Creative approaches to reconciling?
January 9, 2015 3:50 PM   Subscribe

If my boyfriend and I stay together, how can we improve our relationship without getting mired in the distrust that can come with having almost parted or in the effortful work of changing our interactions?

If we break up, it'll be because our interactions have become strained and distant over the last few months, probably as a result of some tough recent circumstances (though, it is possible that we lack chemistry).

If we both decide we're enthusiastic about staying together, how can we feel eager about reconciling (instead of only feeling on guard or wearied, which would undermine the process)? We've discussed breaking up in detail, so the threat of it would be foregrounded. And, we've been dating for a year, so we wouldn't have the playfulness or simplicity of a new relationship.

If you've successfully reconciled, or have seen others do so: what creative approaches to conversations, routines, sex, and time together helped the troubled relationship? Which were useless?
posted by newtonstreet to Human Relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If we both decide we're enthusiastic about staying together, how can we feel eager about reconciling

If you both decide you are enthusiastic about staying together, then that should entail feeling eager to reconcile. If you can't feel that, then I would question the 'enthusiasm' you are really feeling for staying together.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:58 PM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

You stay together because you both love each other and want to be together. Because even if there are issues, you're better together than you are apart.

Frankly, I'd leave it. The vocabulary of your Ask alone has me shrugging and it seems like your "interactions" must be fraught and earnest and dull as all fuck. Being together should be fun, not "effortful work."

You either have chemistry or you don't.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:56 PM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

I don't know. I feel like after a year of dating you should know if you have chemistry and if you're wondering if you do, it's an indication that maybe this isn't the right relationship.

My boyfriend and I had a very rough 2nd year because of circumstances and I think the only reason we're still together is because we are very stubborn and love each other even when we go through periods when we don't like each other. Honestly, it took a lot of time, work, therapy, and managing some of those tough circumstances to get us to this better place in our relationship. Going through hard times together sucked, but it also made us stronger as a couple.
posted by Lingasol at 6:03 PM on January 9, 2015

You have to let your guard down and trust and take the other person at their word - that they want to be here and want to move forward. Don't wait for the other person to show you signs of being safe or being over this rough patch. Take the first step and move forward as you've both decided to. Both feet in.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:25 PM on January 9, 2015

Best answer: Good news! If you guys can keep the communication going and it really is a relationship worth keeping, I personally think it's a wonderful thing to have the terms of your break up in the foreground. To me, that's an excellent way to begin _staying together_. What I mean by that is:

You have to know what you want and don't want. Otherwise you are just two leaves in the wind, blowing this way and that. Know what you want and don't want in a mate. Know it down to your bones. Know yourself. Know what you need for happiness. Say it out loud.

For instance, my perfect mate would take me dancing, so there is no way in hell I would begin dating someone who wouldn't take me dancing, and I wouldn't bother to reconcile with someone who wouldn't take me dancing. I knew I wanted to dance with my mate, so that was absolutely non-negotiable for me. You dance with me, or move the hell on. My time is very precious. (Your time is precious, too. So is your boyfriends. Don't waste each other's time.) If there are things that just aren't going to change and you aren't happy, don't bother to reconcile.

People waste years, and years and YEARS in bad relationships, having that mismatch smack them in the face, over and over again, every single day. When a relationship is wrong, it feels wrong. It makes you cry. It disappoints you. It embarrasses you. It wears you down. Good relationships do the exact opposite. You cry happy tears, disappointment becomes a bad memory, you feel pride, and it builds you up and comforts you.

Do you have good bones to your relationship? If your gut (which you BOTH should be listening to) says yes, then go ahead and muck around in the "effortful work of changing your interactions". It's serious business sometimes, this adult relationship stuff. What conversations should you have? ALL the conversations. Communication is the best friend of reconciliation. If you can't communicate with each other, just recognize the bad match and let it go. Your time has to be something that is important to you. Bad relationships are a terrible waste of precious time.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:12 PM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

Best answer: A few thoughts, based on my own recent experiences:
How do you like to be shown that you matter? How do they? (gifts, words, physical affection?)
Do you two have a project of some sort that's a good neutral ground for re-discovering each other? Something that isn't all about the two of you being all coupled up and talking about the relationship, but rather, being focused on the project and letting the relationship grow from a common goal?
In my own experience, putting all the direct communication stuff on the backburner for a while and having a neutral, non-romantic thing you two do together helps people reconnect and relearn each other at more basic levels, which may allow something stronger to build from that over time, or help you two realize the nature of your connection is not meant to be coupled up anymore. That way takes a lot of time, patience and trust, but in the end you get the benefit of having done something cool with someone whether the relationship as it once was survives or not.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:14 PM on January 9, 2015

Response by poster: I understand that the tone of my question implied that the relationship was chilly and earnest; it's not. (I think that stiff tone is the result of my trying to be objective in a situation that's mostly anxiety, stomach aches, dread, bad dreams, long walks, etc. etc.)

It's nice to have advice about whether or not this relationship is worth pursuing, but that's not what I'm looking for. More specifically, I really want to hear about ways to improve a relationship without getting stuck in the mistrust or precariousness of almost having broken up. When it does work, what does that look like?
posted by newtonstreet at 1:27 PM on January 21, 2015

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