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Though most of us are currently single or dating, at some point, it is likely that we will be in committed relationships again. Though some of these bonds will last a lifetime, many will ultimately be tested, leading us to question whether we are willing to stay together or not.
When it comes to relationship problems, many of us tend to view things in black and white. Either we stay together or split up; there aren’t any other options, are there?In reality, there are many “shades of grey” when it comes to working on, or transitioning out of, serious romantic relationships. If you’re facing challenges in your relationship and are struggling to decide whether to stay together or split up, consider the full spectrum of options.
Option 1: Stay Together & Work on the Relationship
If you’re in a relationship that’s fundamentally sound, you and your partner may decide to stay together and work on improving your relationship. When both partners are committed to working through their problems and restoring happiness and intimacy to their relationship, this is often the best option.
Staying together and really working on a relationship takes effort. Couples may choose to seek out therapy, both as a pair and individually, or may use other resources, such as workbooks and support groups, for improving their relationship and healing themselves. These couples are committed to improving their bond on all levels.
Option 2: Stay Together & Stay the Same
Though few people actively “choose” this relationship dynamic, many individuals facing relationship problems often fall into this pattern by default. In these relationships, partners realize that their connection is unfulfilling. There may be a lack of connection on a physical or emotional level. Certain difficulties may have led to fighting and suffering.
These relationships often remain the same as a result of personal ambivalence. Both partners continue using the same coping mechanisms and communication styles that they always have, ultimately leading to unhappiness. Perhaps one partner will seek fulfillment outside of the relationship, or someone may ultimately choose to leave.
Staying together and refusing to work on your relationship is a choice. Though rarely a good option, you can choose to remain unhappy in your relationship.
Option 3: Stay Together & Change the Relationship Dynamic
Sometimes, partners realize that their current relationship dynamic isn’t working for them. Though these individuals may love one another, the former terms of their relationship are no longer leading to happiness and fulfillment.In this day and age, there are many ways in which couples may choose to change their relationship. Opening up a relationship to other partners is an increasingly common choice. One couple may choose to allow for sexual experiences outside of the relationship while maintaining their own sexual and romantic connection. Some may allow their partners to seek out romantic bonds with others, too. Perhaps a third partner is even welcomed into the relationship. Others may choose to stay together purely platonically, perhaps for practical reasons. Couples should be cautious when changing the terms of their relationships, however. What makes one partner happy may leave the other feeling rejected.
Option 4: Separate in Some Ways
Sometimes, separating in certain ways is what couples need. Leading semi-separate lives can be a way to determine if a relationship is worth working on or not. Some couples who have been living together may decide to move into separate spaces. Others may find that they need to disentangle their lives in other ways. Those who have been fighting over their finances may decide to live financially-independent lives for the present; others may decide to end their romantic bond and convert their connection into a purely sexual “friends with benefits” relationship. Others may try being friends for the time being, setting aside romance and sex while reconnecting on a platonic level.
Some couples may find that they have a good connection in one way, but aren’t ideal for each other on another level. Disconnecting in some ways can also be a good way to identify problem areas in a relationship. Maybe you and your partner are happy together when you’re not living in the same space. Perhaps permanently altering the terms of your relationship will allow you to stay together; on the other hand, you may find that you’re simply happier apart.
Option 5: Separate Fully
If both you and your partner have determined that your relationship isn’t working, it may be time to separate and move on with your lives. Those who choose this option have determined that they can live their best lives apart from one another. Continuing any form of romantic or sexual connection with one another would be unhealthy for both partners. For those who truly want to move on with their lives, this is the best choice.
For many people, relationship problems are best met with clear-cut solutions. Truly recommitting to your partner, or splitting up completely, are often the most straight-forward solutions. Perhaps, however, one of these alternative options may work better for you. Discuss things with your partner to find the best solution for you and your relationship!
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