybe you resort to screaming at your partner when you have never sunk that low before.
  6. Your partner appears to reach for solutions but they are all the wrong solutions. They miss the mark but his gestures appear solid.  Unfortunately, they never fully transform into meeting your needs.

Bottom Line:

The only way to get out of a vicious cycle is to start making different choices and decisions.  If your partner were truly committed to change then you would see signs of steady progress, not the same disappointing behavior over and over again.

Stay tuned for the next post in the series.  If your partner is genuinely willing to change, I’ll explain how to make and negotiate a deal.

Resource: Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Dr. Bethany Marshall

This post is part four of my series on The Art of Relationship Deal Breakers.  You can read the first post here.  To get the full series, watch for future posts on A Desi New Yorker.

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