In other words, why do otherwise smart, funny, successful, wholesome people stay in relationships that seem—to outside observers anyway—anything but fulfilling?
I wonder this a lot when I get questions from blog readers because most people do a really good job of making their spouses seem absolutely despicable when they write to me. Rather than offer advice, I’m often tempted to ask, “And you want to continue this relationship because?”
Do you know anyone in this type of relationship? Maybe a good friend. You continually think, “Why is she WITH him? Why?!?”
One of my girlfriends swears the answer this conundrum is the “magic schlong.” If a guy has no job, no social graces, no good looks, no wit, and no personality and a woman stays with him anyway? He must be good in bed. Based on this theory, if a woman is having all sorts of orgasms, she’s a lot more likely to overlook all of the other details. She’s so sexually satisfied that nothing gets on her nerves. So what if the guy is a racist, a drunk or a womanizer? He’s still keeping her happy in bed.
I have to say, The Magic Schlong theory certainly does describe one of my most dysfunctional relationships, so my friend might very well be onto something.
But I think something more might be at play. Now, this is going to sound all deep and whatnot, but I think that every relationship teaches us something. We are attracted to people who are bad for us because they have something to teach us, perhaps about self-respect or assertiveness or any number of other things. So, in the end, they are actually good for us, assuming we actually absorb the lesson that they have to teach us.
Or I might just be on crack.
I really wanted to offer some helpful marital advice today, but I just wasn’t inspired. So I decided to start a Reader Participation Day instead. Today is your chance to be the expert. Let me know your thoughts. Why do you think so many people stay mired in bad relationships? Once such people realize that they are miserable, what should they do to finally get out and move on? And how do they stop the cycle?
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.