Moises: We are so different from each other

·4 min read

JENNY: Hi, Singlestalk. Have you seen the movie, “Starting Over Again?” It’s a romantic comedy about two lovers—an architecture student, Ginny, and a history professor, Marco. They initially brought out the best in each other. But eventually, she realized that her own pursuits were different from his. Thus, she rejected his marriage proposal and left the country to work on her Masters. I’m in a similar situation. My boyfriend just proposed. I accepted it. Given all the elaborate stuff done plus with our family and friends in attendance, I didn’t want us to go viral. But the truth is I’ve been seriously considering breaking up with him. He lacks ambition. I wanted to pursue a scholarship abroad while he is content just being a team lead. And he thinks I’m a smartass. He’d often ask why can’t I simply count my blessings? I am. And he’s fast sliding off that list.

DJ: I watched the movie again to get a better feel of what you’re going through. There really are relationships built on shared feelings that eventually reach a fork road. The people in it need very different things out of life. I was with someone whose happiness no longer included me. In all honesty, I want to tell you to stay. But I also recognize that while opposites attract, they don’t always have staying power. Contrasting life essentials tend to stand out and become bigger and bigger over time. Essentials are difficult to change because they make people who they are. We can respect differences but we can’t force change. Have you heard about irreconcilable differences as a cause for divorce? How should you then go about making the necessary changes?

First is to think carefully about what you need out of a relationship. Think about what his needs are too. In relationships, knowing what we don’t want seems to be easier than recognizing what we do want. Have a clear picture of your own non-negotiables in the relationship. In case you have not thought about it yet. How similar are you in your financial goals, priorities in the world, in your core beliefs? Are your non-negotiables falling by the wayside just to keep the relationship going? It’s like a toothache. It’s not showing on X-rays but you know it’s there. You already have an idea of what needs to change.

Second is to imagine what your life might look like without him in it. Would you be happier? Freer? Healthier? More balanced? Less stressed? If any of these apply, then ask yourself why. Every relationship will face certain storms. Chances are you can withstand the test of time much better when you are with someone with similar goals and thought process. Romantic comedies often include characters who find partners with traits that they lack. But in real life? People are willing to make some sacrifices in the beginning because they genuinely like the other person. But because one person gives up more than the other, the relationship becomes out of balance. And whoever believes all a couple needs is love has an IQ low enough to believe that. But seriously, the one who gives up too much usually gets exhausted and unhappy.

Third is to work together so that you are both gaining something you need. Talk about it. Making a change is manageable if you don’t feel like you’re losing out. Discuss expectations, boundaries, and ways that you can support one another so that a compromise won’t feel like a personal attack. And if you ask him to make a change, be ready to make some changes for yourself.

Loving someone is not just about wanting to be with your partner. If you think he’s the reason why you breathe, you aren’t smart. Ever heard of oxygen? Loving is about sharing common goals in life. It’s about being comfortable with each other. It’s about growing old together. It’s about being proud of who you both are becoming. While relationships take a lot of meeting halfway, it doesn’t mean one has to give up who he or she is. Those who happily live ever after are those who can work together as partners to bring out the best in another.

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