Then we silence the voice, reaffirm our commitment to the relationship, and proudly rationalize that "True Love Conquers All". Only to sadly realize months or years later that the little voice was right.
The Love Dilemma is the reluctance to challenge the "minor issues" as one begins to fall in love. The fear that the entire investment into the relationship may be lost if a minor issue is challenged creates a fear of loss that usually leads one to either:
- Ignore the issue and assume you will deal with it later, or
- Repress the issue because it is only Minor, or
- Assume you can change the other party after you are married and the commitment level is solidified.
The natural and virtually unavoidable consequence of this typical emotional pattern is making a long term relationship decision based on incomplete and false information. If one accepts the Equity Theory of Relationships, then the initial misperception of who is putting what into the deal is false from the beginning, resulting in Misguided Expectations. When that party eventually realizes they can neither ignore these issues nor change the other party, they Revisit the Equity of the Relationship, eventually resulting in divorce when the truth of the inbalance is finally accepted.
There is No Such Thing As A Soul Mate
The romantic notion that there exisits:
One person, our exact "Soul Mate", who is so perfectly matched that we would never fight, never disagree and remain eternally happy no matter what happens, is a cruel myth.
At least with Santa Claus we eventually tell our children the truth, but so many adults still believe the Myth of a Soul Mate, that it continues to be affirmed in the minds of our children and remains a significant obstacle in relationships.
The fundamental fallacy with the concept of a Soul Mate is the assumption that a soul mate embodies perfection through the exact matching of thinking, feelings and emotions.
This thinking is rooted in the Traditional View of Marriage where the gender roles are rigid and well defined. The only consideration in the Traditional Model for Adapability or Personal Responsibility is in accepting your place based upon your gender. A tremendous human capital investment has been made in our religious and societal institutions to accept unhappiness and suffering as good, natural and serving the higher moral objective of the continutity of marriage. Consequently, in this manner of thinking, happiness is only attainable when the parties are perfectly matched, as in matched in heaven as in Soul Mates.
The problem arises with the inevitability of change in modern society and the reality that a modern marriage using Traditional Relationship Roles is doomed to failure.
All of this changes when we recognize that Compatibility is only a single part of Relationship Success. The larger truth is we can create Structed Equilibrium in our relationships by understanding the truth about what we commit to the relationship and by adjusting our Needs and Preferances to allow us to be more resiliate and adapable to the inevitable change that will occur.
A more accurate and modern view of a Life Mate is:
A person of inter-dependent maturity who values their partner's contribution to the relationship more than their own preferences, and whose needs in the relationship are satisfied by the actual contribution of the other person.
Before you entertain the question of Marriage?, you should be able to answer the question Am I Prepared to be a Life Mate?
Can Love Conquer All Obstacles?
We are mislead by many myths that traditionally have helped support a paternal dominated society when the woman is dependent upon the man:
- Love Conquers All - A long term loving relationship needs not only the sexual chemistry of biological love, but requires both compatibility and commitment. The call to arms in the name of love is a small part of the fabric of society that teaches and supports the Traditional Relationship view, and helps us rationalize our own dissallusionment with our lot in life. This is particularly true for women who are disadvantaged in the Tradtional Paternal view.;
- Everyone Has a Soul Mate – in fact there are probably many thousands upon thousands of people who would make a highly compatible mate for any one person, but there is No Such Thing as a Soul Mate. The better question is are YOU prepared to be a Life Mate?;
- Love at First Sight – is really just compatible chemistry at work. Did you even notice that when things do not work out we call it infatuation and when a relationship develops we call it love at first sight? This myth simply adds support to making irrational decisions based on Love, then justifying the end of the relationship because "We fell in love and were overwhelmed with emotion, but we were not really Soul Mates". It allows a party to avoid taking personal responsibility for misguided expectations and incompatibilites in their relationship;
- Do Not Settle for Less Than Perfection – is a key to loneliness and disillusionment. In reality, this myth is nothing more than a restatement of the definition of a "Soul Mate", i.e., since there is that one unique person out there that is perfect for you, never make a commiment until you find your Soul Mate or your life is doomed to unhappiness. The truth is that when looking for a love partner you will not find someone who perfectly fits all of your desires and preferences. What you will find is someone who meets your critical needs and who adds to the relationship those qualities that make it a fair deal from your point of view.;
- Good Sex Means You are in Love – Good sex may mean a lot of things, such as compatible Physical Chemistry or Love-making skill of a partner, but it is neither the definition of, nor the benchmark for love. However, "Good Sex" is part of the romantacized myth of the mystery of love. In reality, good sex is neither an indication of love, proof that you are soul mates, proof that you are destined to be together, nor does it even mean you have a good relationship.
Figuring Out Why You Want It
Have you ever wondered, why is it that some people are attracted to each other? Perhaps you have heard yourself say "What on earth does she see in him?"
95% of our decisions about who
to love are controlled by subconscious imprinting that occurred when we were
children. As a consequence, we rarely know What We Really Want
Until we recognize that our sexual and romantic desires are affected and controlled by our sub-conscious as a result of childhood events, we can never really know if our intellect is in control of our desires and our decisions about who we have a relationshup with.
How can you answer the question Are You The One For Me? if you are not aware of the influence that your childhood had on your relationship decisions as an adult.
If you find your self attracted to the same type of partner, who time after time turns out to be incompatible, then you may have destructive relationship patterns that sub-consciously cause you to make the same mistakes over and over again.
Locating the persistent, negative patterns in your relationships is the first step toward eliminating those patterns.
The "Love Dilemma" is created in part by the fact that no matter how intelligent we are, millions of years of evolution has created a safety program in our sub-conscious that shades how we "feel" about something based upon our past experiences. Those feeling affect our decisions in subtly, but profound ways.
How this occurs is common for everyone:
Life Experiences --> Decisions --> Emotional Programming --> Love Choices
This is referred to throughout this web site as neuro-associative patterns. It is the default reactions that we have learned as a result of life experiences that affects how we feel about and judge our situation.
As adults, if we want to influence the path of our lives, we must assume responsibility for the choices we make and begin make conscious choices that fulfill our long range goals and desires.
While this appears both simple and desirable, breaking well established neuro-associative pathways is a very daunting task that requires diligence, commitment and courage.
For most people, this is not something they can do by themselves. It is suggested that you work through this in a three step approach:
- Read Books about relationships that focus on your role in the relationship;
- Parcipate in a Relationship Workshop to help focus your attention on your Needs and Preferences;
- Consult with a Therapist or Pyschologist to help identify and work through particularly difficult issues.
Since we tend to be more motivated by avoiding pain than seeking pleasure, our next section discusses the pain of failing to end a "pretty good relationship".
Ending the "Pretty Good" Relationship
One of the hardest things to do is to walk away from a "pretty good" relationship, but it is nothing compared to the emotional tragedy of divorce, that in many ways is more difficult to adjust to than the death of a close family member.
Never forget, your sub-conscious will answer any question posed using your paradigm for its measure of pleasure and pain.
So on the one hand your sub-conscious is pushing you to stay in the relationship, while at the same time you are hearing that little voice questioning parts of the relationship.
The confusion is because different questions are being asked, and often it is difficult to determine if the sub-conscious is pushing you toward or away from a relationship. Often times, the efecct of the sub-conscious seems to be going in different directions. This effect is illustrated in the following examples:
"Should I break-up with him" - Your sub-conscious raises the question becasue there are some fundamental problems with the relationship, but your conscious will answer "NO!" as you rationalize your behavior with the support of your sub-conscious:
You will hurt his feelings
– You want to be nice
, but also sub-consciously find agreement with the conscious decision because you deeply desire to avoid the pain of guilt
Its not that big of a deal
– You minimize the thing that bothers you by falsely degradings its importance by comparing it to some biger objective, like keeping the relationship going
. In reality, if ignored, these minor problems turn into resentment, repression, anger, rejection and eventually the weight of these burdens inevitable contribute to the end of the relationship. Rendering all of your suffering in vain;
You will be alone again
– You consciously recognize the inevitable logic of the consequence of ending a relationship, and again, find strong sub-conscious agreement to avoid the pain of loneliness
He is good to you/Has done Nothing wrong
– The desire to be "a good person" is extremely powerful social lesson taught early in life. Those without that desire, generally are not interested in relationships. When he has "done nothing wrong" you also face the conflict of "reciprocity": doing something is reurn. When he has done nothing wrong, you desire to avoid the pain of guilt
for taking advantage of an innocent;
You Love him
– The Love Dilemma is a "catch-22", not unlike the effect of drinking alcohol: the more you drink, the less able you are to detect the true state of your sobriety. Believing that "Love Conquers All" may be romantic, but it is also fool hardy;
You'll never find anyone else [who can...]
– The more invested, the greater the fear of loss
. The very nature of the Love Dilemma, is that the longer you continue, the more you have to lose;
Your sub-conscious may start posing the dilemma rather than answer the question:
Answering this question is Painful.
Asking a different question is Not Painful.
So rather than asking yourself "Should I break up with him?" you start wondering "Is it really his fault?; Will I find anyone else; Is it really that important...".
You now have entered the endless loop of avoidance, as the answer to that question remains the same.
Perhaps the better question is:
"Why can't I answer the question?"
Listen to the doubting question and let you mind answer it before allowing yourself to revert back to the safety of the alternate question as an answer. This is more difficult than it seems. Depending upon yopur situation it may require third party intervention with professional therapist to really expose the deeply rooted fears and conflicts controlled by your sub-conscious.
Ignoring that little voice may lead you to marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons. Divorce is far more painful, than breaking up a "pretty good" relationship.
How do you know whether to Break up or Work it Out?
A significant portion of this web site and our work is dedicated to answering this question because our mission is to:
Empower people with better decision making knowledge before marrige to decrease the rate of divorce and strengthen the commiment and passion of long term relationships.
There are many good and healthy reasons for breaking up. There are also many bad reasons, or unhealthy actions that divert the responsibility for the breakup onto your partner.
In summary, it is really as simple as this four step process:
- Indentify Your Needs and Preferences - What you want, why you want it, and classification of what do you Need versus what do you want;
- Indentify Your Level of Commitment - Your lelvel of commiment controls the adapability of the relationship when facing change, and thus affects the long term viability of the relationship;
- Indentify Your Level of Maturity - Your maturity on the continuum and your relative position to your potential partner, as well as your expectations for change are critical to the long term viability of the relationship;
- Does Your Partner Fit the Bill - Does your partner meet all of your Needs, possess the approprite level of maturity, have the requiste level of commitment and have the physical and compatibility characteristics that are needed to attract and keep you passionate.
There is one more step: courage to do the right thing, just remember you are not alone.
The resources on this web site, and the people behind it, are dedicated to helping everyone who has a desire to improve their relationships or their own ability to become a better relationship partner.