As a boy of eleven or twelve, Kellee Patterson’s “If It Don’t Fit, Don’t Force It” seemed like a no brainer. When my shoes hurt, it was time to have mom buy me a new pair. If my pants were too tight – I was constantly splitting open the backside seam – I’d need a new pair of them too. Whether it’s shoes, or pants or a relationship, as Kellee sang about, forcing means it’s no longer any good for you.
If you’re forcing a relationship, chances are it’s already dead. If you’re continually wondering whether you’re even in one, then it may never have been born.
There’s little sense in pursuing a friendship or relationship where both parties don’t approach it with nearly equal enthusiasm. Relationship-wise, the definition of life support is when one party works to develop or preserve an association the other person clearly has no interest in continuing.
(Btw, that’s JC’s personal definition. So if you use it, be sure to give due credit.)
Quite often, evidence of a diseased relationship surfaces long before a couple reaches the life support stage; one or both of the parties begins to show signs of disinterest.
He may be less talkative and have fewer things to say where at one time, he was a font of conversation. That’s assuming he shows any interest in communicating at all.
She may make herself available to meet or chat less often. You may notice her go off the grid unexpectedly or for extended periods of time. She may not reach out as much to wave hello, ask your whereabouts, share a “thinking about you,” a loving word or a kind thought.
Someone does those things when she genuinely is interested in and invested in participating in a relationship. If any of that’s missing, it’s intentional – it’s what your partner wants.
People ultimately do what they’re eager to do without ever being forced to do it. You need not ask anything more once you see the signs.
You may wonder about the symptoms. You may wonder why someone who once couldn’t wait to hear your voice now prefers to communicate by brief text messages. You may wonder why a person who once dangled on your every sentence would rather you use fewer words when you speak – the fewer the better. You may wonder why conversations that once flowed with ease are filled with many more silence gaps; one of you may be carrying the conversations.
When things change there always is a reason. Patterns disrupt on purpose. Signs and symptoms say the organism isn’t well.
Perhaps your partner is under a great deal of stress. Stressful circumstances like finances, or illness, or employment or family matters can preoccupy a person and divert you partner’s attention.
THAT’s understandable. And those conditions don’t necessarily warn of impending relationship death. If you both are committed, you can work through that.
If BOTH of you want it you can overcome.
The steeper hill to climb is when one of you has checked out without telling your mate. When she’s off chatting up other men, prospecting for the next Mr. Right, that’s a symptom of a sick relationship. If she’s trying to arrange out of town rendezvous with other men, that’s a certain sign the patient is dying.
Check that the insurance is in order, line up a mortician, pre-order the lilies and blow the dust off the burial plot; your relationship is terminally ill.
You can’t force what both you and she aren’t committed to sustaining. If you want it, but she obviously doesn’t, go ahead. Pull the plug.
© Copyright 2013, Jonathan Clarke, All rights reserved
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