So, these are the questions…:
I broke up with my fiancé of 9 months, and now it’s been 3 months and I still don’t know if it was the right decision. The reason why I broke up is because there were small things that bothered me that started to build up. Looking back at it, I feel like it’s things I can help him with to grow and I shouldn’t have abandoned him, yet then again, he never seemed to put in the effort. Am I a bad person for wanting to I change him?”
Me and my boyfriend have been together for 8 months. He’s bipolar so he calls me really early in the am and I didn’t want to wake up the rest of my family members so I hung up on him. Two hours later I messaged him, ‘What’s up?’ And I get this as a response: Sorry but I need someone who will be there for me when I need them to and clearly you cannot do that. And he also writes we really could have been amazing together and it kills me to say this but lose my number. And he also blocked me from everything – his phone, all social media… I can’t understand why he would get so upset over something so silly. I really loved him, and this is driving me crazy because I thought that he loved me. Why do you think he did this, and do you think that he will be back?”
I am seeking guidance to my situation as I’ve lost all hope and I have no idea what to do. I have been with my current partner for approaching 5yrs. We have loads in common and I love him to bits but we have never had any sex life. I just don’t feel special or important to him. He’s not prepared to get any help for his issues, I’ve offered to go with him to talk to someone but I think he’d be more prepared to let me walk away than to try and sort it out, which to me says our relationship isn’t important to him. After nearly 5yrs am I wasting my time?”
-Confused Gals of the Universe
Dear “Confused Gals of the Universe,”
Now, not only to kill multiple birds with one stone – (I mean, I’m lazy, but not that lazy, lol) – but to stick by my preference of teaching y’all how to fish opposed to giving y’all fish, I’m going to respond to these questions by sharing the FOUR things a professional counselor shared with me when I was once confused about what one should looking for in a man and relationship worth staying in and fighting for.
And in no particular order, those things are:
- Chemistry, (of course). In its most easily identifiable terms, this means that you’re with someone that you want to touch… Kiss.. Hug… And “bang.” Now, with that said, since these feelings can not only come and go, but can cause some to over-look other important things in a satisfying relationship, (like good treatment), it’s very important to balance it out with the other three criteria. But, yeah, he can’t just be a “nice guy.” You gotta want to touch the boy.
- Intellectual Connection. While you two may not be into all of the same things, or have the same educational background, it is important that the other person understand you when you speak, (lol). And note that I’m not saying that your partner should automatically get your emotions the first time they’re conveyed. (It takes genuine curiosity, respect, and a strong desire to do so for a partner to get past their own seemingly-conflicting needs and truly hear you; as well as patience on your part to work with him until he does. [And vice versa when needed.]) I’m saying that you should feel like you’re on “the same level” so that you can converse with your partner about your interests. This is what allows for the foundation of friendship.
- Safety. A feeling of safety in the relationship is not only a big one because it manifests in so many ways, but it takes a lot of time to fully accomplish and see if it’s there. Not only do you need to feel safe physically, which is only determined after experiencing adversities. (How does he treat you when he’s upset, frustrated, angry, hurt, or feels like he’s losing something, etc.?) But it’s important to feel safe emotionally. Can you be vulnerable, open, and honest about everything with this person. Does he have your back? Is he willing to protect and provide for you? Is he devoted and dedicated to you and the relationship? If you value monogamy, does he? Do you two have other shared values like marriage, family, and a commitment to work things out during tough times?… Feeling safe will make room for trust and allow you to let your walls down and become a true team player. But remember, actions speak louder than words, so be prepared to give this box time before checking it off.
- Love For Each Other. Simply put, do you two care for each other? Do you want the best for each other? Support each other? And respect each other? This love you two share for each other will be the glue that will help you guys weather the storms, push each of you to communicate when tired, seek counseling when needed, and even learn each other’s “love language” if either of you don’t speak it naturally.
*Bonus criteria I can’t help but add!*
- Your gut’s approval! I know you might feel like you gut is broken or “misguided,” or that you simply don’t have enough life experience to put faith in it, but trust me, your instincts won’t fail you because deep down you know if something’s good for you or not. So, learn to trust your emotional guidance system by, guess what, trusting it! But, yeah, I know it’s hard so that’s why I laid out the criteria that’ll help you when you’re having trouble trusting yourself. But at the end of the day, just know that if this guy and his behavior feels consistently good, you can go with it. If it doesn’t feel consistently good, and you find yourself making excuses for bad behavior, let your courage and faith help you in walking away. After all, remember, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no!” Best of luck!
Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to. And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.