General Dating Questions/On again off again
Thanks for reading this over your Xmas holidays. It is this time of year that in both 2011 and 2012 my boyfriend and I twice now have broken up and gotten back together again.
In 2011 we had been dating for the whole year (starting in early Feb). But I discovered there were parts of his personality that were disrespectful and rude – he began constantly running hours late or blowing me off for his friends at the last minute. I asked him many times to sort his timetable out so it wouldn’t keep happening and that I was growing tired of always being blown off. It felt like he had lost interest in our relationship.
He continued to do it so I went over to his house and broke up with him that night. Within 3 days he was ringing asking if we could talk. He said he had spent those 3 days thinking about how many people had been telling him how rude he was being, and that those actions had led to me breaking up with him. We agreed to get back together and that he would work on his scheduling. There was such an amazing turnaround after that, he has never ONCE been late since in 2 years, nor blown me or anyone else off if they’ve booked something in with him. I was so happy!
Our second break up happened a year later in late 2012 when his job fell through. He slipped into quite a dark state and I didn’t even recognise him emotionally anymore. He didn’t sound like himself or make any sense to me. He broke it off this time and said he couldn’t be with me if he didn’t know what was going on with himself. I told him I was never going to give up on him (how was it his fault he lost his job?) but would give him space to sort himself out. He moved back to his home town and saw a counsellor for 3 months.
Upon his return after 3 months he asked if we could work on getting back together. It wasn’t immediate this time, we spent about a month ‘dating’ again and just talking things out. It took a while but we’ve now spent most of this year being in a solid relationship again. We’ve talked out the break ups and that we both feel like that happened for a reason, and that each one made us stronger.
My concern is what my friends are telling me – that on again off again relationships are the weakest and will most likely end. That they are full of unresolved issues and conflict. I thought that we had resolved all the issues that led to both break ups. I never want to be apart from him again because he’s grown to become my best friend as well.
How can I ensure that our relationship is a healthy one? Are couples allowed to have conflicts, as long as they are resolved? What is a good way of working out any kinks that may happen along the way?
Point #1: You never resolve "all the issues" in a relationship. Point #2: Stop listing to your friends - they have absolutely no clue what they're talking about.
The very nature of committed relationships both connects people and their own personal (and selfish - not necessarily a bad thing) needs, wants and goals while at the same time pitting them against each other to get those things.
I don't say any of this in a negative way. We are selfish creatures. After all, why would you get into a relationship in the first place? It's not to work to make someone else happy (although that should be the overarching goal). It's to make ourselves happy.
With that in mind every relationship has built-in conflicts and sometimes you need to work through them - as a team. You've heard it said constantly that "relationships take work" and that's very true. The problem is, these paragons of wisdom never bother telling you what that means exactly (mostly because they have no more clue than your friends!)
Well, I'm going to do just that: it means that you will move from conflict to conflict separated by periods of comfort, security and happiness. If you focus only on the conflicts you're going to miss the periods of happiness in between.
Think of it like a very long, winding road. If all you see are the bumps and potholes along the way, you're far less likely to get started. Instead, if you focus on the long-term goal - the destination (which never comes by the way!) your trip changes dramatically. Sure, you have to refuel sometimes. Sure, you have to repair your vehicle others. But, for the vast majority of that time (hopefully) it'll be clear driving - with the fun and excitement of seeing what's around the next bend.
This is the thing that most modern relationships lack - a simple commitment to the journey itself. You don't know where you're going. Your boyfriend doesn't know either and I certainly don't know. In that, you will never "arrive". Instead, you have to commit to that unknown and agree to deal with the bumps when you hit them - and hit them you will.
Your experience has proved that out.
If you're looking for the relationship without conflict you're not likely to find it. The only ones I know of like that are where one or both people are so unconcerned with the thing that problems have no meaning. They just give up and "settle". These people also live lives of "quiet desperation" knowing that they are unfulfilled and accept it as their own reality.
I'd never want you in anything like that! All good relationships are built on foundations of passion, great sex, respect, communication, support, conflict, joy and of course commitment.
Don't think that avoiding conflict will get you anywhere but quiet desperation. Instead, live for the joy and let the commitment to your destination be what drives you forward and keeps you together.
Dr. Dennis W. Neder
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”