Relationship advice through the lens of your rearview

Alyza LeBlanc

Have you sacrificed your feelings, values, needs, joys or life dreams in order to sustain a relationship? Here's the brutal truth - if you have, that partner was not right for you. Your partner should want these things for you as much as you do for them. If you are not working together to identify, adjust and work toward fulfillment for each partner, that relationship is fractured.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend attempting to end a relationship but struggling to emotionally let go. Initially it appeared the partner held all the characteristics he believed he wanted. He intentionally pursued someone the exact opposite of his previous partner. The problem was instead of identifying specific attributes he needed, he just determined partner number one didn't work so I'll look for the the exact opposite. While the new partner has appealing characteristics, she has failed to fulfill his need for intimacy, both physically and emotionally, leaving him feeling like an outsider in yet another relationship.

There will always be differences between partners, that is part of what creates attraction. The key is taking some extra steps before settling into a relationship to identify those qualities that are critical to your wellbeing within a relationship. What are areas that you are willing to compromise and what are the show stoppers? Have you considered the characteristics of a relationship that make you feel most loved and secure?

I think many of us get into a relationship and start making excuses for things we are lacking, or we allow one or two characteristics that are really attractive to overshadow those things that are blatantly missing.

After evaluating some of my relationships, I recognize situations where I let the relationship develop despite "red flags". I have tended to let relationships happen to me, and been swept up in the romance, all the while, ignoring important signals that partners were not a compatible match.

I've also had to take accountability for jeopardizing good relationships by expecting things would not last, unintentionally pushing them away. I have been able to identify crucial characteristics that I excused away or did not address early on, never to determine if there was a middle ground could be reached.

I have taken the last few years off from all romantic entanglements which has given me a new perspective. I've been able to take ownership and recognize both the things I do well and the areas I need to improve. I've evaluated my past partners for those characteristics that fill me with love, joy, security and contentment, and identified the criteria that clearly does not suit the type of relationship I desire.

I no longer want to settle or be in an unfulfilling relationship just to have someone fill the role. Instead, I am clear with expectations, focused on what I want in a partnership and have the tools to be a better partner to someone else. I will take my time but am confident in success and am grateful for the revelation.

* This is a work of nonfiction, based on personal observation. I do not claim to be an expert in areas of public health, academia, mental health, or science, nor am I providing professional medical or legal advice. Opinions shared are expressly drawn from personal experience. *

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Lifestyle insights on work, parenting, and relationship balance from the perspective of a business professional and solo parent to an adopted teen.


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