Thursday, July 26, 2007

Familiar misery

Due to the goings on of a colleague, I pondered yesterday why people choose to stay in unhappy relationships. I’m not talking about physically or even emotionally abusive relationships, but just plain unhappy ones. The person in question has never uttered a positive word about her boyfriend or their future (while frequently uttering numerous negative words) but yet seems completely determined to stay with him for the rest of her life.

Why? I just do not get it. Why would someone resign themselves to a life of misery, disappointment, and could-have-beens?

One reason may be the human desire for familiarity. We are an animal of routine. We thrive on the familiar, the comfortable. It seems that we are more willing to live in familiar misery than to risk loneliness while we search for happiness. Or maybe miserable relationships are the only type we know. Maybe our role models for relationships were as such. But the few relationships you know do not constitute a substantial part of the whole.

These people also seem to ignore the following: for the most part, people do not change. And if they do, the motivation comes from within, not because their partner or friend drove them to change so that they would be more tolerable to them. You cannot just pick any human off the streets and then mold them into your soulmate. On the other hand, you cannot be too picky. When it is right, it will feel right, and you will be overcome with a tide of happiness so all-consuming that the little imperfections you witness in your partner will become characteristics to cherish.

Oh, and anyone that thinks getting married or having children will magically fix their relationship is a fool. Marriage is a serious commitment not to be entered into lightly. Divorce is not some easy exit if things do not work out. And kids. Good grief. Anyone who thinks kids make relationships easier doesn’t have any. Having children will challenge the strongest of relationships, let alone those struggling to stay afloat.

I did not have a girlfriend from grade 8 until I met my current wife in my first year of university. That was a full five years without a girlfriend. Sure, I was miserably lonely at times, but I knew that when the right one came along, it would all be worth it, and it was. But all along, I knew that no matter what, I would never settle for second best. I would not resign myself to a life of misery just to be with someone, anyone.

And fear not. That person with whom you can live a life of happiness is out there. But you will never find them if you stay trapped in a hopeless relationship. Have respect for yourself. You deserve better.

The only way to find happiness is to go looking for it and to not settle for anything less until you find it. It is out there. And when you find it, all your hard work will be duly rewarded. Trust me. I know from experience.

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