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Should I Listen to My Heart or My Brain?

by hrcounts

I’ve been in a semi-serious relationship for the past year and half with a guy I met on a personnel ad. My family does not like him and has wanted me to break it off. Mainly because of his financial situation, he does not have a great job, no money, no skills or experience (not that he’s not smart or tried), I support him financially when I can, but when we’re together none of that matters. I love him and he loves me and we’ve talked about our future together. But when I think about the responsibilities to come I get overstressed and think maybe my family is right. I’ll be the one suffering in the relationship. My boyfriend and I also argue a lot, mainly because of our financial problems. We’re both 30 and are ready to settle down and one of my biggest fears is that I’ve invested a lot of time, and money, in this relationship and am I ready to just throw it all away? Will I be able to find someone as sweet and wonderful as him, who makes me feel the way I feel when I’m with him, who accepts and loves me for who I am? I should also mention that this is my first relationship (if that matters). I’ve always been afraid to open up to people, but with him, I’m not afraid, and it comes easy, which is what made me fall for him in the first place. I keep thinking he’ll get a better job, things will change, but it hasn’t so far and I fear it’s going to get worse. I also get anxious and stressed when I think about how my parents and sister cannot accept him in our family. I am very close to my family and can’t imagine being with someone who they disapprove and cannot accept. This has been one of my biggest struggles and it’s been hurting our relationship. I’ve thought about ending it but can’t seem to go through with it. Should love trump all and just have faith in what we have, or should I reconsider and be rational with the finance and family situation as a factor? Please help!

You should listen to your heart and your brain! As much as we’d all like to believe that love is enough and can overcome anything, as a therapist who has witnessed many relationships fall apart, I can firmly say that love is not enough.

Healthy long lasting relationships contain love and affection but also many other factors such as compatibility, good communication, trust, commitment, respect, shared hopes and dreams, and common values. If your boyfriend works hard and does his best to contribute, even if he has a lower paying job than you, it could still work if you have these other factors. However, if you feel that he is lazy or doesn’t seem motivated to improve his condition, then chances are you will eventually resent him.

Our families cannot decide who we date or marry, but sometimes they do see things from an outside perspective that can be helpful. In the end, you are the one in the relationship and you have to trust your own instincts. If he brings enough to the table that you can imagine a happy future together then go for it, but if you have reservations and don’t have much dating experience to compare it to, it might really be worth taking some time to meet other guys and see how you feel when you are with them. Don’t rush yourself to make a decision and think about your future and what is most important to you. If there’s too much stacked against this particular relationship, have faith that you will find a better match.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts


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