Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meet me at the crossroads...

"Relationship Crossroads" are a commonality amongst couples. We'r all out there looking for "Mr/Ms Right", but how do we know if we've found them? How do you know if the relationship you are in is worth fighting for? What if lasting in a long term relationship isn't about what you start with, but what you are willing to build along the way?

This weeks topic is stemming from some personal things I'm currently dealing with, so I thought it would be a good thing to write about - maybe get some feedback & hopefully learn something myself through my research for this post.

A little back story - I've been with my current boyfriend, Adam, for a little over a year and a half now. We both have very different past experiences which have definitely shaped who we are when we, as individuals, become an "us". I've personally been in a lot of dead end relationships, which actually suited me quite well in the past. I was never really looking for anything serious, or long term. I subconsciously was seeking out "losers" because I knew they could give me what I wanted at the time - fun & company. I knew I'd never have to go through this awkward, heart-wrenching breakup because the end was expected from the get-go. I think my past relationship habits really screwed me when it came time for a "real relationship". When we first met, I had plans of moving to Texas for a job about 9 months later, so I told him I wanted to keep things light. Before I knew it, I was in love - for the first time in about 6 years - and the whole job relocation thing fell thru due to our TX location closing. So, here I am almost a year later, in a relationship that I never saw coming. Adam, on the other hand, has been pretty much a serial monogamous dater. He's been in two 5 year relationships, with a few short term ones thrown in the mix. He's used to being, pardon the term, "boo-ed up". His last relationship officially ended about 5 months or so before I met him. They had been together about 5 years in total, but things slowly fell apart when her parents moved out of state and she decided to follow. Adam, too, is very close with his family and couldn't imagine leaving them here in MN, so he stayed. They tried the whole long distance thing, but in the end, she wound up meeting someone else and is currently engaged.
Fast forwarding a little - Adam has been unemployed for a year, but thankfully just got a job yesterday - hallelujah. Being jobless has really taken it's tole on his pride and feeling of self-worth.
Now we start to near the crossroads.
I'm enjoying being in a committed, serious relationship. I know, I'm surprised myself! But things have been off lately. I feel like we've been at a stand still for months now, and not progressing in our relationship. I look around and all I see are my friends, who all have been with their S.O.'s for about the same amount of time, and they're all progressing - planning a future together, and if not planning - they've both acknowledged that there is a future. Yet here I sit, feeling like I'm back in a high school relationship that's not moving. I know that I'd like a future, and I can see it, but Adam's stuck. He's unsure of where things are going...and me, being a pushy girl, need to know where we're headed. I'm not looking for a ring, or a promise to marry me, just a willingness to move forward. To get out of this high school rutt, and onto a mature, adult relationship - onto building a life together. I am fully aware that sometimes relationships just don't work out - but I'm stubborn and refuse to accept that the relationship has run it's course, when I feel like we've never left the sidelines. I am, however, willing to accept that it's time to move on if he can't find the courage to get out on that track and see exactly what lies ahead with us. I just don't want to stay in a stationary relationship that never progresses enough to get to the point in which it's time to decide if marriage is in the cards for us. I don't wanna waste 3, 5, 7...even 10 years of my life just to find out he's never going to be ready to take things to the next level.
Adam's concern is that he's unsure if he's in the right place in his life to be in a serious relationship...which is where the unemployment part come into play a bit. Personally, I think it has a bit to do with fears that he's possibly subconsciously picked up throughout the years, partially due to the way his past relationship fell apart.
And now here we sit, questioning if this relationship is worth fighting for...

When two individuals make a choice to share their lives together, they often have to work hard and sacrifice in order to make the relationship work. This delicate dynamic consists of multiple levels that have been born out of hours, days, months, even years of communication, bonding, growing, changing, and understanding the core of the person you are with. Sometimes we take this intricate design for granted. The relationship becomes black and white instead of the many shades of gray that it really is. Somehow we become lost in the mud of everyday life, and we begin to question everything ahead of us, and we lose sight of the very thing we cherish most - each other.
So often we drift and grow apart and find ourselves at these crossroads that we never imagined being at. It's times like these that our relationships are truly tested.
A relationship is a work in progress - a structure that builds and changes over time, and it's nearly impossible to predict the end result.
These crossroads are heart-wrenching, but the end result can be a blessing. Should your relationship survive, you know your love can last thru the good and the bad. It can strengthen bonds that both parties worked so hard to build.

I think another reason relationships often land at these crossroads is because we let the romance, the chemistry, and the sparks go. These are vital to a long-lasting relationship. Mother nature gives you 6-18 months of animal attraction - enough time to see if there's real love or not. If not, it's time to move on. The good news, though, is that the passion can be revived. One of the easiest ways to bring romance back to a stale relationship is through touch. When you touch your S.O. in a loving way, you help them release the hormone oxytocin, "the cuddle chemical". Oxytocin makes us feel loved, warm, comforted and content. It bonds us and brings us closer. Making love and having orgasms productes shit loads of this stuff! But, you can also produce it by holding hands, hugging, giving each other massages, playing footsie, cuddling, spooning, etc. Another fix-it trick is laughter. In the beginning you're always laughing together and having fun, and it brought you closer. Laughing produces endorphins, our addictive, feel-good brain chemicals. As life, and stress get the best of you, you often times find yourself laughing less....but this can be fixed! Another awesome tool is dating. It needs to be made a priority again. In the beginning there's always butterflies. You'd get yourself looking and smelling your best and then wonder where the date would take you. Don't take dates for granted. Get dressed up. Put on your face. Shave those legs - and that face, gentlemen. Put on cologne/perfume. Show your S.O. that their worth getting ready for, and vice versa. As long as you two have something to look forward to together, the flames can stay lit.

Relationships are a lot of work. But they can be worth it....

I'll update ya'll as to how my personal love story pans out....only time will tell.

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