Changing your mind about love and your relationship? “Why” is the easy part of the question.
Why might you change your mind about someone you fell in love with?
Well, it’s because everything changes. Tides turn. Rivers run. The moon waxes and wanes. And people change.
Over the course of your relationship, both you and your partner have changed — for better or for worse—and your relationship has developed as well.
But, how did you change your mind about someone you fell in love with?
Everything changes — including people and how we feel about those people.
“I thought I’d found my soulmate.”
“How did my partner turn out to be so wrong for me? How could I have been so mistaken?”
Stop for a moment and pause to consider that you’ve changed. Next, consider that your partner has also changed. In fact, your relationship has changed over time, as well.
Everything changes over time and periodic assessment of the well-being of your relationship is critical to maintaining the quality of your relationship or choosing to end it without angry drama.
Prior to starting the process, you need to accept the thoughts in your brain and the emotions in your body. Don’t attempt to “dismiss” them because no one can successfully “dismiss” thoughts and emotions.
Those thoughts and emotions banging around your brain and body will stay with you, no matter how hard you try to sweep them under the rug. Don’t waste your time or energy in the effort. Resistance is futile.
So, if you’re changing your mind about love, here are 3 steps to evaluate if you should maintain the relationship or end it.
1. Evaluate what’s working and what’s not working in your relationship.
This step is a “relationship-over-time analysis” and entails four pairs of questions.
First, you need to evaluate the positives in your partner.
“What was great about my partner?” Remember that head-over-heels sensation of “falling in love” as you were getting to know each other.
“What is still great about my partner?” These could be the same qualities you loved back then and still love today.
Then, evaluate the negatives.
“What was never great about my partner?” Remember when you decided that you could live with some of your partner’s “quirks.” Maybe those quirks were cute for a while.
“What is not great about my partner?” Maybe your partner lost some old quirks and developed some new ones.
Evaluate the positives in your relationship.
“What was great about our relationship?” Remember the potential future together you imagined? It was brilliant, wasn’t it?
“What is still great about our relationship?” Even if you’re choosing to end this relationship, there are still some good parts — if there weren’t, you would have ended this relationship sooner.
Then, evaluate the negatives in your relationship.
“What was not great about our relationship?” Remember those interactions that gave you pause, even in the early days of your relationship.
“What is not great about our relationship?” Be more specific than “everything.” “Everything” offers no insight.
2. Assess the state of the union.
Well, “something” happened, didn’t happen, or continued to happen. What is that “something”? What brought you to the point of reconsidering your relationship?
“Something” could be a discrete incident. For example, “We had a disagreement about [insert issue], and it turned into an ugly argument about [insert different issue] and a whole lot of other issues besides.”
“Something” could be smaller in nature but repeated over time like, “My partner has this ‘insignificant’ habit that’s not insignificant to me. I’m sick and tired of it.”
“Something” could be something that’s missing, that raises doubts, such as, “My partner used to be so attentive and we spent time together. Now that no longer happens. I am being taken for granted.”
Whatever the cause, your mind started generating doubting and distrustful thoughts. And that’s what brings you to the point of reconsidering this relationship.
3. Consider all possible outcomes and walk into your future.
There are three and only three possible outcomes: You continue your relationship as it is, you end your relationship, or you renegotiate your relationship with your partner.
If you choose to continue the relationship as it is, you can stop reading here.
You may not be completely “in love” with your partner, but you’re not completely miserable and your relationship is satisfying enough.
Really, who wants to invest the time, energy, and effort into building another relationship?
If you end the relationship, go about it with honor and empathy.
If you choose to end the relationship, the next action to take is to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.
Let them know what’s changed for you — it could be you who grew, them who changed, or your interactions as a couple that failed.
Be straight and kind. After all, this is someone you cared deeply about in the past.
Be forgiving. Don’t hammer your partner with past sins or other evidence that your partner is a flawed human being.
Don’t punish your partner. If your differences are “irreconcilable,” give yourself the gift of ending the relationship as harmoniously and graciously as possible.
You can also decide to renegotiate your relationship.
If you decide to renegotiate your “relationship agreement,” review the questions in the first step.
This time, write down your answers. Doing so will help you clarify what you want and will help you keep your focus while negotiating.
Start by asking your partner the same questions you answered for yourself.
Be curious. Be non-judgmental. Listen with an open heart. You will surely hear answers that surprise you or ones that hurt you.
Listen with compassion for your partner and listen with compassion for yourself. Be forgiving and self-forgiving.
With a clear understanding of your needs, wants, and desires and a clear understanding of your partner’s needs, wants, and desires, negotiate in good faith.
This will lead to a “relationship agreement” that honors you both and that you both can respect, enjoy, and even love.
Continue to discuss “the state of the union” with your partner over many conversations.
It took time for you to become dissatisfied and your relationship to falter. It will take time and practice for your relationship to re-balance.
Wherever and whenever you are in a relationship, continually reassess your relationship with your partner.
You may determine that your relationship no longer serves you well and it’s time to move on, or you may make the effort to maintain and grow your relationship.
The choice is yours.