Relationships start out with such promise. Everything seems so perfect. The way they look, speak, smile and the newness of it all is so sweet. Then over time the power of the beginning attraction begins to fade like the sun setting on the blush of a rose. First there are those disappointments, he forgets your birthday, she has a strange attachment to her brother, then the squabbles, until finally you feel alienated and you don’t know how you got there. Don’t know if my readers remember Citizen Kane by Orson Wells, but there is a breakfast table scene that plays out the arc of a failing relationship. It’s done in about seven small scenes ending with the two of them in total silence. So how do we know when a relationship is worth saving, or we should throw in the towel?
There are some very real clues about what makes a relationship fail and what makes is sing the Star Spangled Banner.
Clue #1. Are you able to look at what you might be doing to cause the current conflict? If not then probably you should be a confirmed bachelor and save yourself the trouble of getting left over and over again. Not being able to look at yourself is the most important characteristic for a lasting relationship.
Clue #2. Are there any substance abuse or alcohol problems? This one is a no-brainer. If we are high we can’t get by. We have to be conscious if we want to connect with our partner. Getting high is a way to not look at our pain and suffering or whatever is bothering us, so it just remains and comes right back, ergo no relationship can withstand ground hog day.
Clue #3,4,5. Is this person overly anxious, depressed or has Mommy or Daddy issues that are not worked out? No way.
Clue #6. Can this person be sexual? What distinguishes a marriage or a relationship from a pure friendship is sex. So, if that is not working, nothing else will unless both of you are asexual.
Clue #7. Does this person have anger or rage problems? This is not going to be a fun relationship and you will burn out on the tantrums.
Clue #8. Can they deal with their own stuff? Paying bills, being on time, cleaning up after themselves may not seem important but over time they will wear you out.
If you answered yes to all those questions, jump out the back Jack or get a new plan because you are in deep do do. If your relationship is going to work you will need to know something about yourself, you have to be able to be reasonable and willing to work on stuff to see your part in it, and be clean and sober. These are the givens. But don’t be surprised when someone in your family shows up with a complete wreck who they plan to change. Changing someone has to be off the table or you will be under it. The best way to tell if you can make it with someone is that you know the worst of them and it’s not so bad. If you can take the very deep down crud of another person and still be on your feet, you will make it. Hang tight, do the work when it comes up and in the meantime have some fun, you deserve it.