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How to Never Fail at a Relationship Again

By October 7, 2014 March 31st, 2021 Psychology & Relationships

“You don’t lose or fail at anything by ending a relationship that doesn’t build or benefit you. You fail by not letting go of those things. You fail yourself by not moving forward.”

The above quote is a reader comment that perfectly summarizes this article. Unfortunately, most people are blind to the truth contained in this quote.

Most people believe breaking up is a failure, but they don’t stop to consider what this implies about success.

How You Define Relationship Failure is Really Important

If break ups equal failure, it also implies that success means not breaking up. If you think about this, you’ll realize that there are two possible outcomes with this perspective:

1) You stay with someone until you die, or they die.
2) You fail.

I don’t know about you, but I think there miiiight be some flaws with this perspective.

The main thing is that people have a tendency to avoid failure at all costs, even if it means enduring enormous levels of pain. Even when it’s totally irrational. Defining failure as breaking up leads to a dangerous internal conflict – when is it acceptable to walk away? When is it giving up too early and “failing”?

After almost four years of relationship counselling, here’s what I’ve come up with:

“A successful relationship is two people contributing to each other’s lives in a meaningful way.”-Click to Tweet

Sometimes this will be a very brief period in your lives. Sometimes, it will be until death.

A failed relationship can be one that lasts for your entire life.

A successful relationship can be one that lasts for a single date.

As long as we continue to narrowly define the success or failure of a relationship based on togetherness or separation, we force one another into making decisions that don’t reflect our best interests or the best interests of our romantic partners.

Relationship Failure Has Nothing to Do With Breaking Up

The majority of people I ask tell me the goal of dating is to find the one. BIG PROBLEM!

If your goal is to find the one, your attachment is to the outcome of staying together rather than making a positive impact on the person you’re staying together with.

In other words, you’re going to focus on staying together instead of focusing on fulfilling your needs and your partner’s needs.

Figure out what you want from a relationship, and then date with that intent. Maybe you want adventure. Maybe you want great sex. Maybe you start out wanting one thing, and this changes to something else as you mature and develop as a person.

Realistically, most of your desires don’t take a lifetime to fulfill. A successful lifelong relationship will only work if both people are constantly changing to meet the changing needs and desires of their partner.

Dating is how you discover another person’s desires and if they align with yours, and you stop dating if you discover that they don’t. You wouldn’t call that a failure, would you?

A relationship is just dating over a long period of time.

Look what happens to married couples who stop dating – they end up in my office complaining that there’s no passion, no sex, and no intimacy. They say it feels like a friendship, and I can’t help but laugh. Of course it does… two people living together and not dating is a friendship.

Why is it that people who go on two dates and don’t continue haven’t failed, but those who go on two hundred and don’t continue have? Where is the line?

There isn’t one. Be with someone for as long as you fulfill each other’s needs and desires, or as long as you’re happy and willing to change so that you can.

If you want to change to meet each other’s developing needs, go for it. If you don’t want to or are incapable of doing so, don’t feel bad. You don’t lose or fail at anything by ending a relationship that doesn’t build or benefit you. You fail by not letting go of those things. You fail yourself by not moving forward.

Ryan

Author Ryan

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Avatar Sarah Lund says:

    I know when it’s over. Especially if they’ve stopped communication with me, and we all know how important communication is, to keep a relationship going. It wouldn’t be fair to lead someone on, if you don’t want them. I more or less get the hint, but that’s only happened to me once. It probably was my fault, as well. As I only stopped going to visit him, because he told me he didn’t know what he wanted. I took that as him trying to tell me he was just using me. He made me feel like crap. And if a divorce can make some act so confusing, I dread to think about how they’ll ever treat another woman. It was all very well, him trying to support me, but I wasn’t looking for support, I was just getting on with my life. I also wasn’t looking for another man to be with, just yet. He unexpectedly tried to manipulate me. I don’t think much of him. He’s a bit of a dodgy character. Always was. And what sort of person, doesn’t care if they ruin the friendship circle, by doing this kind of thing, right in front of their noses? The rest of our mutual friends have witnessed it going on. He’s not as exceptional as he likes to think he is. If I ever want a man that looks like him, I could easily find one in the nearest pub. I can do better, and I will 🙂

    • Ryan Ryan says:

      Happy to hear you ended it things if your relationship wasn’t lifting you up. Sounds like he wasn’t very interested in working on it with you

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