If you asked most people to tell you why they have or want a relationship, you’d hear answers like, “Companionship, to have someone to grow with, to have a warm body to snuggle up next to.” In a million years you wouldn’t hear the words, “To make me unhappy.” And, if you did, you’d immediately cart that person off to a qualified therapist for the emotionally insane.
Yet many of us choose to stay in relationships that make us unhappy vs. pulling the plug and putting our own happiness above that of the relationship. Which, if you think about it, is kind of insane. Why would you choose to keep a source of suffering, drama, and excruciating effort in your life, isn’t life complicated enough? Why would you cling to a relationship for dear life, despite the fact that it’s robbing you of one your basic human desires, happiness? Or more importantly, how are you unknowingly using your relationship to make yourself unhappy?
1. You Forget That He/She’s Supposed to Nice to You
Three weeks into dating my current husband, Noah, he looked at me and said, ‘Christine, I don’t know what is going to happen between the two of us, but you have to raise your standards for men. You can’t like a guy because he’s nice to you. He’s supposed to be nice to you.” “Whaaaaaat???” My head cocked to the side and I looked at Noah like he had just told me my parents were really aliens from Mars. How did I – accomplished marketing executive and MBA student -- not know this? Of course, my logical brain was aware that people should be nice to you, but deep down, I had no clue.
Based on my experience of men, I had come to expect men to be hypercritical, verbally abusive, angry for no good reason, self-centered, and controlling. And honestly, deep down, I didn’t believe that men cared about ‘relationships,’ intimacy and being loved. And so, I, and most of my girlfriends, dated what we expected, and ended up unhappy. Or if by chance a “good guy” did come along, we tried to get rid of him for ‘being too nice.” We say we want one thing, but then we attract and hang onto something quite different.
HAPPY RULE: If your guy or gal isn’t nice to you, then they don’t deserve you. You deserve unconditional love and respect, and you must demand it in your relationships, or the relationship has to end (friendships included!) The trick is that you can’t get what you don’t give yourself, which means you have to give unconditional love and respect to yourself and others if you want it in return.
2. You Make Love the End Goal, and the Reason to Stay
Most of us look for relationships because we want to ‘fall and be in love.” So we find a person, fall in love and then we do everything we can to keep that love, even if the relationship and the person keeps us from our personal dreams, expression and purpose on this planet… making ourselves unhappy because we are not being true to our most important partner, M-E! Because we are so scared to lose the love of this person, we settle, putting our dreams on hold, minimizing our desires and sacrificing pieces of ourselves for the sake ‘of the relationship.’ Ultimately we create our own unhappiness because we have made receiving the love of this person more important than loving ourselves.
HAPPY RULE: Don’t settle for less than your heart and soul desire for your life, even if it means ending a relationship. And pick a partner who helps you reach your dreams and be the best you possible.