Monday, January 28, 2013

Rationalizing Relationships

I had a conversation recently with a new friend about how easy it is to rationalize relationships.

As we shared past relationship stories, it was evident (in retrospect, of course) that we had convinced ourselves to remain in unhealthy or stagnant relationships for far too long. As I told random stories about things that had happened or things that I had done, there was always a feeling of embarrassment that lingered and the desire to hit myself in the head, 'What was I thinking?!' Who stays in a relationship when this happens, or that happens?

We can talk all day long about the things we could have done differently, or the regrets that we have... but, it doesn't really change what was. I think some of the best things we can do is learn from our mistakes in the past and be aware of the tendencies that we have to make similar ones in the future. Honestly, as much as I've done stupid things and not always been in the best relationships, I don't regret them. I think there was much growth as I discovered tons about myself, myself in relationships and the Lord in regard to relationships.

that doesn't mean I want to do it all over again.

So- if you're in the middle of a dating relationship and you're wondering if and when it's time to pull out, I'd encourage you to really check yourself to see if you're rationalizing the relationship. This may actually require a third party (ideally someone whom you trust and respect and who will be honest with you...and not too biased).

Be aware of your tendencies to do the following:
  • Be the hero. Often times we develop a hero complex and we want to 'save' those we are in a relationship with. This causes us to think that if we ever end the relationship, the other person will immediately start going down the 'wrong' path. It's in this moment that you must recognize that you are not the savior, you can't fix them, it's not your responsibility. If they're only on the 'right' path because of you, that's something to be aware of and it may behoove both of you to end the relationship (despite how it feels). 
  • People-Pleaser. Sometimes it just sucks to hurt people's feelings... especially if they haven't done anything wrong and they've actually been a really great person to be in a relationship with. This doesn't mean you should stay in the relationship, especially if you're not feeling it and if you're completely checked out. This is hard because you don't feel like you have any real reason to not want to be with them and so you try to convince yourself of the million reasons why you should stay. I've kind of decided that if I have to convince myself to want to date someone, I shouldn't be dating them. 
  • Be the victim. It's easy to think that we don't deserve anything, and so we allow ourselves to exist in relationships where we are treated like crap. It's okay though, because at least someone wants to be with us, right? Wrong. If you're in a relationship that is harmful for you (physically, verbally, emotionally, etc.) you need to get out. This isn't your last shot with someone, and the sooner you get out, the better. I firmly believe that the Lord longs for good in this area of our lives...someone who will cherish you, honor you, love you, and gently remind you of Him in all ways (even in the ways that you feel foolish admitting that you need). 
I think a lot of times we convince ourselves to stay in relationships because we are fearful of being alone. I know I've been there. Recently I've had to come to some drastic points where I realized that I would rather be single for the rest of my life than with the wrong person. There's a difference between letting things that don't matter matter and rationalizing things within a relationship. 

If you're still dating, there's a lot of stuff that you don't have to put up with yet...and a lot of it is stuff that you shouldn't put up with. I think I trick myself into thinking of dating as marriage and then I wind up letting a lot of stuff slide that doesn't need to be comprised on. 

Yes, relationships are hard...
But that doesn't mean you need to settle, compromise, or allow yourself to exist in misery because it's more often hard than it is good. I think a relationship should be good and can be good a majority of the time. As much as we like for things to be hard, I think it gets pretty destructive when we are in a relationship that's usually hard and rarely good. 

Be willing to step out of an unhealthy or stagnant dating relationship, even if it's scary and hard and it means you might be alone for a while. Don't rationalize. And, if you aren't sure if you are rationalizing... ask that trusted, wise friend or mentor for their honest opinion (and then be willing to listen to them when they tell you the truth). 

You'll be thankful for it in the end, even if it's hard. 
Allow the Lord to be good to you in this, even if it means walking away from something you're currently comfortable with. 

There's a hope to be found in trusting Him as you step into the unknown. 

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1 comment:

  1. You're so right about the marriage thing. I comprised so much because I wanted to be done looking for relationships and wanted it to be the end all (marriage) to protect my fears and unchecked emotions, so I rationalized over and over and I blocked all those emotions screaming telling me to get out. It got to the point where she broke up with me!! Ha! I felt so much relief, and clarity after, but wow...what a learning experience. I will now trust god with everything and never undermine what I know i truly want and need.