A couple weeks ago I was browsing some of my favorite websites and came across an article that immediately caught my attention. I forgot where I saw the article, but I never forgot what I learned from it.
The article claimed to contain the one question that everyone in a relationship should ask themselves to know whether or not they should stay with their significant other. It seemed like a clickbait title, and I was hesitant to waste my time on such a ridiculous claim. But curiosity got the best of me.
So I clicked. And the question has been rocking my world since:
Do you accept your significant other as they are right now?
Another way of asking this might be: If absolutely nothing about your boyfriend or girlfriend’s personality, habits, beliefs, or traits ever changes, do you still love them, accept them, and want to stay in a committed relationship with them? Are their quirks and qualities, good or bad, deal-breakers for you? Or do you accept this person, flaws and all?
So often people develop a savior mentality. They fall for the wrong person, but because they love them they make excuses for them, or hold out hope that one day they’ll change. “Yeah, he drinks a little too much, but I’m sure I can convince him to drink less.” “Sure she’s a little co-dependent, but she’ll grow out of it eventually.” Or “I know we don’t believe the same things, but I’m sure we can overcome our differences.”
Unfortunately, this approach to dating doesn’t work. There’s simply no guarantee that they will change in the ways you want them to. And it’s not worth your time to wait around caring for someone who may never love and care for you in the ways you need.
My first serious boyfriend as an adult was charming, attractive, and always said the right things. Before I knew it, I had fallen for him. Hard. No mind that I was never his first priority, that he acted one way in front of me and another in front of everyone else, or that there were countless other red flags about him that should have alerted me to the fact that he didn’t match up with what I wanted in a partner. But I was blinded by love and never took a step back to honestly evaluate whether he was someone I actually wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
As much as I wish love was enough to make a relationship work, sometimes it just isn’t.
In the past month my sister has been proof of that—she ended an almost two-year relationship with a man she truly loved. But there were differences in how they thought and acted that she knew could no longer go unacknowledged—especially their differences in faith. She realized these differences would largely affect a future marriage and how they parented their kids one day. So as much as it hurt her to break up with him, she understood that they may never be on the same page. Waiting for him to change wasn’t worth the risk of that never happening.
This doesn’t mean you should go break up with your significant other just because he or she annoys you sometimes, or because you get frustrated with each other. But I encourage you to look at the big things that you’re not willing to compromise on—such as your religious beliefs, whether or not you want kids, or are comfortable with your significant other drinking, et cetera. Try to view your relationship with fresh eyes and evaluate whether the person in front of you is someone you can see yourself spending the rest of your life with.
When I asked myself that question about my own guy, the answer was a resounding yes! Sure I would love it if my boyfriend wasn’t always late to everything. And at times his sarcasm gets on my last nerve. But even if those things never change, I’m still committed to him. Because I love the core of who he is—his character and integrity, the way he loves people, the ease with which we interact and laugh and love. He has what I am looking for in a partner, despite his flaws.
Even if you’re scared of what your answer might be, I dare you to ask this question anyways. Because why settle for good, when you could have something great?