Question: My boyfriend and I have been having a rough patch in our relationship. We’ve been together for four years but the last one year has really been very difficult. He got laid off and has not been able to get a stable job since. He has become withdrawn and not the fun loving man I knew. He’s a very proud man and I know not being able to pay for dinners or buy me gifts is affecting his self-esteem. But I’ve told him I don’t care about all those things, I love him and that’s what matters. I’ve also told him if he wants his space, I’ll give it to him but he says he does not want to break up because breaking up is not the solution but I should do what I feel is right for me. I want things to be the way they used to be. What do I do, Yangki?
Yangki’s Answer: I’m sorry for what you are going through and can only imagine the emotional stress. However, I agree with your boyfriend, breaking up is not the solution.
First of all, breaking up when your intention is not to stay broken up is not a very good idea because by breaking up, you’ll be reducing your chances of ever being in a relationship with him into a half. You may get back together – or you may not.
Secondly, by breaking up, you’ll be putting a distance — emotional and physical – between yourselves. Trying to recover that connection will not be easy — you may or may not get that connection back. This also reduces your chances of ever being together into a half.
From where I see it, this is more your problem than it is his problem. You are expecting him to be a certain way and because he is not, it’s upsetting and frustrating you. Don’t get me wrong, you have every right to want what you want and to ask for it. Problem is, he can’t give it to you right now, at least not in the way you want it.
My advice would be for you to let go expecting him to be a certain way and accept that for now, this is your reality. It is what it is. It doesn’t mean you agree that he should be putting having a stable job above everything else, it just means you accept that there is nothing you can do to change things, right now.
Letting go will relieve you of the burden of “expecting” and that will in turn reduce the stress, making you a more pleasant and supportive person to be around. In my opinion, it’s the most effective way of showing him that there are other important things in life than a stable job – like a girlfriend who will stand by you even when you don’t have a job. And unlike, breaking up, letting go allows you to maintain that connection through this rough patch in your relationship.
You have a good thing going on, don’t ruin it just because right now it doesn’t “feel good”. Even the most fulfilling relationships don’t “feel good” all the time. Life itself doesn’t “feel good” all the time. It’s unrealistic to expect a relationship to “feel good” all the time.
One of the quotes that I believe better illustrates the similarieis between life and relationships is:
“I never asked for it to be over. Then again, I never asked for it to begin. That’s the way it is with life, some of the most beautiful days come completely by chance; but even the most beautiful days have their sunsets.”
People who accept this simple fact tend to be happier and have better relationships than those who are always trying to “feel good” or avoiding the not-so-good feeling.