Even in the most committed, loving relationships, conflicts can occur that cause us to ask, “Should I stay?” And whether you’re in a satisfactory relationship or not, being cooped up together during the Coronavirus Crisis can build extreme tension.
Despite our biggest hopes and our best intentions, relationships can be the most challenging parts of our lives, causing terrible strife and stress. That stress becomes compounded during extended periods of time together (like in quarantine). And the hard part is, this can happen in both healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Whatever your situation, you probably will need some time to delve into the current state of your relationship and what the best choice is for you.
Reading through these 7 reasons to stay in a relationship might help you better understand your needs, hopes, and boundaries, and what the future of your relationship may hold.
Reason 1: You might be in a rough patch.
People tend to meet and commit when life is steady for both partners. When unexpected troubles occur like losing a job, experiencing a death in the family, or mental health struggles, you must relearn the dynamic of your relationship in these new circumstances.
If you’re asking yourself “Should I stay?” during a rough patch, don’t call it quits just because your outside circumstances have changed. Give life time to settle again. Think of this challenge as an opportunity for you to better understand your partner, and vice versa.
Reason 2: The grass is rarely greener on the other side.
When things get particularly hard with a partner, it’s easy to fantasize about life with someone else. You may think another person will make you happier, better suit you, and better understand your needs.
The truth is, the same problems often follow us from relationship to relationship, so make an effort to address them now. Even if your relationship does end, this effort will make you and your future relationships stronger if you do the work to address deep-rooted issues.
Reason 3: You may be rushing this decision.
Taking time to sort out your thoughts is essential, so do not make any abrupt decisions. You have invested time and energy into your partner and into the relationship up to this point. Try to put the time and energy the relationship deserves into figuring out where you are with it now.
Reason 4: You want more excitement.
Renowned sex and relationship therapist Esther Perel wrote the book on longterm commitment, with Mating in Captivity, published in 2006. In the book, she explores a set of issues that married couples commonly face: feelings of boredom, monotony, and routine, plus a lack of desire for one another after many years.
And these issues suck! You might wonder where your enthusiasm and excitement for each other has gone, and if it means there’s something wrong with the relationship. You certainly might wonder if you should stay in the relationship
The good news is, nearly every couple in a longterm relationship goes through something similar, according to Perel. While it is tempting to just start again with someone new, the honeymoon phase is just that — a phase. And, you may well find yourself back with this same feeling after a few years — this time, with someone new.
Instead of thinking a new person will solve your problems, try to work through the issues at hand with your current partner. Perel’s book and podcast are a great place to start.
Reason 5: Leaving feels easier than communicating.
If confronting your issues feels like the worst thing in the world, breaking up might seem like a relatively comfortable solution — you avoid getting into the nitty gritty of what is bothering you, altogether.
But maybe it’s worth asking yourself again: “Should I stay?” As we’ve stated before, the problem is that these issues often do not end with the relationship, since they are rooted inside of us. You may be letting go of a stellar person just to avoid being honest about your needs.
Dr. Brené Brown, the lauded shame and vulnerability researcher, explains that the root of courage actually means sharing all of yourself. Much of her work deals with openly communicating, despite how scary it can feel.
Brown stresses the importance of expressing your needs, as well as establishing boundaries, in order to live without resentment.
Being vulnerable with your partner and voicing your concerns is a huge step in creating a healthy relationship and learning from conflict. Try not to be afraid of conflict, and don’t let it stand in the way of you and a happy partnership.
Reason 6: Loving is an art.
The brilliant writer Erich Fromm wrote a treatise on love in 1956 that still holds many keys to unlocking The Art of Love. In it, he suggests that loving is not just something that happens to us. It is something we must actively engage in, and practice, to have the best experience of it. We have to work to let love prosper.
Fromm writes: “If we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering.”
He means that love is not meant to be easy, and the initial, effortless spark often fades; so it is only normal that we need to put in effort, as with any craft, to continue “standing” in love.
If you haven’t yet looked at your relationship as a piece of art you have to regularly build, create, and sculpt, then that might be a reason to stay in a relationship and give things another shot.
Reason 7: Love is work.
The esteemed writer bell hooks writes along the same philosophical lines as Erich Fromm, in her 2000 examination of love, All About Love: New Visions. She writes that “love is an action, and a choice” and that we ought to reframe our idea of love as something that we do, rather than as something that happens to us. She proposes that “love” should be a verb, not a noun.
Much of her writing revolves around empathy towards our partners, and ourselves, and how part of the work of love relationships involves acceptance and understanding of flaws.
While some dealbreakers may indeed be anti- reasons to stay in a relationship, most everyone has some flaws that cannot be changed. On this topic, hooks says, “Accepting someone as they are may mean also that you have to accept that they can’t be what you want them to be and I think that’s really hard for us. We want to make people be what we want them to be.”
Whatever your choice, we hope that you take time with your decision. There may be a lot of reasons to stay in your relationship, or your hunch in asking “Should I stay?” might be right. That’s not for us to say, but if you want more concrete guidance, you still have options.
Remember that resources like one-on-one or couples therapy can help a great deal, as well as support and opinions from your peers here in a Supportiv chat.
If there’s a chance you may be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, the above reasons to stay in a relationship may not apply.
Abusers like to make their victims believe they are being “too choosy” or demanding too much. This is a form of gaslighting and can be extremely toxic both to the victim and the relationship.
Here are some resources to check out if you think you may be in an abusive relationship situation: