Let's say — for argument's sake — you're currently in a romantic relationship but a bit (or more than a bit) unsure about continuing it into the new year. You two made it through the holidays in survival mode, but now the togetherness is running on empty, at times not at all the "real thing" you dream of. Yet there's still the tug of the status quo, the comfort level of being part of a couple and the lingering fear of being (gasp) uncoupled and alone. Should you or shouldn't you test 2019 for the romantic bliss it might bring? Here you stand at the portal of a new year, a year loaded with possibilities. What to do? Well, I suggest you query yourself here, in total privacy, with only your instincts for company. Ready?
—First and foremost, can you be yourself around your partner? If not, time to head toward the exit.
—Are your major needs being met by this relationship? (The operative word is "major." I assume you know which ones are your big ones, as distinct from the small pesky ones.)
—As far as you can tell, are your partner's? (Bet you haven't thought about that too much.)
—When do you call your partner if your partner doesn't call you — after an hour, a day, a week?
—Are you being too tolerant, too flexible, too forgiving, too grateful for small favors?
—Do you feel less of a person, less important — in a word, diminished — because of your partner's attitude and treatment? How do you think your partner would answer the question? Who do you think is the major player in the relationship? How can you tell?
—When you are together, do you feel protected and cared about?
—Do you feel proud to be with your partner? Do you think your partner feels proud to be with you?
As for the answers, well, they're entirely yours to decide. At this moment, they're as honest as you can get. There's no pressure on you either way, so the answers should be brutally honest. They should make a deep imprint on your behavior toward your partner from this moment on. And in a way, that's the biggest present you can give yourself. Knowing where you stand with this relationship, how you truly feel about it, can free you up (dare I say liberate you?) to compare your present togetherness with being on your own.
A thought: You could discuss with your partner the possibility of seeing other people. But don't dare utter a word about that until (and unless) you yourself want open dating. The option deserves a lot of thought, and maybe you could hash it out with a few different friends. You might even toss ideas around with your mom and dad. Quaint notion, admittedly, but it could have a giant payoff: input from people who care about you and know you better than anyone ever will and who have a tad more life experience to back up their opinions. Think before you act. God bless.
DEAR READERS: We've uncovered a treasure-trove of "Single File" paperbacks — in perfect condition, ready to read. Send $15 and your address to: Susan Deitz, C/O Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. I'll send you a signed copy.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected]