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Good Relationships Are Usually Hard After a While, Not at the Beginning

·489 words·3 mins

Her new relationship is a nightmare. An unmitigated nightmare.

She’s been single for a long time, so there’s a novelty to having someone there when she needs them — anyone.

Because we live in a culture where it’s far too frequent for couples to all partner off and leave single folks on their own.

You know that old song… The cheese stands alone.

She was tired of being the cheese. And so was he. So they got together.

And she’s been so thrilled to have someone, anyone, that she’s been willing to look past a lot of problems that jump out immediately as red flags.

But she’s starting to have some doubts, and major ones. And she asks me what I think.

“I think what you’ve shared with me is all very troubling,” I say. “I’m concerned about you. I don’t think any of this is healthy for you.”

“Ouch,” she says.

“Sorry,” I say.

“Don’t be,” she replies. “I told you to be honest with me, and you are.”

I nod. “And I know it’s not what you want to hear… but from where I am, looking at you both and seeing how unhappy you are already, I just get this feeling that the two of you aren’t even very compatible.”

“Why do you say that?” she asks.

“It’s not supposed to be this hard,” I tell her.

She’s confused by this. “But wait… I thought relationships were supposed to be hard. I heard it so many times growing up: ‘relationships are work.’ So the fact that I’m having to work at this, that’s not necessarily a bad sign, is it?”

“Well, when you’re only a month in, it’s a bad sign.” I tell her that good relationships are usually hard after a while, not at the very beginning. While it’s possible to run into miscommunication, small hiccups at the start, that if they’re not minor and immediately and easily resolved, it doesn’t bode well for the partnership long term.

Because people tend to have their most flattering view of the relationship at the beginning. If it doesn’t seem flawless or near-flawless to you at the beginning, that’s usually a bad sign.

I tell her every relationship can have rough spots. But usually not that soon. A good relationship is nearly always rather easy in the beginning — for the first year or two.

She thanks me for the talk.

I don’t know what she’s going to do with the information. I’ve been in her shoes myself. When in those shoes, I ignored the early warning signs. And I stayed in a relationship for a decade that followed the same pattern. One that ended up hurting us both way more than it would have had I realized in the beginning that we weren’t as compatible as we both wanted to be.

Whatever she decides to do (or not do) isn’t up to me. But I’ve said my piece.


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