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How do you know when a relationship is worth keeping?

tctc Posts: 986Registered Users
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  • SystemSystem Posts: 39,059 Administrator
    Sometimes communication between the sexes is like running into a brickwall. I have to repeat things several times and my husband still asks why I didn't tell him about something when it comes up. :disgust: But you should be able to talk to things like your feelings. Some guys get overloaded sometimes with the flood of emotions - they think in basic terms - "whatifs and so and so saids" fly right over their heads.:geek:

    You have to decide what you ultimately want of this relationship. Can you achieve that together or will it always be like it is right now? Is it more good than bad? Answer that and you'll know what is the right thing to do. Can you live without him? Yes, anyone can. But do you want to?
  • LoloDSMLoloDSM Posts: 3,778Registered Users
    I hate to cop out and use a Dear Abby saying, but she always said to ask yourself if you're better off with or without him.
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  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users
    Well, poor conflict resolution and communication issues doomed my engagement, so right now, I think they're a very big deal. It also sounds like you have life goal differences.

    I think many male/female areas of confusion can be resolved if the parties are willing, but what it sounds like you're asking is, "Is it worth it with this partner?" Consider how long you've been feeling this way --- is it a recent issue, or an ongoing one (which your reference to couples' counseling would seem to indicate)?

    I wish I had concrete advice for you. The thing about the Dear Abby decider (no offense, Lolo) is that it's possible to be better off in some ways, and worse off in others. Ultimately, you have to decide if the ways in which you're worse off are worth it in exchange for the ways in which you're better off.

    HTH, and best wishes. I hope things work out well for you. :)
  • tctc Posts: 986Registered Users
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  • luvmylocsluvmylocs Posts: 7,578Registered Users
    you raise a lot of interesting questions. first off let me say i'm sorry you're going through this. whatever you decide i'm sure it's going to be tough....

    so you mentioned misaligned communication. i would say it's probably largely normal but if it's frustrating both of you then it's a problem. have you considered going to counseling again to get an outside perspective? plus a new counselor might give you some suggestions on things you two could do to meet in the middle. also sometimes counseling will uncover the root cause of the issues which could help both of you understand the others perspective a bit more. is it worth another try?

    now empathy doesn't = communication and vice versa. i don't know if i ever thought much about empathy until my last situation now i feel like some measure of empathy is essential for me in a relationship if it's going to work. of course some people are naturally more empathetic than others but empathy is important in relationships. do you feel like the only way he's not empathetic is about the communication issue or does this present itself in other ways too?

    ultimately i don't think a love relationship is supposed to fulfill our every human need. that's why we have other friends, family and connections BUT your relationship should provide you with a level of comfort and security and companionship that is unparalled if that makes sense. can you envision this man not being in your life? what if he were with someone else would you be okay? can you see yourself with someone else?

    sorry more questions than answers...
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  • SystemSystem Posts: 39,059 Administrator
    tmmy_cat wrote: »
    ninja dog wrote: »
    I think many male/female areas of confusion can be resolved if the parties are willing, but what it sounds like you're asking is, "Is it worth it with this partner?" Consider how long you've been feeling this way --- is it a recent issue, or an ongoing one (which your reference to couples' counseling would seem to indicate)?

    definitely an ongoing one and one that we have made many attempts to fix. I guess I'm just wondering how to tell if I should keep trying more.

    speckla, that is an interesting question about what I would want from this relationship. I think what I want most is companionship (which we have) and empathy (which we don't have). But then I start to wonder: isn't it unrealistic to expect one person to be everything to me - especially if most men out there aren't empathetic? I wonder if I should be looking for empathy in my other relationships, like girl friends and family, and assume that I probably won't get any empathy from a man.

    It isn't humanly possible to be someone's all. There are things that I discuss with my sister because she's a female and understands on a level that my husband would not. I don't expect him to understand but he does listen to me when I need to talk about my feelings. We have different hobbies and interests but our main time is spent together. Do you enjoy his company? Can you easily talk or is he sensitive and takes things too personally?

    Yes, you should know what you want. Do you want children, marriage, or something else in the longrun? A relationship isn't ever going to be perfect but there should be more happy times than not over the course of time. You've said you tried counselling already. That's really early in a relationship for counselling.

    You have to be able to talk - it's a two-way street and be able to reverberate that you understand what they other person wants. You then move forward if you can work it out together.
  • LoloDSMLoloDSM Posts: 3,778Registered Users
    ninja dog wrote: »
    Well, poor conflict resolution and communication issues doomed my engagement, so right now, I think they're a very big deal. It also sounds like you have life goal differences.

    I think many male/female areas of confusion can be resolved if the parties are willing, but what it sounds like you're asking is, "Is it worth it with this partner?" Consider how long you've been feeling this way --- is it a recent issue, or an ongoing one (which your reference to couples' counseling would seem to indicate)?

    I wish I had concrete advice for you. The thing about the Dear Abby decider (no offense, Lolo) is that it's possible to be better off in some ways, and worse off in others. Ultimately, you have to decide if the ways in which you're worse off are worth it in exchange for the ways in which you're better off.

    HTH, and best wishes. I hope things work out well for you. :)

    I totally agree, so no offense. What would be intolerable to one person would be fine to another. It's up to the people involved to decide if the compromises you have to make in order to be together are worth it.
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  • subbrocksubbrock Posts: 8,212Registered Users
    in the words of the wise and wonderful dr. phil, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. if you guys are still having the same problems even after having counseling, chances are youre going to continue having those problems. its up to you to decide if you can continue on dealing with these issues.

    best of luck to you.
  • LotsawavesLotsawaves Posts: 8,660Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    If you are happy with him & feel you can be yourself, then it's a relationship worth keeping. If you have problems with who he is (differs from what you feel is important) then I would say it won't work. You may like him as a person, but if you can't enjoy life together, then it may not be worth it. A big part of being with someone is enjoying life together.
    From Michael Berg:

    Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."
  • NetGNetG Posts: 8,116Registered Users
    I think if it were worth it to you to stay w/ him, you wouldn't be asking us...


    It's worth it, as long as both people think it is. But you sound like you don't think so. I think subbrock is right, too. Doesn't sound like anything's changing... so you have to decide to yourself, is it worth it?
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  • tctc Posts: 986Registered Users
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  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users
    That does sound like progress, tmmy; and I can tell you, I've been in things where there was NO progress, so I recognize it when I "see" it. Sounds like it will be okay.:happy4:
  • tctc Posts: 986Registered Users
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  • JosephineJosephine Posts: 14,175Registered Users
    subbrock wrote: »
    in the words of the wise and wonderful dr. phil, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. if you guys are still having the same problems even after having counseling, chances are youre going to continue having those problems. its up to you to decide if you can continue on dealing with these issues.

    best of luck to you.


    ITA. Also, I don't think most men communicate that way.
  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users
    Well, I'm a writer, and I had a lot of what you described with my ex-husband. But we still drove each other nuts. So...just be careful not to romanticize "empathy."
  • JosephineJosephine Posts: 14,175Registered Users
    tmmy_cat wrote: »
    I dug up this old thread because I've been thinking about this more and more the past few weeks. I still feel like I'm missing something important in my relationship and it bothers me - because how on earth do you break up with someone who hasn't done anything wrong?

    I find myself almost fishing for reasons that would make sense to break up with him - kids? Dogs? Travel? But the only thing that even bothers me is the lack of empathy.

    I'm not dreaming this up, am I? Empathy does exist. I've met people who can see the posture of my neck out of the corner of their eye and just based on that, know exactly what I'm feeling. I'm drawn to people who understand body language and who notice tiny things about the world. I'm drawn to people who already understand the appeal of walking alone in the rain and I don't have to explain why I like it because they already know. I'm drawn to people who hear my voice catch on the second word and they tell me to stop talking, because they already know. Artists, writers seem to have this more often than other people.

    I feel like my relationship is incomplete without it.

    I don't know how to tell him.

    I can't expect him to change. He's a wonderful, independent, intelligent, logical, loving, thoughtful person. Just not empathetic.

    I know it's hard. I had a similar situation breaking up with my ex. But that's a very good reason. Honestly I think it's very inconsiderate for him to shut you out when you need to talk about things. I dated a guy for 2 months like that and couldnt take it anymore.
  • newcurlynewcurly Posts: 1,310Registered Users
    tmmy_cat wrote: »
    I dug up this old thread because I've been thinking about this more and more the past few weeks. I still feel like I'm missing something important in my relationship and it bothers me - because how on earth do you break up with someone who hasn't done anything wrong?

    I find myself almost fishing for reasons that would make sense to break up with him - kids? Dogs? Travel? But the only thing that even bothers me is the lack of empathy.

    I'm not dreaming this up, am I? Empathy does exist. I've met people who can see the posture of my neck out of the corner of their eye and just based on that, know exactly what I'm feeling. I'm drawn to people who understand body language and who notice tiny things about the world. I'm drawn to people who already understand the appeal of walking alone in the rain and I don't have to explain why I like it because they already know. I'm drawn to people who hear my voice catch on the second word and they tell me to stop talking, because they already know. Artists, writers seem to have this more often than other people.

    I feel like my relationship is incomplete without it.

    I don't know how to tell him.

    I can't expect him to change. He's a wonderful, independent, intelligent, logical, loving, thoughtful person. Just not empathetic.

    Yes, it does exist. My ex could hear my day in my voice the moment I answered the phone. That man could read me like a book, and I him. In fact, I knew when we were together 2 years ago that he would end up choosing the same field of medicine I am going into, but at the time he was enamored of an entirely different field. I never told him, but he did end up choosing the field I thought he would. I find myself looking for the same connection in every single relationship since (haven't found it).
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  • LotsawavesLotsawaves Posts: 8,660Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    NetG wrote: »
    I think if it were worth it to you to stay w/ him, you wouldn't be asking us...


    It's worth it, as long as both people think it is. But you sound like you don't think so. I think subbrock is right, too. Doesn't sound like anything's changing... so you have to decide to yourself, is it worth it?

    ITA....I wouldn't be in a relationship that I wondered if it was worth it. If I didn't know for sure, I'd be out of there.
    From Michael Berg:

    Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."
  • MichelleBFTMichelleBFT Posts: 4,812Registered Users
    I don't think it's fair to characterize men as generally lacking in empathy. It's easy for me to say because I'm married and my husband possesses this particular trait, but all of my close male friends have this trait as well, and as much as I love my husband and friends, I don't think they're that unusual a sampling of men in general (except for that they have the good taste to be friends with me, of course).

    My instinct would be that you need more from a mate than this man can give-- not because he doesn't love you enough, but because you're just not compatible on the level that you seem to want. Obviously neither of you are bad people, but I think in the long run you'll both feel like you should have tried for more, for a better connection.

    How do you break up with someone that hasn't done anything wrong? I wish it happened more often. Relationships aren't just a matter of two people who can manage not to piss each other off, it's more than that and I wish more people would realize that. I would explain to him that you love him, but in the long run you don't think you're compatible and that you both deserve a chance at finding a better fit.

    I hope it all works out for you.
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  • Dancing QueenDancing Queen Posts: 247Registered Users
    tmmy_cat wrote: »
    I've met people who can see the posture of my neck out of the corner of their eye and just based on that, know exactly what I'm feeling. I'm drawn to people who understand body language and who notice tiny things about the world. I'm drawn to people who already understand the appeal of walking alone in the rain and I don't have to explain why I like it because they already know. I'm drawn to people who hear my voice catch on the second word and they tell me to stop talking, because they already know. Artists, writers seem to have this more often than other people.

    I feel like my relationship is incomplete without it.

    So you want a mind-reader?

    It sounds like you want someone you don't have to communicate with, someone who already knows what you're thinking/feeling. If that is your expectation, I think you will be disappointed in any relationship you ever have.

    I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but I'd hate for you to throw away something good in the hope of a "better" that does not exist.
    Psalm 30:11 "You have turned my mourning into dancing."

    ''Hey, nerds! Who's got two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn't cried once today? This moi.'' - Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
  • MunchyMunchy Posts: 5,206Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I don't think it's fair to characterize men as generally lacking in empathy. It's easy for me to say because I'm married and my husband possesses this particular trait, but all of my close male friends have this trait as well, and as much as I love my husband and friends, I don't think they're that unusual a sampling of men in general (except for that they have the good taste to be friends with me, of course).

    My instinct would be that you need more from a mate than this man can give-- not because he doesn't love you enough, but because you're just not compatible on the level that you seem to want. Obviously neither of you are bad people, but I think in the long run you'll both feel like you should have tried for more, for a better connection.

    How do you break up with someone that hasn't done anything wrong? I wish it happened more often. Relationships aren't just a matter of two people who can manage not to piss each other off, it's more than that and I wish more people would realize that. I would explain to him that you love him, but in the long run you don't think you're compatible and that you both deserve a chance at finding a better fit.

    I hope it all works out for you.

    ITA. I have broken up with someone who did nothing wrong except be a bad match for me. It was hard, he became upset and somewhat violent. He also called me "cold-hearted" and repeatedly tried to get me to come back. I think it was probably because it was sudden and after 3 years of a relationship. Honestly, I went away for a weekend and had a great time on my own. I was also looking at a doctorate program, met a bunch of people, and realized that I could do things by myself better than with him. In the end, I did what I had to do in order to move on. It faded, he faded, and we were both better off without each other.
  • SleighSleigh Posts: 1,226Registered Users
    tmmy_cat wrote: »
    I've met people who can see the posture of my neck out of the corner of their eye and just based on that, know exactly what I'm feeling. I'm drawn to people who understand body language and who notice tiny things about the world. I'm drawn to people who already understand the appeal of walking alone in the rain and I don't have to explain why I like it because they already know. I'm drawn to people who hear my voice catch on the second word and they tell me to stop talking, because they already know. Artists, writers seem to have this more often than other people.

    I feel like my relationship is incomplete without it.

    So you want a mind-reader?

    It sounds like you want someone you don't have to communicate with, someone who already knows what you're thinking/feeling. If that is your expectation, I think you will be disappointed in any relationship you ever have.

    I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but I'd hate for you to throw away something good in the hope of a "better" that does not exist.

    people that *get* you that well either have known you for a long time or are highly manipulative and are good at reading people.

    honestly? it sounds like you're just unhappy in general.
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  • tctc Posts: 986Registered Users
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  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    Do you love him?
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  • tctc Posts: 986Registered Users
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  • Dancing QueenDancing Queen Posts: 247Registered Users
    tmmy_cat wrote: »
    So I told him: next time I am crying, I really need you to come and find me, hug me, and you don't need to say anything but if you do I need it to be in a gentle voice, something vague and non-judgmental and appeasing like "I understand" or "it'll be ok" or even just some of the silly nicknames you make for me ... that's what I need. I think he freezes up because he doesn't know what to do in that moment, so I told him exactly what I had in mind ... very specific.

    My husband is like that too, he just freezes up when any kind of conflict or crying is on the horizon. Any advice I can offer on the subject is something I learned the hard way. :D

    I think that "he'll just know" is one of the romantic myths in our culture that creates unrealistic expectations and sets relationships up for failure. Both of you will need to go outside your comfort zone to establish better communication. However, if you're willing to tell him what you need and he's willing to listen and try to do what you say, I think you'll find the relationship better for it.

    Good for you for taking the first step!
    Psalm 30:11 "You have turned my mourning into dancing."

    ''Hey, nerds! Who's got two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn't cried once today? This moi.'' - Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
  • rainshowerrainshower Posts: 4,420Registered Users
    tmmy_cat wrote: »
    Just wondering if anyone out there has any tips about whether or not this relationship is worth keeping.

    We've been together 4 years, no kids ... we get along well and enjoy each other's company 80-90% of the time, but when the occasional conflict comes up, he just doesn't want to talk at all - which is completely at odds with my communication style. I've told him many times that I need conflicts to be resolved openly and honestly - we even went to therapy over it a few years ago - tried my best to make it less frightening for him to talk about his feelings. I have a very gentle, non-aggressive communication style so I never understood why it was scary for him in the first place, but apparently it is scary for a lot of men so who knows.

    I'm really not sure how to tell if this relationship is worth keeping. There are other little things too, but none of them serious enough on their own to make a difference ... he wants dogs, I don't ... I want to travel and see the world, he's afraid of flying ... his sense of humor overlaps with mine only rarely ...

    We love each other a lot and both would make huge sacrifices for each other, but we can't seem to get past that sticking point - my communication style frustrates and confuses him - and his communication style frustrates and confuses me.

    I'm just not sure any more. Isn't this communication issue common to 99% of men? If we move on and the next person in my life also has trouble talking about things, I would feel like it was a bad decision to move on.

    to me your "little" things would be on my list of dealbreakers right up there with, for example, him not wanting kids, when i want to be a mother one day.

    i guess a way to answer your question is this: he's an animal (dog) lover; you aren't. he's a homebody/won't travel due to phobia; you want to see the world. your idea of humor is seldom aligned. when you look at what is left, is there enough that you two have in common that can keep the foundation of your relationship strong so that you can continue to build upon it? if not, maybe the communication/conflict resolution thing is the least of your worries.

    what i mean by that is, what's the point of resolving your communication skills during arguments when on a more basic level, you two have little in common.

    could it be that all the "little" stuff that you don't have in common is the source of all your conflicts and related communication issues?
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  • wild~hairwild~hair Posts: 9,890Registered Users
    I was in a situation sort of like this. Nothing was horribly wrong, but it wasn't really right either. Inertia is a powerful thing. So is loneliness.

    Eventually though, I hit some sort of tipping point and had to get out.
  • iaraiara Posts: 1,199Registered Users
    I always thought that if you have to ask that question, the relationship is not worth keeping.

    Many years ago I broke up with someone. Not because he was mean to me or did anything terribly wrong, but because I realized we wanted different things in life. Yes, it hurts if you do not have a "reason," but why drag it out when you and he can have the opportunity to be fully happy with someone? Life is too short.

    And it does not matter if there are "little" things because "little" things can add up to huge problem (sort of like a death by a thousands cuts). And like rainshower, your little things are deal breakers for me.

    Plus, going to therapy before you are married/committed would be a red flag to me.
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  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    iara wrote: »
    I always thought that if you have to ask that question, the relationship is not worth keeping.

    See, I disagree with that. Perhaps it's true, but the way I see it, it also means the person values the relationship enough to give it serious thought. Obviously there are enough good aspects to the relationship that the person doesn't just want to cut out and leave. S/he just needs thinking time.
    iara wrote: »
    Plus, going to therapy before you are married/committed would be a red flag to me.

    In a way I agree needing relationship counseling so early is not a good sign. But going to therapy in itself is an indicator there's some level of committment.
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