Why do so many people put in the effort to improve on themselves only after a breakup? Perhaps if they tried while in the relationship, they’d still be together…

Alright, that statement is very broad it could be taken as extremely insensitive, but hear me out. Of course I understand that a traumatic event will always result in new perspectives and self-reflection. So I’m not literally asking why do people try new things after a tough separation. I’m also not at all saying everyone who’s been heartbroken only has themselves to blame. My statement is specifically directed at the concept of “comfortable”. Being comfortable with oneself and one’s expectations.*

After a break up, how many of us have said something like, I’m gonna get out there and be a new me! Gonna read more! Gonna try that painting class! Gonna start cooking! Gonna volunteer!Gonna do all these awesome things that I never bothered or pushed myself to explore while I was in the relationship. All these things that I obviously thought of, but didn’t act on. And why not? Because we were comfortable. We thought, Oh there’s no time, maybe next weekend. Oh it’s too expensive. Oh it’s too much trouble. And it’s not just activities, but we do the same with our behavior. “I’m gonna be more patient. I’m gonna take more initiative. I’m gonna open up more!” We often change our appearancetoo. People lose a bf/gf and they go cut their hair, start exercising, try dressing differently, or try to make new friends. We put ourselves in all these different situations and challenge our norm, and it always leads to something good. Enlightenment, meeting new people, new perspectives. So the question must be asked… If all these challenges- that push us, that are uncomfortable, that are strange- are ultimately beneficial and positive… what were you waiting for?

There are so many different reasons that relationships fail. So many catalysts and so many downfalls. But I believe that a lot of it stems from one or both parties reaching some level of comfort and that comfort can have 2 results.

Either 1) your partner doesn’t tell you they want something new/different and you are left in the dark and they develop these desires on their own without giving you a proper chance to respond and they decide for themselves that you two aren’t growing together. Or 2) your partner does tell you and you are shocked/surprised and don’t want to change and wonder why the other person has, and so you resist and get upset or sad. In both cases communication is key, but the willingness to explore new territories together is how to keep the relationship going.

I’m not saying this is the hidden secret potion to saving a relationship, but I think it’s something to consider if you are in one. Even if things are totally fine. Always, always, reflect on yourselves and ask, Am I being the best version of me for me and my partner? Am I challenging them and is he/she challenging me? If the answer is “no” to either of them, it’s time to talk and work it out. Don’t get comfortable; be open-minded to each other. Otherwise you might find yourself taking the salsa classes she always had brought up but you were too stubborn to take, or you’ll be trying a new hair style that might’ve been a fresh change for him. But it’ll be too late.

I acknowledge even as I write this that I’m oversimplifying. We often need to learn these lessons alone and not FOR someone. I get it. And sometimes the things we do/explore in the wake of a relationship is what leads us to the next, better one. And I’m of course not implying that people should change who they are completely, physically or behaviorally, just to make their partner happy. I’m just saying… don’t wait to be single and use bitterness/disappointment as your motivation to become a better person. You might be surprised how your relationship will be affected if you do these things while you still have them. That’s all. But what do I know? I just dyed my hair for the first time. “IT’S A NEW ME!!!”

*There is a difference between comfortable and confidence when it comes to relationships. I’m not saying two people can’t reach a point of being totally themselves, walls down with each other. The ‘comfortable’ I’m referring to is when you don’t take advantage of each day with one another, instead taking for granted that you have someone and can develop and do amazing things together!