I’m not going to pretend like I have a perfect relationship with a perfect partner. I simply feel like I have a good theory good because it seems to work out nicely. Everyone deserves to be happy, and if I can help someone do that, then I have done my job, and my life has more meaning because of it. I’m just happy to help.
I’ll start by saying that it’s all about math. More precisely, it’s about percentages. You’d think that math has no place in relationships, but you could be wrong.
We all have days where things seem to be going perfectly-or almost, regardless of how long ago the last time you felt that way is. We also all have days where everything seems to go wrong, and those can stretch to seemingly interminable lengths. But when it comes to relationships, you’ve got to watch the ratio between the two.
The easy part: If you have a relationship in which you feel like you’re giving 75% and your partner feels like they’re giving 75%, then you’re very likely both giving 50%. I’d say your relationship is fair. Think about what the percentages would be in your relationship. You may not want to assume what their answer is here, because differences in perception make it so that the truth for one person isn’t always what it seems like from our perspective. It’s also unfair to assume that you have the same amount of energy or the same values about this. That said, If the answer for your partner seems close to yours, then that’s cool. But if it’s grossly out of range, then you need to reevaluate how you feel about this person, and how much work you’re realistically putting in. Sometimes it’s not fun to look at your mistakes, but letting go of our ego can go a long way to making ourselves and our relationships better in the long term.
If your percentage of happiness versus unhappiness in your relationship seems disproportionate, think about whether that seems worth it for you. You might be giving more than you think is fair on a regular basis compared to your partner, or not enough. Think about whether you need to change your expectations, and especially think about what you think you deserve, and stay as realistic as possible. It’s normal to give more than your partner for a period of time as long as the roles get reversed at some point to balance it out. Also note that if you expect someone to care for you all the time, then you’re forgetting that the person you’re dating is not a robot, but someone who also has needs and moments of weakness. There’s also people who’ll notice they have a superhero syndrome, where they’re devoting all of themselves to taking care of someone long enough that they get dragged down and burned out. That is also unhealthy, and that’s why, if the relationship still seems worth it to you even after having thought all of this through, then you need to develop coping methods.
The key to any good relationship is communication. It sounds cliche, but it is the most important thing because we are unfortunately not a telepathic species, so we have to use our heads and our ears and our mouths to learn from each other and adapt to each other. This is how good communication goes: “I feel this” said with an understanding that the other person is a sentient being and will have feelings and thoughts about that very subject. “You may feel this”, “I interpret it as that” because you never know when you’re assuming things or blowing them out of proportion in your head (artists, I blame our overactive imaginations on this). “I would like this” in order to propose a solution to the problem “What do you think about that” and be prepared for some disagreement. If your partner shoots down your proposal, then ask for them to propose one. It may take time. It definitely takes commitment to those proposals. And it should include a revision at a later point to see if the solution needs tweaking or to confirm its effectiveness. Again, as non-telepathic people, we need feedback to know if we’re on the right track.
If the solutions you agree on work less than 50% of the time, you have a problem. If the same problem comes back more than 50% of the time, there’s a problem. If you’re doing 100% of the work, there’s a problem. Adjust those percentages to what you feel is worth it, then evaluate again. Be aware that sometimes, you just need to get away, or take a breather, or do your own thing, and that’s fine too. Even when you’re a relationship, you’re still two separate complete people. Sometimes you need to be selfish. It’s just important to keep the other person informed and meet back up every now and then to share your separate experiences. The second key to a good relationship is respecting that there are differences between each of you and that neither is actually better or worse (most of the time).
That said, if it’s not working out for you, the odds of finding someone that you are satisfied with on this planet are huge. Think of it this way: if you know a lot of good people, then there’s gonna be better ones out there. If you know a few very good people, then there’s inevitably going to be better ones out there too. If you decide that you are too unhappy for too long, then go look for that person that’s going to be better for you. There’s no shame in dating yourself for a while, and there should be no guilt in leaving someone that’s not right for you, especially because, considering the odds, there’s also someone out there better for your partner.
Once you have found the person that gives you what you deserve, that respects you as much as you respect them, that’s willing to work as hard as you and as often as you, that’s great. Just be aware that life can change, life changes people, and people can no longer be right for each other. It is difficult to make a move to change things when they seem to have worked out well for you for so long, but it’s always for the better. For both people. You don’t want to be the one being held back because you could be getting something better, and you don’t want the person you love to be held back either.
You deserve to be at least 80% happy. No matter how much change that means you need to make happen. You can do it, because it’s right, and because it’s good for you!