McKissick: Your relationship should take work, but it shouldn’t be hard

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A photo illustration of someone waiting to deliver flowers in a relationship March 28. (Collegian | Skyler Pradhan)

Nathaniel McKissick, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Should romantic relationships be hard? You may have heard as much from a parent, an aunt or uncle, a friend or a sibling when deep in the throes of a tumultuous relationship yourself, but were they right?

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While it may be true that relationships take work, they should not be outright difficult all the time.

Sure, a healthy relationship can be hard at times. It requires open communication, the ability to be honest with your partner and the maturity to handle criticism, but should it lead you to the precipice every single day? Absolutely not.

Why do people stay, then? Putting aside instances of physical and domestic abuse in which leaving is physically unsafe for them, experts have a number of theories.

According to Peaceful Mind Psychology, people with lower self-esteem and a perception that their life would be worse if they were single were more apt to stay in unhealthy relationships. There’s also the sunk cost fallacy in which people are more determined to follow through or commit to something if they’ve already invested significant time or financial resources.

Psychologists believe our developmental years and our primary caretaker’s parenting styles drastically affect the way we navigate romantic relationships in our later lives. We search for traits in a romantic partner that mirror those of our caretaker — the good, the bad and the ugly.

“If you and your partner are constantly at each other’s throats, lying to one another or find that resentment is building in the relationship, it could be a mismatch of attachment styles or personality types. It could also be time to consider couples counseling or a ceremonious end to things.”

The depiction of unhealthy relationships in media certainly doesn’t help, either. We’ve all seen it dozens of times over: toxic relationships touted as idealistic fantasies of love.

We followed Carrie Bradshaw through six seasons of “Sex and the City” as she gruelingly chased after the toxic Mr. Big, and we watched “Gossip Girl” Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf’s rollercoaster of a romance derail time and time again. Olivia Pope and Fitz Grant from “Scandal,” Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun from “The Notebook” and Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from “Twilight” — the list goes on.

In the end, though, all of these rocky relationships ended in holy matrimony — or a mostly happy ending despite the many red flags. In a world wherein people aspire to duplicate the relationships they consume in movies, books and TV shows, this is just perpetuating the myth that relationships should be hard.

According to Verywell Mind, a healthy relationship is marked by honesty and trust, mutual respect, affection, clear communication and a mutual give-and-take between parties. Romantic relationships lacking this should be reassessed.

A photo illustration of someone waiting to deliver flowers in a relationship March 28.
A photo illustration of someone waiting to deliver flowers in a relationship March 28. (Collegian | Skyler Pradhan)

If you and your partner are constantly at each other’s throats, lying to one another or find that resentment is building in the relationship, it could be a mismatch of attachment styles or personality types. It could also be time to consider couples counseling or a ceremonious end to things.

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“There are worse things in life than being single, and single people can still live satisfied and happy lives.”

People oftentimes stay in rocky relationships because of the high highs after a period of low lows, but a healthy relationship shouldn’t — and doesn’t — oscillate so much.

According to Medical News Today, people generally stay in unhealthy relationships to spare their partners the hurt of the breakup. The more dependent participants believed their partner to be on them or the more committed they believed their partner to be, the less likely they were to leave.

Whether it be altruism, an aspiration to be like Carrie Bradshaw or just blatant complacency, no one should suffer through a relationship that causes them constant duress.

There are worse things in life than being single, and single people can still live satisfied and happy lives. If there is no physical threat preventing you from leaving, don’t stay in a relationship that makes you miserable or anxious.

Reach Nathaniel McKissick at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @NateMcKissick.