The answer is annoyingly ambivalent: yes and no. Love is relationship fuel. To get a relationship moving forward takes conscious effort. If there is love and you are willing to work for it, then you’ve got a shot at happiness. If cheating has taken place though, the relationship loses momentum and may stall altogether. It is up to both of you to determine if you can start it up again. One-sided effort brings one-sided heartache.
Both partners need to be committed to the effort of rebuilding. If that is the case both will learn a lot about themselves and each other. The relationship will be stronger than ever. If not… Sometimes we need to let go and learn from an experience. If you find yourself saying: “I just don’t know him/her anymore!” Chances are good you never did.
There are two instances where that can happen:
- Passion has been crushed by the mill of the daily grind.
- You have filled gaps in what you know about your partner with assumptions that reflect your desires, but not their reality.
Why isn’t everybody happy?
There are two logical explanations for why humanity is not frolicking in a conflict free paradise:
- Relationships are complex.
Most of us are works in progress. We haven’t yet clarified what we want out of life. When you put two works in progress together, you get double the uncertainties.
2. A healthy body takes conscientious effort, so does a healthy relationship.
Your body needs a balanced diet, adequate exercise, rest and fun. Your relationship needs balanced communication, adequate effort, commitment and fun.
Tune your Love GPS.
Notice the routes to your partner’s inner treasures, dislikes, fears and hopes. After 40+ year of research, the Doctors Gottman discovered partners that pay attention have stronger relationships. Awareness of each other’s inner map will help you avoid communication potholes and dead ends!
You count your money, right?
You should take inventory of valuable info about your partner too. Learn what is important to them, who they are inside. That active interest alone can make a huge difference in the quality of your connection. Share what is important to you also. It isn’t fair to just expect them to know.
On the other hand, if your partner is not interested in your inner world, walk away. Better yet, RUN! Anyone who has only superficial interest is not life partner material.
The Love Questionnaire:
Social Media is littered with silly quizzes. If you have the time to learn your celebrity Doppelgänger, you have the time to learn more about your partner! Think about what you do and don’t know. Are there important things they haven’t shared or that you haven’t shown interest in? Are there things you think you know, but may have just assumed? If you don’t want your partner to become a cheater, get interested. If your partner has cheated, find out what they weren’t getting that made them look elsewhere.
Is your partner interested?
A weird question? Not really. You are in a relationship, right? Doesn’t that automatically mean they are interested? Not necessarily. That may be hard to hear. If you are reading this though, you probably have doubts. Some people just can’t or do not want to be alone. They go through the motions with someone presentable, but they do not invest themselves.
Are you with a “drifter”?
If you feel that they haven’t let you in, they may be biding their time on the lookout for what they think they want. Their approach is superficial, and they tend to drift from one relationship to another without pausing for reflection in between. If your partner fits this pattern call them on it because they may not realize they are doing it. If they get angry: let them go. They will only continue to hurt you. If they are willing to talk about it: you may have made a breakthrough.
Know thyself, and thy partner.
Once the conversation has started remember:
- No judgement. The point is getting to know each other, not blaming each other for not knowing.
- Be open.
- What you learn may contradict what you’ve assumed. That is not your partner’s fault. Be glad you are learning their truth.
Take inventory, be realistic.
Once you have heard each other, it is less likely you will hurt each other. Square pegs do not fit in triangular holes. It is OK to discover that you may not be compatible. That is no one’s fault. It is not personal failure for either of you. It is just reality.
On the other hand, once you start really knowing each other you have a real chance. A relationship may begin with superficial attraction, but commitment and effort are what enduring relationships are built on. Commitment means loving someone “as is” and growing together. If you feel compelled to “change’ or “improve” your partner, perhaps you need to examine yourself first.