Happy Friday! Here is Part II of the series. If you missed Part I, you can read it here.
#3: Consistency is important.
I once wasted years of my life waiting for a guy who ran hot for a month straight. He showered me with attention every day and told me he loved me. Then one day after dropping me off at my dorm he said he needed time alone and disappeared. I was very young and wish I knew better. But he never made a clean break and made sure to check in every few weeks or months, leading me on by telling me how even though we hardly saw each other he still felt close to me. I let him string me along for three years like this, with the “relationship” always on his terms, no emotional availability and little time together only to find out he had been running around with other women the entire time.
The guy was a train wreck who liked to control people, specifically women. His tool? Hope. I believe that seed to be the devil that brings every girl to her demise. Well, I don’t mean to sound so pessimistic but the point is this: until a guy can show you that he runs hot always, he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. Likewise, if you’re getting enough mixed signals to keep your friends puzzled for hours at your catch-up sessions, he’s a waste of your time. If your present is unsatisfactory or even miserable, and all you have to hope for is the future, you’re locking yourself into relationship purgatory.
#4: Remember the 80-20 Rule
The 80-20 rule states that relationships should be great about 80% of the time and suck no more than 20% of the time. If it sucks more than that, you should probably leave it. All relationships have their ups and downs, and I mean really crappy downs. But they should not occur on a weekly or biweekly basis for months on end. It’s not healthy, it’s dysfunctional and it will erode your integrity.
I know someone close to me who is in a very bad relationship. She is married to a man who has severe anxiety and anger management issues. Every 2-3 days for the now 6 years that they’ve been married, he will blow up at her about something random: the way she walks, or shops for Christmas trees, etc. He’s controlling, won’t let her access her bank account, and she gets $100 a week for groceries. The only time she feels a sense of calm is when he’s away from the house and she can light some candles and meditate.
Why does she stay? Because she loves him, he always apologizes and she’s scared of disappointing her parents if she leaves. Sure, it’s probably more complicated than that but none of those are good reasons, especially when he has no interest in improving himself. The woman has no self-esteem, self-confidence or integrity and it is tragic. This relationship sucks 80% of the time and it’s never great more than 20% of the time. She has decided to be a martyr in this life but I hope none of you ever will.
#5: Keep moving forward.
To follow the previous tip, if something isn’t working for you, LEAVE! I know it sounds cold to treat relationships like business agreements, but the benefit is that it keeps you from getting stuck in something that isn’t working. Conflict is normal and will always arise in relationships because there will always be a limited number of resources (time, money, etc.) that need to be negotiated.
Sometimes, though, these conflicts reveal actual relationship deal breakers (he’s lazy, controlling, has a skewed perspective on reality, etc.). Whether or not you stay in the relationship depends on whether or not your partner is willing to work on his issues. Under these circumstances, it is best to set clear expectations with specific time frames. If he can keep his end of the bargain or as close to it as possible, then he’s worth further investment of your time. But if he cannot meet them when he knows he’s under the spotlight, he’ll be even less likely to do so when he’s not. If you stay, you’ll end up stuck in a relationship that isn’t meeting your needs and you’ll be settling. Move on with your lessons learned and find someone who better meets your needs.