You made it. The conditions were rough yet you still accomplished what seemed like an impossible climb out of your own dysfunction in your relationship.
You went through all the healing, growing, learning, and evolving you could, and may have even given your partner the ultimatum to shape up or ship out so that your relationship had no choice but to shift into something new or fall apart completely.
You’ll never go back to the way it was. Is the relationship now “saved”?
That’s the real question. Think about why you got together in the first place. Are your needs still the same ones they were then?
When you first connect with someone you want to be closer to, you discover all the characteristics about them that compliment you. And you realize all the wonderful qualities that just feel right.
What’s not so obvious are the dysfunctions that are also complimentary. These are the qualities that start to reveal themselves later on in the relationship. For example, if you are kind and generous by nature, and they are needy and dependent by nature, everything is going to feel “right” at first, even though the relationship could be leading to codependency.
But what happens when one or both of you heal and grow out of your dysfunction? Will love will reveal itself to be true to either or both of you? Or will you come to a new realization of the truth that what you thought was love was something else? Learning who you are after the healing is the hard part because sometimes you find out there is no longer compatibility.
This is a good thing in the sense that you are shifting out of dysfunction and into a healthier place for both of you. But of course, this new place leads to new thoughts and perceptions about your present and future situation. You could find yourself wondering if what you have is “real” and good as it once was. Or, was it all based on dependencies and dysfunctions that no longer exist? Or is one of you dependent while the other wants to be with someone who is independent?
A lot of questions arise to incite reflection and introspection, which is how you come to a new place in your mind:
- Is the relationship better?
- Do you feel just as in love or more in love than ever?
- Have you grown out of love because you grew out of old wants and needs?
Don’t fall into the crab mentality where one of you wants to rise up and out of dysfunction but the other keeps pulling you back in. Crabs do this but people shouldn’t! The metaphor comes from the observation of crabs in a bucket. When you put a bunch of crabs in a bucket, each one of them on its own could easily climb out. But as one climbs out, another tries to climb out too using the first crab as a ladder. That second crab then pulls both of them back down, causing both of them to stay in the bucket. Every attempt at getting out of the bucket is thwarted by the other crabs.
A relationship built on the crab mentality is not a happy one. If you are unhappy more than you are happy in your relationship, and you feel like a crab that keeps getting dragged back into a bucket of dysfunction, it might be time to consider some harder realizations. It doesn’t mean your relationship is automatically doomed to succeed, it just means you might want to free yourself from it for a while so that you can experience it as something new, without some of the painful history that may have built up. Sometimes you have to get out of the relationship so that you can see it from another point of view.
Of course, if your relationship is built on the premise of helping each other out of the bucket, and you still have feelings for your partner, then maybe it’s not too late. Maybe you can continue along a path of healing and growth to get to a whole new level of bonding and support. After all, with the healing and growth that you’ve already done, you might be able to go pretty far as two new people in the relationship.
But if you feel pulled down every time you try to lift yourself up, you may need a running start to get out of the bucket once and for all.