Reeyuh has asked the question, “How do you know someone, or something is worth fighting for?”
That actually made me think…
And think some more.
Yes, how do I know?
Now the answer I may give right now may sound very simplistic to you.
Maybe it’s because I’m not completely in love right now that I may sound so damn logical.
But right now, here’s how I assess if something is ever worth fighting for:
First, I look into the situation and ask myself, “What do I want?“
We have a lot of different relationships in our lives.
And by relationship, I’m not just talking about your significant others, but also talking about your relationships with friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.
Everybody you relate to consitute a relationship, be it a deep, serious one or a shallow one.
Sometimes, relationships work so well, while others make you wonder whether or not it’s worth fighting for.
You ask yourself, Is this relationship worth to keep?
A lot of people look at the other person to determine whether or not they’re worth fighting for.
He is cute — check.
He has money — check.
Oh, and everybody expects me to like him — check.
It seems that the other person’s or society’s opinion of them determine their reactions to that person. They are so hung up on material, outward things that they forgot to ask themselves, “What do I want?“
“What do I want? Am I getting what you want from the relationship?”
Ah, questions we often forget to ask ourselves during the flush of sweet love.
However, these are important questions. Please, read them again.
Because if you don’t know what you want, you merely settle for what you can get.
And most of the time, when you settle for less than what you think you deserve, you end up being miserable and unhappy because your own needs aren’t being fulfilled.
Plus, your confidence will sink down to the pits.
It’s a self-esteem issue.
The refusal to admit you’ve made a mistake causes you to stay in a relationship that’s clearly not working.
Because of this, you force yourself to rationalize why you stay in the relationship and little by little, you convince yourself that this is what you are worthy of.
Your self-concept continues to drop until you feel that the only thing you do have is this relationship — and you’ll be damned if you lose that too!
If you don’t know what you want, you’ll probably get less than what fulfills you. Your standards drop more and more, until finally, all you think is worthy is a relationship that is clearly unsatisfying and miserable.
Let me share with you a concrete example:
A few days ago, I was talking to my good girl friend on the phone.
From her voice, you can hear that she was miserable, up to the point of crying over the phone.
Her boyfriend of 5 months (her first boyfriend at 31 years old btw) has a tendency to be critical of her habits.
Over these past few months, they have argued about him thinking that she should sleep early, that her 9PM to 10PM dance classes end too late at night and other blah, blah, blahs.
God, frankly, I think he sounds just like my dad who tries to control everything I do, and criticizes me when I don’t see things my way.
I already have a dad like this — I don’t need a boyfriend who’s critical of me as well.
Personally, I think this guy’s meddling too much.
Anyway, not my boyfriend so let’s get back to the story.
The most serious thing is, despite the fact that she LOVES kids to death, he doesn’t want to have them.
And so she’s miserable, because she wants to have kids. She just LOVES kids, and would love it if she had some of her own in the future, but unfortunately, this guy’s taking a hard stance.
However, my girlfriend has a problem that I don’t yet.
Like most Taiwanese women, she thinks being 31-years old, she’s no longer hot stuff, and if she dumps this guy, it won’t be easy for her to find a new one this late in the game.
“There are just too many women to men here in Taiwan,” she moaned. “It would be easier for him to find a replacement than I. And I want to be in a relationship.”
Forgive me for saying this, but nobody should be that desperate for a relationship so that he/she will stay even if it’s not really working for them.
That’s why asking what you want is important — because relationships are for the long run — and you have to ask yourself whether this person can really satisfy your long-term goals, or are you just wasting your time with this person when there’s another person better suited for you.
Regardless, we have a strong tendency to rationalize our decision to stay, even if we’re miserable in the process (I can sock the guy’s face by making my friend this unhappy).
“I can still bear his critical attitude towards me,” she continued. “As for kids, I’m torn. I do so want to have kids, but he’s adamant that he doesn’t want any.“
Knowing that it’s not my life, I can only remind her what’s important.
“Ask yourself, ‘What do I want?'” I told her. “And get your answers from there. In life, there are no right or wrong answers. Just whether or not you are willing to compromise your values and beliefs for the sake of the relationship — and how much you’re willing to sacrifice.“
No, there are no free meals.
For something that you get, there’s always a price.
Hence, if she wants to stay in this relationship, she’d have to sacrifice her want to have her own children, and to bear his constant nagging.
And there is NOTHING wrong with that.
It’s just a question on whether you’re able to accept it or not.
For me, “I can still bear it,” does not seem to be a good enough answer to determine how long I’ll stay in a relationship.
I’ve seen my mom bear it.
I’ve seen great women bear it.
And I myself have bore it.
Only resulting to men taking them for granted and being more of an ass than they should be.
Now, my stand is, if this person isn’t really giving you what you want, that’s okay. It just shows that you guys don’t really share compatible long-term goals, and yes, it’s okay to walk away.
Sure, it hurts.
It’ll probably hurt like hell.
But think long term.
Why force something when the other person ain’t that willing to go half-way as well?
Here’s the thing, I’ve noticed women have a tendency to overcompensate for her guy’s shortcomings.
We tend to work HARDER, and put more energy/effort to a relationship that is clearly not working.
As a result, we grow more exhausted, bitter and miserable.
We try to think on how to make it work, and goddammit, we’re gonna make it work!
And what happens when you force the issue?
Look back to your life, has your compensating been able to change a man or make you guys any happier?
Look, once you start compensating for a man not doing his part (or half-assing) a relationship, you’re just overlooking the reality on where your guy is at.
Over-compensating is merely a temporary scotch tape fix, trying to cover up or escape the recognition of something deeper.
In other words, I have no qualms in working hard in a relationship when two people are dancing. It always take two to tango, right?
However, once you start sacrificing more of what YOU want (thus it’s vital to know what you want), and it seems that you’re the only one sacrificing and compromising, heck, you seriously have to ask yourself, “Is it still worth it?”
And most of the time, the answer is no, if we just open our eyes to the reality of our situation.
These past few months, I just walk away.
Yes, I just let go, and move on.
I squash that urge to ask, “Why doesn’t he like me as much as I like him? How will we make this work?“
Instead, I ask myself, “Is this guy interested in the type of relationship I want? Is he able to fulfill my least basic requirements?“
If not, as hard as it is, I walk away.
Because if he cannot satisfy my most basic requirements right now (take for my friend, the desire to have kids), he most likely won’t change his mind in the future (despite all our praying), and will make me unhappy in the future.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about being picky; when I talk about basic requirements, I’m not talking about material wealth, a cute face or whatever.
Instead, I am talking about basic solid minimum requirements that I want in a relationship (e.g., in my case, I want a guy who has integrity, is loyal (none of the guys I choose will cheat or sayonara) and had a good solid upbringing).
And if the guy isn’t even fulfilling these basic requirements, how can he fulfill my long-term needs?
And sorry for saying this, but you ALWAYS have a choice.
I really don’t believe that you should just settle for what you’ve got, because you don’t have options up in line.
Case in point, I found out that when I’m still hung up on somebody, the possibilities of finding a new man/woman decreases significantly.
Heck, it was only after I’ve moved on from my past loves that I start getting attention from other guys!
Life’s funny that way.
So there is no harm or shame in walking away from the dance floor, when the other person stops dancing.
And the funny thing is, mature guys who you probably want to be with long-term, have a tendency to go back after it’s clear that they can’t bully you around.
When you are in control of YOUR life and world, it gives guys a very strong signal that yes, you are clear about what you want, and if he can’t give you that, it’s okay.
You can walk away and that’s fine. No hard feelings.
Ironically, guys find this very attractive. 🙁
In my case, I’ve seen guys come back around. What’s better is that they’ve already done the proper legwork to make them a better partner, in a way that we ourselves by our own could never have made them change.
For example, Aussie guy and I have been in regular contact, and our relationship’s way better now than it was before. He can call me and not feel weird about it, and vice-versa. I know if I ever need his help, he’ll do his darnest to be there.
My friend Ann’s the same thing.
Her boyfriend has been pressuring her to have sex, but she’s firm in keeping it until after she’s married. And by gosh, at the age of 34, you have to imagine that if she was like other women, she’d be sweating bullets by now. He’s asked her multiple times, and finally in their anniversary in HK, they finally got it out in the open.
He wanted to.
So for two weeks, they were at the standstill.
He would ignore her via MSN, while she, though unhappy, was determined not to compromise what she thinks is really important to her.
Finally, somebody gave in.
He came back to her, asked for forgiveness in being an ass, and told her that yes, he respects her and her wishes to hold it until after marriage. In actuality, though his little head was forcing the issue, his bigger head held her in higher esteem, because Ann didn’t compromise her values just to keep a relationship.
But you may ask, what if they don’t come back?
Well, that’s okay too…
Because it weeds out guys who DO need to go away, because they ain’t going to get their act around in the first place, or just don’t want to.
And why do you want to be with a guy like that?
So in the end, it’s about asking yourself, “What do I want? Am I getting what I want in a relationship?”
Think hard about this. It’s very important.
Then, follow it up by, “Am I willing to compromise what I want so I can remain in a relationship? How much will I ciompromise? How important is this person to me that I’ll sacrifice even more than I am willing to?”
Remember, there is nothing wrong with compromising.
If the person means a lot to you like a friend, a parent or career, it is probably worth putting more effort into maintaining the relationship.
However, go back to the first question, note your limits and figure out your treshold of compromising.
As I’ve said, there’s no free lunch… so accept whatever cost you may incur if you sacrifice what you want for a relationship’s sake.
In addition, look beside you and see if that other person is working hard and doing his part in a relationship as well. I think I wrote something about this in my old entry, Breakup Season.
If being in that relationship is not making you or the other person satisfied then it might be worth reconsidering how much time you spend with them. It may be worth considering what you want from the relationship.
So in the end, it’s about knowing what you want, and what you’re willing to give up.
How about you? How would you answer Reeyuh’s question?