Every relationship hits a point where it feels like it's just not working anymore.
I don't just mean that failed relationships hit this point. No, I'm saying all relationships hits this point.
I think one of the worst lies we tell ourselves is "It's not supposed to feel this way." Whenever I hear this I have to wonder what people are expecting it should feel like. Are they expecting that relationships should always go smoothly? That partners will always feel connected? That there will always be a spark? All the time?
Well, Im excited to break the news to anyone who believes those things: Sometimes really good relationship feel like crap.
We are humans. Our relationships, just like the rest of our lives, are prone to hit challenges and slumps. And just like the rest of our lives, there's always a way to work through it and have things feel good again. We can start by letting it be ok that everything isn't perfect.
Whenever I've had the thought that my relationship isn't working, it's always been that some expectation I picked up from my external world isn't being met. I'm comparing how my relationship feels to how it looks from the outside, to how others' relationships look, to relationships in the movies, and I'm making it mean a lot of really damning things whenever it doesn't measure up.
Now, while there are certainly some ways it shouldn't feel (like physically threatening or consistently emotionally abusive, for example), there is no particular way it's supposed to feel. It's not as though relationships are any more magical or perfect than the rest of our lives, but I think we tend look at relationships through a metaphysical lens even if we don't see the rest of life that way. Even if we're not particularly deterministic, we begin to believe in fate when we fall in love. We think in terms of "meant to be" or "not meant to be" and we forget, almost entirely, that our lives are governed by cause and effect.
The truth is, the way it feels is always a direct result of the way we engage with each other. It's a direct result of how kind or unkind we are, how courageous or cowardice we are, how honest or dishonest we are. It's a direct result of how our conditioning and patterns are playing out.
Whether a relationship works out is not the result of some divine decision decreeing whether or not it was meant to be. No, relationships are not predestined and that's because the way we engage with each other is not predestined. The way we engage with each other is up to us.
So, that thing that happens after the honeymoon period where we lose the spark? I know it's tempting to decide that maybe it just wasn't meant to be. Many people will even say, "well, that's just the way relationships are" since we've seen it (and experienced it) so many times already. But it's actually much more simple than fate.
The reason this happens so often in relationships is because everyone has fear, beliefs, and conditioning that eventually build up and make them start behaving differently toward each other. It hurts on both sides and it gets in the way of their pure love.
So what do we do when we hit our self-created relationship glass ceiling; that spot in relationships where we've gotten stuck over and over but never quite gotten through?
The easy answer is that we do something different than what we've done in the past.
Many people believe that things will feel right with the right person, and if things aren't feeling right, we must not be with the right person. This leads to an unfortunate cycle where we bail out and look for something new whenever things start feeling really stuck.
I think the way it actually works is that even with a great person who has the potential to be a great match for us, things can feel awful when we're stuck in toxic patterns with them. What we really need to do is get free of those patterns, not leave our partner and find someone new to start the patterns all over again with.
Instead of assuming everything will click into place when we finally meet the right person, perhaps we should assume instead that the right person will only have the chance to click into our lives perfectly once we break free of the patterns we tend to play into.
Really, the best thing to do here is to talk with our partner, and perhaps a professional coach or therapist, about what we're feeling and both decide on some new approaches to try. Perhaps the relationship will take a turn for the better, or perhaps it'll become clear that it's not a good fit.
The most important thing is that deciding it's "not working out" isn't just a way to avoid facing the truth that "our patterns are sabotaging our relationship." Because if that's why we end up leaving someone we love, I can guarantee the same patterns will sabotage our next relationship, and the next, and so on, until we finally face that part of ourselves and penetrate all the way through it.
Relationships are great for personal growth because they touch us so deeply. A relationship is one of those things in life that's actually compelling enough to get us to work on ourselves and really change for the better.
I find that the couples who have the most resilient relationships are are those who are able to be honest with each other about their doubts every step of the way but still keep an optimistic perspective on their ability to overcome their challenges together. When their motivation is overcoming their challenges rather than overcoming discomfort, they're far more likely to find the way through.
Originally published on elephant journal