AdviceSex and Dating

Overcoming Obstacles in Your Relationship

Updated: Feb 15, 2011 09:56
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Every good relationship has at least one major obstacle to overcome. People who write rom-coms and soap operas understand this, and it is TRUE. The most important part is how you handle the problems when they arise.

The first step is to ask yourself some questions:

1) Is this an imaginary obstacle?

It’s easy to become obsessed about an issue that, in reality, is not particularly pressing and may only be an obstacle in theory. If your obstacle revolves around a scenario more than five years in the future, um, stop worrying about it. The universe won’t be expanding for billions of years!

2) Is everyone invested in resolving this problem?

It’s entirely possible for one person to be suffocated by a circumstance that the other person thinks is fine. For instance: the mistress situation. If you are the mistress, chances are he doesn’t consider his marriage an obstacle to having sex with you at all. This is an equally difficult problem and needs to be addressed first.

Ways of dealing:

1) Pretend the obstacle does not exist

This is the first stage of overcoming any obstacle. Just carry on as though this person you are in love with is not in fact married to someone else, about to die of cancer, incarcerated, or whatever.

2) Look at the obstacle in a different light

Maybe, instead of a horrible state of affairs, this is actually an interesting challenge the two of you can learn and grow from! Love can conquer many things, as evidenced by every Disney movie ever made. Suppose for instance you are a mermaid, and you fall in love with a super handsome sailor who is actually a human and therefore impossible for you to mate with. Not a problem. OR say you are a baby lion and you meet this other awesome female baby lion. You guys are def going to get married and have a huge family until one day your dad is trampled to death in a gorge, and you blame yourself. Again, nbd.

3) Break up, due to the obstacle

A lot fewer people choose this option than should, which is understandable, because there is a fine line between an obstacle that makes your relationship sort of exciting and one that makes it miserable. You’ll have to judge this on a case-by-case basis. For instance, the French girl in Last Tango in Paris, after Marlon Brando rapes her, I would say should have viewed the various obstacles of his being way older, recently widowed, and a rapist to be a trifecta of fucked up stuff no one should try to work out! She does, so, whatever. C’est la vie.

4) Remind yourself of the other things this relationship has overcome

Remember that day you had an argument over which Final Fantasy is the best, the heart of the issue being that Final Fantasy IX is just as good as Final Fantasy VII? And suddenly the whole relationship was in jeopardy?? That was a pretty trying time, but it sorted itself out. Use these moments to remind yourself that although sometimes, there may seem to be a chasm of difference between you and this suddenly foreign person, that’s okay, because you guys can still get through it. By mutually hating on FFXIII.

5) Prepare for life to be slightly different than you planned

Take a moment to fully consider what you’re getting into. Maybe the romantic situation you had always imagined did not involve quite so much Scandinavian stuff. Or any… Scandinavian stuff. There will very probably be a lot of Jarlsberg, salmon, and skiing in your future. You don’t know how to ski!

It can all be a little scary. In the end of course it’s up to you — maybe you’d prefer to stick to whatever script you had written. There’s no fault in that, because you shouldn’t make sacrifices you’re not willing to or compromise on something that affects your basic happiness. If you do, you’ll only resent the other person in the end. Just be careful about having too detailed a plan for the way things are going to turn out. I often suspect the best parts of life are the ones we wouldn’t have predicted in a million years.

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Katy B. - Economic Inexpert

Katy B. - Economic Inexpert

Katy B. grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the home of Gerald R. Ford, Andy Richter, and, at one point, the guy who wrote Mr. Holland's Opus. She moved to NYC for her degree in library science, and is now in the Media Studies program at The New School. She hopes to one day be a film studies librarian. Ask her anything about Dewey Decimal – anything! – and she will roll her eyes because academic libraries use Library of Congress. Durrr.