*I wrote this for a client last year. I don’t know if I still have the ownership to this piece, but I know I still have the rights to claim the heart behind the work and to relinquish it forever. I never want to be there, ever again, and I know I never will :)*
You are at a crossroads: Two choices lie before you and you are contemplating your next step. You are unsure of what you want and feel confused. You are not naïve about the challenges that are inherent in any relationship and you know that relationships take effort. Yet, there is a small voice, a lingering feeling inside you that will not quit. Your decision is not straightforward as your current girlfriend/boyfriend is a good choice, but there is something missing, which has been making you eye another individual. How do you know if a relationship is not right for both of you? This question is not easy, but below we introduce five preliminary questions to ask yourself to help your self-reflection:
Question 1: What is the most important to you in your relationship?
Identify your exact needs and current wants at this very stage in your life. List the qualities and characteristics you fancy most in a partner and focus on them. If you desire and value sincerity, modesty, humour, intelligence, and physical attraction, then let those be your guide to selecting and pursuing a potential mate. Also, your ideal mate should be your partner in all aspects of your life and should be able to support you in each of these areas. If you find that she/he is unable to share your life and become fully integrated, forcing you to seek comfort elsewhere in any aspect of your life – be it professional or personal – then it would be unfair to continue the relationship for the sake of maintaining artificial happiness.
Question 2: Are you following your heart?
We all have hidden desires and ideals of what we want in an ideal partner, but factors such as fear and low self-esteem will lead us to suppress and ignore them. When we find ourselves strangely attracted to someone whom we usually do not fall for, we often tell ourselves that we should stay away, which can lead us to miss out on some of the best experiences in life. The most telling sign that you are not following your heart is when you find yourself drawn to an individual other than your current girl/boyfriend. If you are 100% secure with your current choice, you would never find yourself suppressing feelings for another individual and engaging in compensatory behaviors such as spending more time with your girl/boyfriend to distract yourself or avoiding the individual to whom you are attracted. For most, it is easier to live in denial than actually face their true yearnings; we tell ourselves that we are happy with what we have and pretend we are completely satisfied. Take a look inside your heart and ask yourself what kind of partner you want, and if the answer does not intimate you then she/he is not worth it. Your dream partner should both excite and scare you as she/he will challenge you to step out of your comfort zone to arrive at a whole new level of being that will mature your relationship perspectives.
Question 3: Are you able to grow with/learn from your partner?
Life, with its myriad of responsibilities and choices, will pull a couple apart. In order for a relationship to withstand the test of time, a couple needs to be compatible and to be similar in their life stages. For example, if you are a young professional at a transitional stage in your life with long-term aspirations and your girl/boyfriend is still more of a sensation-seeker who does not share your life goals, in the long run it will not work out. In a relationship, your strengths and weaknesses should balance each other out. For instance, you are uncertain in your life choices and are more relaxed, while your partner is more settled and focused, but more uptight. In this scenario, your partner can help you become more focused in your life goals while, in turn, you can teach her/him to take a lighter approach to life. In this case, you are drawing strengths from each other and making the other better. The best relationship is one in which two individuals, despite ostensible differences, can balance each other out, learn from one another, and grow together.
Question 4: Are you still dating ‘safely’?
Are you seeing a girl/guy similar to your former lovers and whom you are now with after going through the same dating motion you have always been used to in the past (e.g. having sexual engagements before an exclusive relationship is established)? There is a reason why none of the past relationships worked out and now is the time to revamp your dating choices and patterns. If you find yourself repeatedly choosing similar mates, chances are in this current one you will end up in the same unsuccessful union before enduring a painful breakup that will leave you full of despair and unfulfilled questions. If so, it would be wise to step out of your comfort zone and choose someone who is completely different. When it comes to love, it is advisable to select not only with your heart, but your head as well. Take a chance and seek out a mate who challenges and goes against your dating conventions. In love, those who go bold reap the greatest rewards.
Question 5: Are you letting your analytical side get in the way?
When you attempt to follow your heart, do you find a part of you raising red flags all over? This fear stems from the ego, which will attempt to thwart you by trying to convince you to continue dating your usual girl/guy and to remain on the well-trodden path that leads to nowhere (according to your past dating history). Your heart may be calling you to follow an unconventional path: It may be scary, difficult, and involves taking risks, but that is the price to pay in order to find our inner fulfilment. It will mean facing your fears and doing something completely different that should petrify and excite you at the same time. It will mean listening to your inner, authentic voice and discover a happiness never known to you before had you not taken a novel road.
These questions may help you in your self-introspection to a better relationship and aid in your selection of the right romantic partner but are by no means exhaustive. If you find yourself unable to reconcile the inner conflicts you have about your relationship, then it may be advisable to seek professional help. However, ultimately, it is up to you and your partner to discover the meaning of this current crisis and to decide together what is the best for the relationship and for the both of you in the long run.