It Started Out SO Great….

If you have ever thought to yourself or found yourself uttering these 5 simple words as the start to anything related to your relationship, then you’ve probably come to the point in your relationship where things aren’t so great anymore. 

Read on to find out:

1) If struggling in a relationship means that you need to leave it.

2) How to know when your relationship/partner is hurting you more than benefitting you.

3) Why breaking up can be the best thing you can ever do for yourself. 

Most people who are in a relationship will say that in the beginning, everything started out great.  The two of you were attracted to one another, had a “great time”, couldn’t get enough of one another, and your feelings were strong and fast to grow.  Who knows, maybe they were even so intense that at the time you started to wonder if love at first sight existed and this could finally be “the one”.  Regardless, you simply could not imagine that anything could come between the two of you because everything seemed so “perfect”. 

As with anything, even relationships that start off like this cannot continue with this level of intensity. However, the main problem with relationships that start off like this is that so many things about the other person are not yet known and are therefore overlooked or disregarded as really mattering in lieu of being swept up in the overwhelming intoxication of lust and emotions.  So, for instance, let’s say someone really took some time while they were single to think about what characteristics they wanted in a partner and why, and therefore determined that they would never date someone who did not have a college degree or higher.  Now, if this same person suddenly finds themselves completely head-over-heels infatuated with a man who dropped out of high school, for instance, they might just at that time say it doesn’t matter with him because he’s employed and they can really make it work because he’s “different”; this is really not such a “big deal” because everything else is “so right”. 

Fast forward some months.  While the physical attraction may or may not still be there, what typically happens is that the two of you have had more time getting to know one another and had more conversations.  You’ve had disagreements, even arguments.  But, you’re still together.  And, you find yourself thinking, “It started out so great, what happened?”  Or, you call up your girlfriend and say, “It started out so great, I am just waiting for us to get back there. I know that is how we “really are” and this is just a rough patch we have to get through”.  Only, this “rough patch” has been going on for some time and you haven’t had him look at you or treat you like the guy you first met in, well…months.  He seems to have disappeared and you’re holding on desperately to get “us” back.  You know he has it in him and what the two of you are capable of being like because you were there and experienced it. 

You may hang on afraid that if you leave, you’ll miss out on when it’s finally going to go back to the way it was. Or, maybe if you just try hard enough or say the right thing, or the two of you can just finally sit down and talk through that one issue, then everything will go back to “normal”, and you can be as happy as you were again. 

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that initial, intoxicating time is long gone and isn’t coming back.  It was fleeting and based on hormones and the excitement of being so insanely attracted to someone and the thrill of what “could be” with someone you just did not know.  As reality set in over time, and the two of you got to know one another beyond the surface level, you ended up in one of three places: 1) no longer together; 2) happily still together and working toward a future, or, unfortunately, somewhere you were not expecting: struggling.   

Struggling is one thing.  And, at that point, you need to decide if you want to stay or leave.  Working on a relationship does take two people and some discussion. But, how do you know if your relationship has gone from struggling and either worth working on or not to truly unhealthy and hurting you?

Struggling and deciding to continue to work on the relationship really is a matter of both people deciding together if that is what they want to do.  Every relationship struggles for different reasons and it truly is up to you to decide what you are willing to work on or not.  Are you struggling with issues that you feel you can work through like him not picking up his dirty clothes on the floor and you have a severe case of OCD? Or are you struggling with the fact that you are both madly in love with one another and can’t stand the thought of being apart, but one of you wants kids and the other does not? Issues like these where the two of you are in a relationship but are finding it a struggle to decide if you are compatible for the long-term for whatever reason can be very stressful, heart-breaking and difficult, as there tends to be a lot of good things keeping you together, but something just doesn’t seem quite “right”.  While not necessarily what you were hoping your relationship would be when it started out as “so great”, it is definitely not unhealthy or abusive. 

Unfortunately, women sometimes end up struggling in relationships for an entirely different reason. Whereas their relationships also start out “so great”, things turn unhealthy and abusive and they just don’t know it.  It is typically subtle and happens slowly over time. This is especially something to be aware of if the foundation of the relationship starts off based on sex and attraction above all else.  Then, over time, maybe you notice that he has stopped initiating sex as much, so you simply bring it up, and he’ll get angry and yell at you, after which you feel guilty for bringing it up and then apologize for doing so, sorry you upset him.  To which he responds with “well, just don’t do that again. But, you know it wouldn’t hurt if you maybe tried a little harder and dressed a little sexier”. Feeling now like you are the reason for why he does not initiate, you go right out and buy more sexy clothes.  And, maybe it gets better right after that.  But, not for long.  You may catch him watching porn or checking out other women when you are out.  So, you confront him. Which turns into a fight with him telling you to shut up and to stop feeling so insecure and controlling him. After which, you feel bad for upsetting him and again apologize, vowing to not be so controlling.  Which he follows up with telling you “Well, maybe if you stopped eating so much and lost some weight, I wouldn’t have to look at other women”. So, again, you feel bad about yourself and try to lose weight, thinking you’re not enough for him until you lose weight.  Once you do, things go back to how you were hoping, but then the tension builds again, and he does something else like not responding to your texts like he used to. So, you ask about it, and he explodes on you, and puts you down some more, telling you all sorts of horrible things. Then, the next time you see him, he’s all apologetic and tells you he loves you and that he should not have said any of those things and won’t do it again. Everything is great again..until the next fight. 

This “cycle” of him erupting with put downs and you feeling like you are not good enough, you apologizing, and then having to do “something” to please him or “fix” things to “make” him happy and/or get the relationship back on track, followed by him treating you well and maybe even apologizing for what he said or how he treated you, promising to be better and telling you all the things you have been wanting to hear goes on and on.  You stay because you truly believe that the fights are your fault and “if only” you would stop saying/doing the wrong thing and “be good” then “everything would just stay good and happy”.  You stay because of those times when he is so loving and apologetic and kind. You tell yourself this is the man you fell in love with and this is your “real” relationship and the rest of the time he is just in a bad mood.  This is NOT healthy. This is abusive, only by the time your relationship is at this point, your self esteem is so low that you truly don’t see it and leaving is not even on your mind. 

When you first meet and fall in love with someone, whether you know it or not, you started to envision some future for the two of you.  If you’re fortunate enough to find your person and work on having a future together, then that is wonderful.  However, the hardest thing to truly accept is if that is not the case and you did not meet “the one”. While heart-breaking and disappointing, you really are better off accepting that what you really fell in love with was the future fantasy you made up in your mind.  One that you imagined having with a stranger with whom you had an overwhelming initial physical attraction.  It’s a grieving process to let go of that fantasy.  And, if you are truly in an abusive situation, the best thing you can do for yourself is reach out for the support of loved ones to help get yourself out and start to work on your self esteem in order to move forward.

Nobody would ever say that the ending of a relationship that started out “so great” is an ideal outcome.   However, I am putting it out there that it is entirely possible to see it as a wonderful thing.  Wonderful because you are no longer wasting time with the wrong person.  Wonderful because now you can be free to find the person with whom you want to have a great relationship.  Staying with the wrong person who you unfortunately continue to try make fit into being someone they can never be will only keep you from truly being happy with someone else.  Ultimately it is a waste of time. 

The bottom line: not every relationship is going to work out. Don’t walk away feeling bad about yourself. Try to walk away feeling empowered, realizing you are taking charge of your life and giving yourself the opportunity to find a truly “great” relationship.