Would you rather stay in a mediocre relationship than to start over and be single? The thought of dating "from scratch" can be daunting but does it really justify staying in a relationship not meeting your needs? In this week's brunchtalk, we explore whether to try to salvage your current relationship or cut bait and how to reframe your mindset about what "starting over" even means.
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#brunchtalk: Should I leave a relationship that's good but not great?
00:00:01 - 00:05:00
The dateable podcast is an insider's look into modern dating that The Huffington Post calls one of the top ten podcasts about love and sex. On each episode, we'll talk to real daters about everything from sex parties to sex droughts, date fails to diaper fetishes and first moves to first loves. I'm your host UA Shu, former dating coach turned dating sociologist. You also hear from my co host and producer Julie Kraft chick as we explore this crazy dateable world. Hey brunchables, welcome to brunch talk where we dissect and analyze and answer the questions that you all have sent in. We love this portion because we get to weigh in and also get to hear what you all are going through and believe it or not, the questions you all send in, you're not the only ones. You're not the only one going through what you're going through. So isn't that nice to know that? It is nice to know that. I feel like when I was dating before this podcast, you feel like you're on an island, like you feel like there's something wrong with you because you're the only one going through something. So the facts that other people write in similar stuff is actually incredibly reassuring that there's nothing wrong. It's just, this is what's happening, you know? These are the things that we're all dealing with. Well, it's wild to me the stuff that people talk about with their friends versus what they're internally going through. I remember when I was dating and having these thoughts of, well, I can't tell my friends this. This is unacceptable. They should know about this problem I'm having, or I shouldn't be having this problem, and that's what makes us lonely in dating as these preconceived notions of what is a good problem to have and what's not a good problem to have. I relate to that. I remember I got to a point that I didn't even want to tell my friends about dates because I didn't want them to be like, well, what happened to this person because they were here, especially friends that were in relationships. I had this married couple. I was super close with what I was doing the height of my online dating. And I remember them just being like, wait, what about this person? What about this person? Why are any of these people coming? And they were all on board when it was a funny dating story or like a hot date story. Interesting that they were living vicariously through me. But I could never just tell them that I felt really lonely through the process. And that's not okay. It's not like our Friends are telling us not to tell them. It's just we have these thoughts in our heads. They're just very much limiting beliefs. I remember when my last relationship, we weren't having sex, and I didn't tell anybody. I didn't tell you till after we broke up, we didn't have sex for a year, and I just thought, oh my gosh, there's something wrong with me. There's something wrong with us. And then I end up through our podcast, we hear about so many people in the same boat who also feel like they can't talk about it with their friends because it's so taboo. What do you mean you're not having sex in a relationship? You should be having a sex all the time. At your disposal, like, no, that's what caused so much conflict in my mind as a feeling that loneliness like can't tell anybody. Every one should grab their bestie, play this podcast before you go to the brunch, and go to like, I don't know, you don't like how there's like taste stick veggies for dinner. I feel like there should be like a tasting brunch menu that you can be there for hours. It is socially acceptable to sit there for hours. It may be like the first 30 minutes. You don't have the surface level, things are good. Things are great. And every course comes, you know, we talked about it at our recent episode with doctor Tasha urich, the dinner of truth. I feel like it needs to be the brunch of truth. Maybe herb version was kind of like you asked someone like, what's the most annoying thing about you? Maybe not that for the brunch, but maybe you could be like, this is what's really going on with me. I'm gonna get real with how I'm feeling about things. And guarantee it'll make you feel less alone. That's for sure. Maybe, yeah, send agenda, but not in those words. That sounds very clinical. I mean, there's certain prompts, the first bacon chorus, we're gonna discuss this odd part one. Part one a but maybe you do the major life updates for skip that out of the way, talk about something fun that's happening. What's a fun plan or a trip that you're looking forward to? And then you get into what is something that is that has been on your mind lately. And that just that question alone could open up something, right? Like we can go a little bit deeper at these brunch talks. You know, like I never obviously want to wish things that are bad for my Friends, but I do think back to a lot of the defining moments when I became really close with people and it was when they were sharing things and I was sharing things that weren't going peachy keen. And I think that's just the reality is life is not always super smooth. Even when it appears like you have all your ducks in a row. I had a friend recently tell me just like what was really going on with her and I was like, I feel closer to her because she was able to express that. Good. Good. I hope we can all get there.
00:05:00 - 00:10:09
But you can always just start with us first. We'll answer your question in front of thousands of people. That's the best part. But this is a good one today. I think a lot of people we've heard many variations of this question over the years. We got a more specific example that will read, but we actually got multiple versions even said to brunch talk of this. So we kind of paraphrased the general question to use one specific example to go off of. But very common they will go into. And the question is, I'm having doubts about my current relationship, but I'm afraid of starting over. I've been there. The Bora context one that will read is I've been dating someone for two years and I described the relationship as good but not great. We get along well enough, but our connection doesn't run deep in my opinion. I've had this type of connection before with my ex, so I know what it could look like. My current partner is good at paper, there's nothing wrong with our relationship, but it feels like we're living separate lives and our talks only go surface level. I'm 37 years old though and afraid to start over, especially since I want to have children soon. I've already put two years in, so the thought of going on dating apps again feels intimidating. Should I just accept that I won't have the strong connection I once had? Or should I go looking for it all? Yup in there, done that. Live to tell about it. I think that it's just such a such a real thought, especially when you're in your mid to late 30s. You start thinking the biological clock is really ticking for you and the thought of starting over is fucking scary. When all your single friends are telling you about their dating app experiences, you're like, um, what do I choose a loveless relationship? Or does bullshit that's happening? I don't know. It is really hard. And I think the ones where it's good, but not great, are exceptionally hard, because I think when it's bad, it's obvious that you should end it. Like if you're not being treated well or there's some clearing issue that you're aware of, but when it's just, you know, mediocre and everything's good on paper, that good on paper really traps you, doesn't it? That really gets you every single time. It makes it feel like you would be stupid to give this up, essentially. And I think that's what makes it really hard. But then at the end of the day, while yes, it's hard to start over. No one's doubting that. This is your life we're talking about. Yeah. This is a long time to be with someone, so I feel like, you know, we're so picky about what shoes to buy and shit. Like, why would we want to be selective of who we end up with? I don't actually think it's about starting over. And I hope we can reframe that a little bit. Everything we do in life propels us forward. It's not about starting over. You're actually, if you were to break up today and you started dating tomorrow, it doesn't mean that you're starting from ground zero. It just means that you're starting a new chapter. So I think first and foremost, reframe, that it's not about starting over. The second thought I have is, I recently had a friend who told me that his grandma changed her career path when she was 50 years old. She wanted to be a lawyer. And by the time she graduated from law school, she was already in her 50s. And everybody was like, what are you doing? Isn't it too late for this? It's her response was, I'm going to be old anyway. So why not do the thing that I want to do? And I feel that way about the situation too, is it's not about time loss. You're going to be aging anyway. Why not be in two years from now when you rather be in a happy, healthy, fulfilling relationship, even maybe with your current partner, rather than where you are today. So I really believe it's not about starting over. It's about progressing forward. Yeah, you know, there's a saying, you're not starting over, you're starting from experience. And I think that really holds true with this. You know, it's so hard to know, can you make it with the current partner or can you not? And every situation is different. I think I would personally look back on like, was there ever this feeling of greatness in this relationship? Was it always kind of mediocre or has something changed along the way that's caused it to? And I think that's really telling because that helps you understand what you're starting with. What can you actually build on opposed to, you know, there's some relationships, like there's plenty of people I've met and even friends that just like, it falls short. It probably as deep as we're going to get is what we are doing current day. That's just the reality is that people click in different ways. So did you once have a connection that was deeper or has it always been this way? And if it's always been this way, I think before throwing the towel, is there ways that you can provoke it out. Like I think oftentimes we complain that we're not talking about deep things with people, like what conversations are you having? Are you able to, you know, maybe there's something that you're really important for you to talk about like some philosophy of life or I don't know, what do you do? What do you define as deep? Everyone has different definitions of what a deep convo means.
00:10:09 - 00:15:01
So maybe it's getting crystal clear of what that actually looks like for you. What would a fulfilling partnership look like? Like, what are the types of conversations you have? What is kind of the balance of more surface level fun versus, more heartwarming, or I don't even know. Again, this is up to your definition to figure out what works for you, but getting clear on that and trying to initiate and see how this person shows up is so important to determine is it that they don't have the capacity or have we not been in that setting. The question to ask yourself before any action is taken is, did I try my best? Yeah. Data try my best. If you did try your best to salvage the relationship and you can rest assured that you can move on from it. But if you think there is still room for improvement, I always believe in working on the relationship first before bailing. And if your partner is willing to get on board, I don't see any reason not to try. I mean, for so long, when I was dating, I would bail when the relationship felt stale, or I felt complacent, it felt they were complacent. But why didn't I just pause and think, hey, how can we work on this together? And if you don't give your partner that chance is actually really unfair for them to not make that effort with you. So think about that. It's like, did I try my best? And if there's still room for improvement here, what is the next step I can take? Some things that couples, especially earlier, like in the first couple years, what they're blessed with is the lack of huge life events, a death in the family, someone getting laid off, having kids. These are huge life events that sometimes bring couples closer together. So you should feel blessed that maybe you haven't had these huge life events, but you can make them as hypotheticals. Oh, my friend from college, her husband is suffering from stage four stomach cancer. If that were to happen to us, how would we want to make this relationship work? Hypotheticals. I think there's nothing wrong, especially two years into a relationship, have these conversations about the hypotheticals in the future. That's how I think many couples find that vulnerability to become closer. Yeah, let's hold that thought for a few messages. Wow, thank you so much to so many of you who've already registered for this cohort of refining your person program. We are absolutely thrilled to welcome you all. And unfortunately, due to the high demand and number of people who have already signed up, we will need to end registration early. Now, our previous deadline has been moved up to the 24th. That's June 24th. Again, the new registration deadline is now June 24th at midnight Pacific time. We are just about a capacity and can only take on a certain number of people this cohort. If you're serious about finding your person and to enjoy the dating process along the way, get in on registration before the 24th, the finding your person program takes our years of researching daters and dating patterns to crack the code on love. In this program, we walk you step by step through the method, prepping you for your person who may be just around the corner. Head over to finding your person dot com and register again that's fine your person dot com and register by June 24th at midnight Pacific time. I think that's interesting that this person that wrote in said that it feels like they're not very interconnected and you know who knows if they live together or my guess is that they don't from this and it's kind of living separate lives is what was mentioned. It may be doubling down. What is it that's causing you to hold back on this? Because I feel like if you continue to live separate lives after two years, that's probably an indication that it's not going to go that deep and feel that serious. Because part of it, I think there's this period at the beginning when you're stating, but eventually you move more into like this is us doing life together. And if you never move into that phase, it always feels like disconnected dating. I think ultimately this person needs to ask themselves how much do I want to try to make this work? And it may be taking bigger swings or if you really don't want to make it work. If you find yourself fighting to make it work, that's a sign also. I feel like I'm mixed on it. It's like on one side, I do think people should fight and try their best, but then on the other side, it's like sometimes you just can't force things. You know, like if you know deep down that this is not really what you want and I think also getting real with yourself is like, why did I enter this in the first place? Did I enter this because I was stressed about time? Did I feel that pressure crunch to have kids? And again, this person looked good on paper and they seem viable. I think understanding the history you've had with this person is so essential and where your own motivations were coming to determine if it's worth fighting for. If you can acknowledge, hey, I actually wasn't in a good place when we met. I was lonely and I was looking for someone to fill a void.
00:15:01 - 00:20:02
And now it's caught up to me and I realized this isn't the right fit. Maybe the kindest thing actually could be to let both of you go to find the people that are right for you. Yeah, that's a really important point there is what are your intentions behind your actions if you are choosing to stay with this person? Is it because you're afraid? Is it because of the fear of starting over the fear of being lonely the fear of being single or are you really thinking that you're just not happy in this relationship? I like to fight for relationships now that we've been doing so many seasons of dateable is I realize good relationships are made and they're not just packaged for you. So I believe in fighting for the relationship but like Julie said if you are feel like you're forcing yourself and your heart is not in it, that's not a good sign that you're in the right relationship. Now I would say professional help is always an option, my ex and I went to couples counseling and it was eye opening for us to realize we were not right for each other and that felt really good to break up that way, knowing that we did our best. We even got professional help. So if that is something you're considering, I highly, highly recommend it to have a third party just come in and help facilitate the conversation. I was going to ask you looking back on it in retrospect. Are you glad you really put in that work with your ex? Or do you think that you might have been able to realize earlier that it just wasn't the right fit in all the work wouldn't have made it the right fit? I'm so glad I'm so glad we made that effort because it showed it showed that we weren't willing to waste any more time in a complacent relationship. If I didn't seek that help, I probably would have stayed another year or two. Really? Right. Because it was comfortable. He was good on paper. Everything was fine, but it wasn't what I wanted. It did not inspire me to grow. So when we did receive this professional help, which most couples after couples counseling, probably have a game plan of how they strengthened their relationship for us, it was just so clear that we were not right for each other. And we weren't willing to take that next step to fit these two people together who don't really belong together. I definitely agree with that. I guess my question is bore. In retrospect, would have made more sense to throw in the towel earlier once you realize that it was more of a complacent, not exciting relationship, or do you think it was worth the time investment to try to make it work? Absolutely. I would have asked, what if? Because when you're with someone good on paper and there's nothing noticeably wrong about your relationship, you start questioning what's wrong with me. Am I just not cut out for relationships? And I have been in bad situation ships where I thought, oh, I gotta hang on to this one because this one's stable. This one's, this one's for real, right? So you start thinking, what if? If we were to break up early, what if we stay together? What if we got married? So I'm glad we had to definitive from the heart from the soul answer of no, we're not fucking right for each other. It's true. I don't know though. I'm still mixed. If you know in your gut that you're not right for each other, and you know that you've experienced something deeper in the past, I don't know if all the work in the world is gonna make this person your person. All it might do is bring clarity that they're not your person. And I think there's an extreme benefit like you were saying of just knowing for sure I did what I could. I did it all, no regrets and now I know for sure. I think that there's a lot of benefits of that. But I'm also wondering if you do know to not be afraid of the other side because I think that is what gets in people's way and you know like in my opinion, I feel like I'm a romantic. I'll caveat it by saying that. I do feel like you should hold out for this person that, you know, really gets you and you really have that deep connection with because I think this person is ultimately so important in your overall well-being the trajectory of your life. Like this isn't a decision that's made lightly and I feel like so many times we're all just trying to check the box and prove that we can be in a relationship that we don't think about, okay, what about in like ten years, 20 years, 30 years? Do I want to be with this person, you know? So I think it should be a decision that's not taken lightly. And if your gut is telling you that this is not the right person, I think it's important to listen to that. A point taken. I totally agree. Sometimes you just don't have that clarity. Maybe your guts like, I don't know, right? I think even in this person's situation, she felt that connection with an ex, which didn't work out. In my situation, same thing, I felt a stronger connection with other people in past. Those didn't work out, ended up hurting me, so I thought maybe I don't really need that deep of a connection. I see. Stable over relationship. And to be Frank, if my partner was willing and we were both willing to work on the relationship, in the lifetime of a partnership, you're going to have times where you don't have that deep connection.
00:20:02 - 00:25:07
You're going to lose it sometimes. And then you have to gain it back. So it's not really about, is that connection there for you to make this intuitive decision? I think it's about two people. Are they willing to even work on getting that connection back? Yeah. No, I mean, I think that's a big piece of it. And I agree that there's going to be times in every relationship that you might be feel more or less connected to someone, but I do believe it had to be there at some point. And if it was never there at some point, that's a big difference. If it's in a phase that you're not connecting. I think you can work through a phase. You can't work through that this is just the way you two connect. Not every person you're going to just be able to talk for hours with. That's just the reality. Yeah, I mean, that's so true. If the reason for getting together in the first place is because I've heard this, I should be with someone like this. Yeah. I should be in a stable relationship like this without saying I actually really like this person. That's a huge red flag. That does not provide a good foundation. It's hard though because what you're saying and I totally hear this and I've even, I feel like in my current partnership, I had similar feeling of, you know, I've been with these people that aren't stable. I've been with these people that aren't consistent. So you're looking for that quality. And that is a good quality. That's not a bad quality. Whatsoever. But it can't be the only quality. And I think that's what ends up happening is we overemphasize the things that we didn't have in the past. This person said they've had this connection before. So maybe they've gone too far. And I've just saved this observing your relationship UA. I feel like you overcompensated, but now your current partner is more equilibrium. Like you had to go to the far edge to now come back to someone that's still stable, still consistent, but you have that oomph with, you know? Yeah. But I had to get through the last relationship. Exactly. So again, so it's no time wasted. In no time wasted, I did not start over, although, you know, I was 38 years old. Was I 38? 37. 37 years old, single, thinking I just got out of this two year relationship. What am I doing? I was back on the apps, but I was not active at all. I truly felt like, here we go. But my idea of starting over was just starting over with a fresh mindset, not having expectations, and then 6 months later, I reconnect with my current partner. During that those 6 months, I only went on two dates. Yeah. I only went on to dates, I didn't swipe that much. I was just not in that mindset of being day after day. That kind of starting over felt completely different than the last time I was single. Totally. I really think that's what opened me up to welcome the current partner into my life. I agree. I think when I started over after by last X, it was very different the way I approached David. I was also not serial dating. I was just more open to different aspects and focusing on different qualities. So what we've said, it's starting from experience. Whatever happens with this two year relationship, it was not a waste of time. There's probably a lot that you hopefully, you know, on one side, you can work through it. If it's not the right fit, then I think that's also a benefit. You said it took realizing that it wasn't the right fit to know like, okay, I still want these qualities, but this is what was missing, and that's what can help guide me to finding that person that actually is everything I'm looking for. And you know, we all deserve that everything and I think sometimes it feels like it's a lot to ask for, like someone that's gonna be our all and do all this, but if you are intentional about what you're looking for, you don't have crazy expectations, like a laundry list going down for miles, but if you're clear on you want someone where there's a great connection, you want someone where you feel safe and secure, and you want somewhere where there's physical intimacy. Like that's not too much to ask for. I don't believe. Yeah. And I'm not a romantic like you, Julie, so I don't believe I don't personally believe I will ever be with someone who can give me everything or have everything that I'm looking for. But I do believe that this last time around, my intention was just finding someone who was willing to grow with me. And someone who had that same mentality of a venture in terms of physical adventures, but also mental adventures. So my partner certainly does not have everything I'm looking for. The one quality is that we are both able to evolve and grow together. And that's what I want. Yeah, well, no one's going to have every last call. I'm not even that much for a Vietnam. But I think it's defining what qualities really ultimately matter to you. Is a big piece of it. But I think what I'm really gathering from this conversation is every situation is going to have nuance, the more you can understand and know your own situation, your own motives, your own reasoning, and decide, is this something we're both going to try to fight for and I don't even like the word fight for, but like try to make it work, essentially.
00:25:07 - 00:28:02
Try to make it work and at least we know we gave it our all or again if we want or both of us feel like it's not worth fighting for or we're trying, then we have our answer also. And again, not starting over starting from experience. This is all going to help you in the long term. We all have these arbitrary timelines and days of all the stop of modern medicine, and technology. You can have babies later in life too. It's going to be okay. I think the worst thing is to just feel the pressure. It just do something out of pressure, not because that's what you really want. Yeah, that's set up for fail, for sure. Great. Well, keep the questions coming. These questions are so great and we've gotten such fantastic feedback from you all. So you can always email us hello at dateable podcast dot com with your brunch talk questions where you can DM us at Instagram at dateable podcast. Yes. Wonderful. Well, keep them coming and we'll see you next week. Bye. The dateable podcast is part of the frolic podcast network find more podcasts you'll love at frolic media slash podcasts. Want to continue the conversation? First, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the handle at dateable podcast. Tag us in any post with a hashtag stay dateable and trust us. We look at all those posts. Then head over to our website dateable podcast dot com. There, you'll find all the episodes as well as articles, videos, and our coaching service with vetted industry experts. You can also find our premium Y series where we dissect, analyze, and offer solutions to some of the most common dating conundrums. We're also downloadable for free on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google Play, overcast, stitcher radio, and other podcast platforms. Your feedback is valuable to us, so don't forget to leave us a review. And most importantly, remember to stay dateable. Membership fees apply after free trial, cancel any time. Can I be real for a second? That goal you have to exercise and eat better, you really can do it. But nobody is gonna do it for you. And nobody has to, because you can do it. If you have the right tools and a community that cares about helping you get results. And that's us. Beach body. It's as convenient as your TV or laptop, but you need to decide that you're worth it. Let us help you succeed. Here's how. Go to beach body dot com to claim your free membership and start feeling great. The perfect closet additions feel as good as they look. And rothy's knits style and comfort into every pair of shoes. The Rafi's signature sneaker combines game changing comfort with a timeless style that goes perfectly with every look. From casual to elevated, and they're one of a kind driving loafers feel great with or without socks and come in both classic and eye catching designs. Find out what the hype is all about, discover your new favorite pair of shoes and get $20 off your first purchase at hys dot com slash hype