When and How to Terminate a Relationship - Part 5
- Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Over the past four articles we've been examining relationship termination. There is no way for a good person to feel pleased when it's time to end a relationship with someone they like, especially if it's clear that they really like you.
But in order to marry the right person, you need to avoid marrying the wrong person. That means understanding when a relationship isn't going to work and ending it.
As a quick review, here are the points I've touched on previously.
- If you have doubts, set a six-month limit to make a decision.
- Some problems require an immediate termination of the relationship.
- Understand the importance of chemistry to a relationship.
- Assess your ambivalence.
In the final installment we look at your enthusiasm.
Idea Number Five
The fifth area that I want to talk to you about is when there is a low level of certainty about the wisdom of investing more of yourself in the relationship. You just aren't sure at all that this is the right relationship for you.
"She's a nice person, he's a nice guy, and you know, I like his mother, I like her mother, and they have a really nice family and he's always been very kind and considerate to me but I don't know, I just don't get excited about it." You've got a kind of a low level of drive.
Making a marriage work takes energy – boy does it take energy! You've got to fill your energy tank on a frequent basis, and the more natural it is the better off you are.
If you need to fill your energy tank and work hard just to understand the other person or work hard to feel good about the other person, that's tough. So if you have kind of a low level of energy in relation to another person, here's what I'd suggest. I would suggest that you go see someone like myself, a psychologist, who's been at it for a long time and who can see you for five sessions. All I want you to do is see this person for five sessions.
Don't make a career of seeing this person, and here's what I'd like you to talk about. I'd like you to say, "Here's what I like about this other person and here's what I don't like about this other person." My suspicion is that, on this low level of energy, your list will be short on both sides. There will be some things you like, but not very many. There will be some things you don't like, but not very many.
It's kind of like you just don't have much drive to be with them. The big questions I would ask you are these:
"What would it be like five years from now if you say no to this person right now?"
"What do you think you would look back and feel?"
If you say, "You know, I think I'll look back and say, I think he was a good person, and I know that she's married now, but I don't think I'd have many regrets," there's your answer.
How long would you go with this nice person? How long would you go with this low level of interest? I'd say again, six months or so if you want to. I mean, when you get married, make sure it's a big emotional thing for you. Make sure that you just love this person so much. Marylyn and I were in different parts of the country during parts of our courtship and I can still remember that everything about my mind was on her.
I was in the east going to graduate school and Marylyn was in the west, a stewardess for an airline. We wrote to each other two full typewritten pages every day, and I would look out the window of the classroom I was in, waiting for that mailman to come because I could just not wait to get her letters. That energy has served me well. Her energy was similar and served her well through these long years of our marriage. That's what I want for you: Plenty of energy in the relationship.
Well, those are the five ideas. Remember this: The likelihood is, if a relationship is going to get good, it will get good early on because ultimately most relationships get good pretty early and you have a little bit of a tough time holding on to the goodness over the years. If the relationship takes quite a while before it gets good, it's quite an unusual relationship. Six months is probably long enough to wait.
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