Have you ever found yourself in an unsatisfying, unhealthy dating relationship and thought:
“If I can just get my significant other to [listen/be more considerate/commit to me/insert your desired change here] then I’ll finally be happy?”
- or -
“Sure, we’ve got some major issues in our relationship but we love each other…isn’t that enough to stay together?”
I got to thinking about this troublesome, yet extremely common, grasping-at-straws behavior while (of all things) taking in a recent episode of “Project Runway.”
In case you’re not familiar with it, the reality TV show follows a group of fashion designers as they compete, through weekly design challenges and a runway show, for a cash prize to help launch their own clothing line. The unabashed display of creativity, the heart-pounding eliminations and, of course, the designers’ quirky personalities have me tuning in every week. But my favorite moment of each episode is when fashion mentor Tim Gunn pops into the workroom mid-way through the design challenge to observe the designers' progress and critique their work.
At least once per episode, Gunn will fold his arms across his chest and squint through his rimless eyeglasses at a questionable garment with a look that says, "What are you THINKING?"
"Talk to me. Where are you going with this?" he'll ask the designer.
Usually, the designer won't know the answer him/herself, replying with something like, "I really wanted to do something whimsical, but I'm having trouble with the detail work on the bodice."
"Ooookay," Tim Gunn will reply, skeptically. "Well right now it's looking like a hot mess."
And then he'll say my favorite catch phrase: "MAKE IT WORK!"
And work they will: cutting, stitching, re-envisioning and reconstructing. Miraculously, the “hot mess” that once hung on their dress form is suddenly transformed into a stunning garment worthy of walking the runway at Fashion Week.
Unfortunately, dating is NOT like Project Runway.
If you’re in a hot mess of a relationship, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you have the power to transform a flawed person into someone who will meet your needs.
It doesn’t matter how resourceful, determined or creative you are. Sometimes, the person we're with just isn't the right partner for us. Here are some signs that you’d be better off cutting your losses rather than patching things up.
7 SIGNS YOU SHOULDN'T TRY TO "MAKE IT WORK"
1. YOU FUNDAMENTALLY DISAGREE ABOUT THE 3 Fs
Faith, Finances and Family. These three tricky areas will trip up even the most loving couple. If you can’t share – or at least respect – one another’s spirituality; if your approach to finances is the polar opposite of your partner’s; and if one desperately wants children and the other is opposed (or physically unable) to having a family, you’ll likely find it impossible to make your relationship work.
2. YOUR LIFE GOALS/DREAMS ARE AT ODDS
If you want to travel the world but your significant other’s idea of adventure is ordering Chinese takeout, you might have a problem. If one partner dreams of being a stay-at-home parent and the other is a struggling artist with no predictable income, this is an issue you need to look at. Your only hope for making it work is to decide, as a couple, that your relationship is your highest priority, and then follow through with some major compromises.
3. YOU DON'T FEEL SAFE.