Is it *hard* work?

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    Bubbles G.

    Do I live in a fantasy world?

    I’m near 30. Have not had a serious relationship for nearly five years. My relationship previous to my last 5 years of being single was five years. It was a relatively healthy relationship, and despite it being very difficult for both of us, we went our separate ways. It took us five years to admit to ourselves that we did not want the same things. I wanted a family, he wanted to be a nomad. I also focused on my career a lot in my early 20s, thus I worked A LOT. This also put a lot of tension on our relationship, as he hated that I “slaved to the man”. Again, differences in priorities. When he said with tears in his eyes that he was unhappy and wanted to leave, we cried all night. The next day, I thanked him for having the courage to do what I had not, yet, been able to bring myself to.

    For the first two years I did not want to date. I knew I was unhappy during my previous relationship. I made my personal motto “I cannot be happy with someone else if I am unable to be happy by myself”. For two years I set out to try new things, meet new people, and focus less on my career (already very well established), and find people that mattered to me. I was successful in meeting some people whom I care for, and some (most!) who are merely acquantainces. At last, I felt well rounded in all areas of my life, except one – a romantic relationship.

    I set out to the internet for online dating, and in the past three years have not had anything resembling a serious relationship. I’ve dated some guys for a couple of months at most. Typically I end it because I learn that he does not have the characteristics that I seek in a life long mate. Many friends (and some pushy family) tell me I am too picky, and I take this comment with a grain of salt. I know where my core values lie, what I have to offer my significant other, and know what I am willing to compromise on, and what I will not compromise on.

    Now, I ask if I live in a fantasy land because ovbiously after these years I cannot sustain a relationship over any long period of time. I WANT to commit, but I truly feel that I have not found someone I want to commit to. From friends (the ones who tell me I am too picky) I hear about their constant struggles in their relationships – long term, financially committed to each other, no kids, and not married. Over and over I hear them saying that relationships are such hard work, but they love their partner and he or she is a good person and worth it. I’m sorry, but if you are having panic attacks on a monthly basis that require you to go to the ER to get medication to calm down, you have an incredibly unhealthy relationship and really need to take a step back and ask yourself if it is worth it…or at least be willing to seek help and accept that things don’t get fixed over night. I know of many (seemingly) happy couples, ie. my parents, my older siblings, a few select friends, and they sure do not make their relationships look like HARD work. Heck, I asked my mom her opinion on this whole concept and she laughed and agreed with me. I know that relationships are WORK, but to me, if you are with someone you love it should never seem like *hard* work.

    I guess I’m just really tired of listening to people my own age go on what HARD work romantic relationships are. I’m starting to get lonely and almost tempted to give in and settle…..but won’t. Ask me after I turn 30, ha, which is also what some friends tell me 🙂 Perhaps I’m a bit cocky and too Type-A-ish, but I am me and have accepted it.

    Any thoughts? I am curious to learn both view points.


    Hello Bubbles

    I have thought about this question alot myself… i have been in two long term unhappy relationships and i have to say that most of my friends and families are in relationships that are either ‘hard work’ or unhappy…

    i myself have learned from the women in my life that love is hard.. it is work.. Full of sacrafice, putting up with bad behvaiour.. In fact its almost a sign of how deep your love is, by how unhappy and how much shit you put up with… Then theres divorce,,, kids and all sorts then thrown in to the commitment..

    Personally i don’t know how much i buy into all that.. And the more disillusioned i am with it.. The more i want to be on my own… i would rather be alone than in a relationship that is a best hard work.. exhausting and draining and at worst abusive, restrictive or that zaps the happiness or spark from myself..

    i believe that the relationship i choose to be in is one where we support and respect each other. but most inportabtly we can talk about experiences as they happen.. We don’t turn on the other or make life more difficult for the other.. And most imporatntly we stop trying to change and mould the other person.. And this i believe is the most important aspect to a long term happy relationship… If both parties are comitted to maintaining a happy relationship they will be able to talk in a non confrontational and blaming way… They will be a able to take responsibility for actions and reactions.. They will love and accept each other as they are and where they are in life not trying to make them more or push them into being a desired way..

    And they will truly love the other which means they will work with each other making things in life less hard… Being as honest as they can about themselves and owning their emotions and reactions..

    Thats what i think…

    Buddhist Wife

    I think perhaps you have just not met the right person yet.

    To me a relationship is hard work, but it’s hard work you enjoy. So as an example, if you like gardening, that’s hard work but you enjoy it and it’s worth it.

    If you get to the stage where you are feeling ‘Oh no this is horrible work I don’t want to do’ then to me that’s not quite what you are looking for.


    I could have written this letter when I was not quite thirty! I got the same messages that I was too picky, but I stuck to my convictions and went through 4 whole years of online dating with some small successes but nothing major. Then I week after I turned 30, I met someone that actually made me feel like I wanted to spend more time with him, get to know him better, and I found myself hoping that he liked me back, instead of my usual reactions of either wanting to run away or cool indifference.

    My relationship doesn’t feel like work at all. It feels like effort maybe, and sometimes compromises, but those compromises are joyfully given, without resentment or bitterness, because we both give and take in order to keep the other happy and keep ourselves happy as well.

    Bubbles G.

    Thanks for the responses. Laia’s comment of “unhappiness and a relationship being at best hard work and may be a sign of how deep the love or commitment for their partner is” made me look at the other side of the coin. Despite the fact that I also do not buy into this belief, it makes me understand the situations of many individuals in my life who continue to state how much hard work is. And the Wife reminded me that we all have very different definitions of what “hard work” really is.

    All in all, I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone. Perseverance is key! I guess I have a difficult time explaining to individuals why after several years of a lot of dating I *still* have not found someone I am overly interested in spending the rest of my life with.

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