when is it over?

joulesR4meJune 10, 2004

So, how do you know when a relationship is over? Some friends have said, "when you stop having fun". But that doesn't seem right - lots of relationships have ups & downs, right?

So, I'm obviously looking for some advice ... and I guess I'll have to give you some info to get it! So, here it goes, in a nutshell (hopefully). Been dating a guy for about 8 months. Great guy - one of those salt-of-the-earth types. Unfortunately, our relationship has lots of unique qualities that add to the typical difficulties: age, finances, career development and education level being the greatest. Some of them are probably irritants for him, others for me. But none of those seem to get the best of us. Anyway, I keep holding out for "how great it could be once he gets established in Something". But, after 8 months, I don't know where we are. We talk a lot, but neither of us is ready for the L-Bomb. What's been getting to me recently are: girls chasing him, not moving forward, him feeling things aren't exciting enough (this is so far off - we're pretty physical, and we do tons of socialization), etc. I'm fairly insecure about the relationship now, but I don't exactly know why. I've been thinking of throwing in the towel, but just can't bring myself to do it. We have a great time together and are usually laughing all the time. I hate to give up on something that could be soooooo great, so I'm just trying to figure out "how do you know when it's over" and just to get out before you're miserable?? Is there some feeling? Or does that feeling have to be there for a certain amount of time? Can you recover from these insecurities? Should you know if you're in love w/i 8 months? yada-yada ...

Thanks for your suggestions & thoughts - sure will be appreciated.

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I'm wondering what you're really looking for. Fanfares, harps playing, starry eyes, scream-it-from-the-rooftops, thunder and lightning, earth-moving? These things can happen, but they are usually short-lived. The best kind of love is the gentle, comfortable, content kind. The kind when, if the other person went out of your life, you'd be utterly miserable.

Sit down and really think how you'd feel if you broke up. Write down the pros and cons if it helps. Compare those feelings with what you're feeling now, and go from there.

It's a good sign that there's lots of laughter, and lots of communication. It's not good that there seems to be a lot of mutual criticism, but if you both work on the negatives, you could be onto a good thing. The best kind of love is the kind that grows slowly, not the kind that hits you in the face. Eight months is such a short time to get to know anybody, including yourself.

Finding a partner in life is a bit like buying a house. If you get 80% of what you really want, and have to work to get the rest the way you want it, you're doing very well indeed.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2004 at 6:05PM
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Thanks daisyduckworth - a few things to think about. And glad to hear someone else thinks that 8 mo is a short time. Some of my closer friends describe to me that they're love was *observed* much earlier in their relationship ...
I feel like the 2+ years that I took off from relationships allowed me to get to know myself pretty good - and to be really happy with that! Now finding the insecurities of this relationship allow me to cherrish what I had before. I know that the grass isn't always greener, but sometimes I think of the *possibilities*. I wish I knew how it is to feel that something is truly right or not...

    Bookmark   June 11, 2004 at 7:05PM
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Hey there, joules. :o) You mentioned, "I don't exactly know why. I've been thinking of throwing in the towel." What I hear in your message is that you are starting to see the relationship more as it *is*, and less in terms of what it *could be.* :-)

Thinking in terms of what *could be* is a product of the hopes and dreams we women carry. After awhile, reality punctures through (or it should, anyway!) and we begin to see things as they really *are.* Sometimes the early stages of bliss protect us from the harsh reality that the other person may not be the Mr. Right we long for. But bliss can only last so long.

You sound like you're on the right track in paying attention to your instincts. Eight months is a reasonable amount of time to draw conclusions about a relationship, IMO.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2004 at 10:01PM
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I knew my last relationship was over before it really ended but didn't want to listen to that little voice inside me. I held on and said nothing hoping that love and affection would return. The biggest sign for me was the failure of communication. Somehow my words and actions lost all meaning so we couldn't talk even when I tried.

: )

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 4:11AM
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Michael has a good point. There is often a gap in time between dawning awareness that the relationship isn't working, and being able to take steps to do what's best. First the heart struggles, then the head must win out or we end up staying in unhealthy relationships. But the heart and the head don't usually start out on the same page.

It is a process to go through. You wouldn't want to make a rash decision on something so important, unless danger is a factor. Take the time you need, joules, to come to that place where you *know* what the right thing to do is.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 7:38AM
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DD says, "I'm wondering what you're really looking for. Fanfares, harps playing, starry eyes, scream-it-from-the-rooftops, thunder and lightning, earth-moving?"

My mind would be thinking the same thing, only of *him!* Perhaps his ego isn't satisfied with the admiration of just one woman? Or, maybe he's the kind of guy that can't make a commitment? (BEWARE OF NARCISSISTS--If he's a narcissist, run the other direction, and fast!!)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 7:47AM
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Personally, I think you'd have a really good idea of whether you're in love in eight months.

You wrote:

Anyway, I keep holding out for "how great it could be once he gets established in Something". and also mentioned career issues, so I'm wondering about his work situation.

Personally, I would never get involved with a man who wasn't working reasonably up to his abilities, unless he was between jobs for a short period of time and actively looking. Of course, I realize that people sometimes simply can't find a job, but I would use this as a general guideline.

You mention that girls are chasing him. That means nothing unless you think he's looking, too. He says the excitement is gone - have you asked him what he means by that and what he expects to be there isn't?

You said you're insecure about the relationship right now - and I guarantee you that shows. And insecurity, to men who are not yet committed (and often even those who are) usually makes you seem less attractive.

Plus, men are often hesitant to have the "where are we going" conversation, because they're not always sure of their own emotions, and because they think the conversation will last forever. I would encourage you to ask for, say, 15 minutes of his time to specifically discuss your issues. And prepare for that talk.

To answer your question about when a relationship is over, I'd say that it's when you stop working towards a common goal. With people who are casually dating, the goal may be simply to have fun. But in a couple who's more committed or married, it's generally trying to build a life together.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 3:21AM
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Thanks for the "thoughts" - it really is helpful to get some other insight. And some real inspiration from each of you - :-))))
I say that after 8 months that I don't know if I'm in love- but I do know. And I am (I think - ha). I just don't want to be the first to say it, especially since he is saying that he doesn't know (adamantly).
Yes joann, he isn't working to his capacity. That's just it, he is in school. Took him awhile to figure out what he was interested in enough to put his heart into an education. He won't graduate for another year. And I am a student again also, trying to change career choices after 15 yrs as an engineer. We has similar career paths in mind, but he just hasn't had ANY career yet (thus, the obvious age difference too).
Maybe the What-it-could-be is actually a figment of my imagination - and I've certainly made that mistake before. And I'll try to work on my insecurities - wow - that's a hard one to just DO.
Hope you all have a good day/night and thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 10:09PM
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