By Ben Higgins
Most of my emails from blog readers fall into two categories. One half hopes to get involved with Generous International, and the other half seeks relationship advice. I welcome both. However, giving relationship advice feels a bit ironic considering, well, that I’m no expert.
I recently received an email asking me to discuss the biggest issues in failed relationships. Although I have limited experience, I’ve attempted to respond.
Work to figure out what broke
We can all blame others for relationship failures. Push the blame on someone else, and we’ll hold no responsibility — it’s an easy escape. But I’d like to think none of us want misguided behaviors to mark our lives.
Taking ownership of your choices — good and bad — is an admirable quality that leads to clarity.
The opposite is destructive. Until you accept responsibility for your actions, you’ll struggle to develop self-respect as well as the respect of others. And keep in mind: You’re not the first person who fell short in a relationship. You can make mistakes; we are allowed to mess up. But don’t waste time refusing to acknowledge your relational shortcomings.
Side note: I write about failed relationships outside of abuse. If physical or emotional abuse occurs in your relationship, you’re dealing with a different situation — one requiring help from loved ones and maybe even a professional.
Many people enter relationships to fill a void. But I believe the healthiest relationships are mutually beneficial, with each participant working to remain whole on his or her own.
During the honeymoon stage, a commitment feels easier. However, everyone needs to make deliberate choices and create healthy boundaries in order to maintain a healthy, long-term relationship. If either partner refuses to sacrifice and support each other, then the relationship could feel empty.
Cracks in a relationship may not be noticeable on the outside. Many people hide their cracks until they burst, and the whole relationship runs a muck. Personally, I seek to be in a healthy space in life before entering someone else’s, because filling a personal void with another person’s heart won’t lead to a healthy life in the end.
“Be you” to set yourself free
If we really want to be loved, then we have to let someone in. The best book I’ve read on this topic is Scary Close by Donald Miller. He begins with one of the most direct and true statements:
“We will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we’re willing to show our true selves to the people around us.”
This statement continues to hold me accountable. I’m a people-pleaser — and not always in a healthy, selfless way. My pleasing side pushes me to act a certain way for acceptance and admiration.
As I do this, I build relationships with people who never really know the true me, which forms a layer of disconnect. If we want to eliminate one of the largest relational issues, we must stop acting and start being our true selves.
What mask do you wear in front of those you love?
If you struggle with vulnerability, we suggest reading:
- Scary Close by Donald Miller
- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
- Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Image courtesy of ABC/Paul Hebert