We Have Hope but often End up with Mediocrity

couple-relationship-problemMany of us over a certain age have had enough experience of relationships to last a lifetime. Partners have come and gone and time has gone by even quicker. According to recent studies, there are more people living alone in their fifties and sixties now than ever before. Many have come out of dysfunctional marriages and relationships and have given up hope of finding someone new. Many will choose to stay alone.

This is of course, not a situation that is exclusively felt by this age group. Much younger people also struggle to find compatibility with a significant other. My practice is full of such people who are making an attempt to patch things up after being together for a while. Much of the time, these couples have mostly given up and have accepted that the relationship is in such a deep rut that it seems impossible to save. Yet they carry on, hoping things will change or a miracle will happen and their partner {or they} will change. Often, it never happens.These are the ones who have actually recognised that there might be an issue to deal with. How many people never get this far and just accept that is just the way it is?..they accept mediocrity and live with it. This is as high as their expectations ever get.

However, when that relationship is with someone who is self-centered or to the extreme, someone totally focussed on self, then it is harder to wonder why someone would stay in such a relationship. We can talk about codependency and of course, this is a factor but sometimes it goes deeper than that. People just don’t make the choices that they need to make and it is about choice and indeed risk. The risk of leaving a bad relationship and finding something better is tempered with the fear of finding something worse or being alone. So they stay, complain about their lot but take no decisive action to change it. They allow themselves to be taken advantage of and again accept that this is part of it.

Let’s look at the start of a relationship. None of us are that guarded in the throes of new love, we don’t see the “red flags” that could point us to the “real” person who will certainly appear as time goes on. Someone once said to me if you took notice of all the red flags you see, you would never have a relationship with anyone. While there is a certain truth in this, we tend to completely disregard them at times and we have all done it. Now we have to say at this point that there are, of course, different levels of said “red flags” and some could just be to do with being vulnerable around a new situation. However, if they are associated with abuse, excessive anger, substance abuse, complete dysfunction around finances and their view of the world, maybe these “flags” wave a little more and might be taken into account a bit more. Believe me, I have treated people where at least one or sometimes all of these factors where present and they still stayed in the relationship.

Even this sometimes is not enough for us to make a decision and we soldier on hoping against hope that this is the “one”, the “real thing” even when we know it isn’t deep down. It makes you wonder sometimes why we put ourselves through this in the name of love. It is mainly because we lose our sense of realism in the early days of a relationship. Reality tells us constantly that we must wait quite some time before this “real” person we have started a relationship with comes out. Reality tells us that things will certainly change and they certainly won’t stay the same {this doesn’t need to be negative} and “red flags” that we see, while not necessarily always deal breakers, must be taken into account.

A very good relationship is built on honesty, respect, trust and the mutually meeting of each other’s needs. If we look hard enough at the start of a relationship, we will certainly find genuine evidence whether it is there or not. IF, we can keep our heads.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies with a speciality in CBT techniques. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr. Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who find taking therapy online as convenient and tailored for their needs. More Details HERE

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