What to do when you mind some of your partner’s behavior or your close one deals with personal issues? At a certain point, instead of listening, tolerating and helping, you might have to consider preserving your own mental health.Each of us is carrying a certain burden during the life. It does not necessary have to be something serious: we can grow up in a regular family where the relationships were not exactly great or face misunderstanding, incomprehension, state of uncertainty or fear during our life. Each of us deals with these situations differently. What someone overcomes easily it may bring to the edge of desperation someone else. Frustrating situations lead often to suppression of our feelings, incorrect processing of the experience or “escape patterns” of behavior. That can be, for example, alcohol abuse, drugs or aggression. But it does not have to end only with these obvious psychological problems. Incapability to establish a healthy relationship, inclination to control others, excessive jealousy, dependence on our partner, inability to effectively communicate with others and much more could derive from it. If we recognize this behavior in us, the resolution lies in our hands. But what happens when it is our partner who has these issues? How to help them? And, is it possible? Are we responsible for their issues? Should we stand by our partners in good and bad moments or should we protect ourselves first? Help or leave? Before I get to the core discussion concerning “whether to solve a partner’s problems or leave” I would like to mention something which we often forget nowadays: it is very important to get to know each other before starting a relationship. In today’s world everyone is looking for quick solutions. One or two dates and we start exploring how we fit in bed together. With this approach we often skip few steps which can warn us about possible problems. Definitely it is not advisable to overlook warning signals. We can be benevolent once we start the relationship, not before. For example if our partner does not contribute to the relationship as we would like him to from the beginning, we can excuse this as shyness, we need to evaluate signs more carefully as well as other characteristics. Because later on, we may feel abandoned. But there are much clearer signals which we tend to overlook in the beginning and expect the partner to change later. If the mentioned partner is used to spend weekends sleeping on the table in the local pub, is a compulsive substance abuser or has the reputation of irremediable Don Juan, this behavior won’t probably change overnight. It is useful to watch our partner’s behavior in our presence, but also in an interaction with their friends or parents. This approach may last long time but will be advantageous for the relationship. Of course, we can start the relationship even if some imperfections are noticed but it will be wise to carefully consider if we are able to tolerate such things. In case we won’t be able to handle partner’s unreliability it will be better to look for someone else. You will protect both of you from needless stress. I care for you but also for me We need to realize that we cannot save anyone. If we think we have to help our partner, then we are wrong. Psychotherapist Andrea Mathews describes the situation in her article “Rescuing the Rescuer” as following: “The rescuer needs to understand that he cannot really save anyone. We can help, control and influence only ourselves. We don’t “get” people to do things. They will or won’t do it based on their personal beliefs and values. We can try to help, advice or argue, but in the end people always do what is best for them at that moment basing their actions on their belief system and rationality, which can even mean another drink, financial bankruptcy or violent partner.” So what we CAN do? If you have relationship which is still beneficial even there are some flaws, you have 2 options:
- You can tolerate partner’s behavior, not pointing out his flaws and do everything you can to make the relationship work.
- Second option consists of openly talking to your partner about his behavior and how we feel in the relationship.
- physical or psychological aggression,
- humiliating or not respecting our partner,
- reluctance to communicate or invest into the relationship,
- lying about important things,
- any dangerous or irresponsible behavior which put, not only partner but also children, into danger.