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You Asked: Has Our Relationship Run Its Course?

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I have been together for five years and we’ve been through a lot already. Lately though, I’ve been contemplating whether or not we should keep this relationship going or if we have come to the end and are just denying it to ourselves. Love is not the problem because we really do love each other, but sometimes I feel that it's the only reason I want to stay with him. First of all, he has a job, but it is not stable so I fear that I won’t I have a financially stable future with him. Secondly, we fight three out of the five times we see each other. Usually it’s just about the small things, but sometimes I end up questioning our compatibility.

With our relationship, the saying “when it’s good, it’s good but when it’s bad, it’s bad” applies. We have broken up many times in the past few months but we keep getting back together because we love each other so much. While I don’t want to lose him, I don't want to continue on this path of doubt. Do you have any advice? — Cautious Caroline

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Cautious Caroline,

Many people feel that love conquers all, but that's not always the case. Compatibility is a major factor in maintaining a long lasting relationship, but so is respect, compassion, and trust, so if you're doubting all those characteristics in your relationship, something must change. While financial stability is surely comforting, relying on someone else for that is a little dangerous in my opinion. Many people are struggling with job security right now, so I'd make sure you can rely on yourself before anyone else.

As we all know, some fighting in a relationship is perfectly normal, but it sounds like you're not fighting more than you're getting along. You say it's usually over the small stuff so if you want this to work, you're both going to have to make an effort to break the cycle.

Only you will know if this relationship has ran its course, but since you clearly love each other, I wouldn't give up without giving it a fighting chance. If breaking the pattern isn't happening on your own, you might want to consider couples counseling so you can communicate with an unbiased mediator who might be able to see something neither of you can. Hopefully this is something that can be worked out, but if not, at least you'll know you tried. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
Mamis03 Mamis03 8 years
I went through the exact same problems you are. I have been with my boyfriend for 5 years. On and off,like you and usually the breakups are for petty things. We got really tired and decided to either make a real effort or let it go once and for all. We talked seriously about the problem and what we both needed to do to change the cycle. He committed and we both put enough effort into the relationship.We moved in together and although no relationship is perfec t and we still argue,we don't take it as far as we used to. We learned what each other needs and how to deal with the bad moments. I stondgly agree with Chrstne!! That is exactly what we do now. We learned when one is having a bad day and get upset about something petty, the other does not lash out. We wait and then once we are calm, we talk about it. Staying quite doesn't mean you are letting the other win or makes you any less of a woman or man. Most of the time, choosing not to argue, makes the difference. I wish you the best of luck. I am now happy and became closer to my boyfriend, even thinking marriage. Good luck!!
LoveSarah LoveSarah 8 years
Maybe try couples therapy? My boyfriend and I have been together for over 3 years, and we went through a rough patch like that, and therapy really helped us learn how to talk to each other and things have been great ever since!
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Great advice...
jazzytummy jazzytummy 8 years
*I have to ask myself, how much work? Sugar, get that edit feature....GRRRRRR!!!!!!!
jazzytummy jazzytummy 8 years
I agree with plus 2 kid. I can never understand when I hear friends griping constantly about their men, then they just say, "well, relationships are alot or work". I get that, you have to compromise, etc., but everytime I hear that I have myself, how much work? If the "work" you put into it outweighs the joy you receive from it, what it the point? To me, if it is that much work, you are probably not with the right person. Although I agree that people should not throw in the towel when things get rocky, I also think there comes a time when there is a stalemate and there is no progress, no moving forward. If you fight 3 out of 5 times that you see each other, you can try counseling, but I personally think it is time for a separation to figure out what you each want.
aerogirlk aerogirlk 8 years
Pd: never depend on a guy economycally, if you marry him and get divorced in the future you'll regret it.
aerogirlk aerogirlk 8 years
Well, first of all let me tell you that I really understand whay you're going through because I'm in the same kind of relactionship with my boyfriend I do really love him, and he loves me too. But it's true, love is not always enough... We're engaged already and we're planning to move in together. But we fight all the time, basically about stupid things and everytime we do, even tough it's about a silly thing he asks me if I wanna break up. I love him, he's the guy that I'd like to be with the rest of my like, but unfortunatelly he's really immature (anyway I'm 20 and he''s 21) He wants to have kids and he doesn't even have a stable job, besides he's pretty jealous and he doesn't let me see my bests friends a lot and that's the thing that gets me more upset. The thing is that if I were you I'd talke to him about it, it's always the best choice leting him know how you feel and maybe you could work things out.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
..and to the OP, if a tough time is the only thing it took to make me give up on my relationship, then I would be ending mine right now. No relationship is perfect, and just because people hit spots where they feel angry or resentment doesn't mean to end the relationship, it means to work on the relationship. If people gave up rather than try to resolve issues then no one would have a long term boyfriend or girlfriend, or even get married. I know you truly feel like it may have run it's course, but if you ended it, you might regret it -- and breaking up and then getting back together breeds mistrust. My boyfriend of 2 years broke up with me, because he said he "didn't love me". He wanted to not see each other anymore (and we lived together). Days later he wanted to be my boyfriend, 2 weeks later he apologized and said he loved me. What did he say other than that? Maybe he mistook being comfortable for being bored -- and he kind of resented me for it. As you can see, it shook a foundation, but I am working on it. His actions made me feel so small. Don't make a decision hastily. You can ruin a lot more than your relationship by doing that.
baybelle baybelle 8 years
I was with a man I loved and was engaged to way longer than I should have been. It was really tough to break off the relationship because we really loved one another, but it was becoming too hard to keep it sane. It took me time to get over him, won't kid you about that, but the relationship I am in now makes me realise just how wrong that one was... thank god I had to courage to look further. Another thing to chew on - we often say we are together because of love, but more often it's because of familiarity and the fear of facing the unknown on your own.
amerikanbeanhead amerikanbeanhead 8 years
Its over Love cant conquer everything
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
plus_2_kid is a genius.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Well, all this love hasn't saved your relationship now has it? Figure out what it is that you really want because all the love in the world apparently still has you miserable.
khadeekiinsz khadeekiinsz 8 years
P.S I dont think she has been doubting this relationship for all the 5 years. She said "lately"
khadeekiinsz khadeekiinsz 8 years
For the people who said "end it now". I disagree, I think Chrstne had the best advice. I can't say END IT, because non of us know the situation at full. I'd say you guys need to sit and have a serious conversation, and look at each other's perspective. Relationships have their goods and their bads, but its how you are able to handle the bads, and get past them that counts. I would write down EVERY single good thing about the relationship. Even stuff from the very begginning, like the first kiss, And ask yourself why you fell in love with this guy. All the things that make you laugh, and smile. Then write down all the bad things, and see if they outweigh. Is he your best friend? can you see him being the father of your children? Have like a renewal date or something. If you guys been together for 5 years, there is obviously something special and it should be preserved.
Muirnea Muirnea 8 years
I agree with bluestart that usually breaking up and getting back together tells you something is seriously wrong. In my experience at least. And I don't think love makes a relationship. You do have to be compatible in many other ways, and that stuff is really important to me. You just have to decide what's the most important to you. Fighting 3 time out of 5 seems pretty bad to me, even if it's just little stuff. My ex and I were like that, madly in love (at least I was), best friends, but we fought about stuff all the time. We just didn't see life the same way, we didn't agree on a lot of stuff, so there was just no way it would work. To me, you have to be mostly compatible with the person, then comes the importance of love. I think if you are questioning the relationship this much after 5 years, maybe it has run it's course.
bluestar bluestar 8 years
The answer is the fact that you break up and get back together. It's over, sorry. :(
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
I'm going to give you a straight answer: Yes, it has run it's course. End it. Here's why: Being "in love" is not the end-all be-all in a relationship. This is a myth. You can truly deeply love one another and not be compatible for a relationship. I was in a 7 year relationship with a man that towards the end (read: last 3 years) was full of fighting and stress and bickering BUT we stayed together because we loved each other and were one another's best friends. This kept us together longer than we should have been. Once it was over and when I was in a new relationship it was SO eye-opening. I hadn't realized HOW bad my old relationship really was. I had just gotten used to it. All of a sudden I realized how much easier things can be, how much happier I was. It's true that you have to work at love, but if love becomes NOTHING but hard work, you have to question if it is worth it. Compatibility on many levels is under-rated while love is overrated.
krae85 krae85 8 years
I don't think I could deal with so much fighting. My husband and I bicker some times, but I don't like arguing in the first place, and especially not with the person I love. I'm not sure my personal definition of love includes "someone I fight with 3 out of 5 times we see each other." I just don't know about this one, I can't relate at all.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
p.s. and yes, I offered counseling to my ex and he refused. so at that point there is nothing more to do than to move on. I recommend you suggest counseling. It will help with knowing what to do.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
If you're at all doubting, don't stay with him. Can you picture your relationship after 50 years together? If not, leave. If you are at all considering marriage, I say look elsewhere. I'm sorry if this is harsh but I went through the same thing earlier this year and I am now with the love of my life!! -so I'm very happy I let my ex go, even though we loved each other deeply - we just weren't very compatible in the long run. Good luck!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
Forget everything else like finances and just ask yourself if you can spend the next 50 years the way you have spent the last 5, and you have your answer. I was in a situation once where I was so "in love" and even though the relationship sucked I stayed because I felt like he was my "soulmate." I finally realized that soulmate or not, I couldn't live my life like that anymore. It was exhausting. The constant fighting, over NOTHING. The highs and the lows. Some people will be okay with that in the name of "love" but it exhausted me. I didn't want to raise a family in an environment like that. I didn't want to fight 60% of the time for the rest of my life. Of course leaving wasn't easy. In the end, I saw that it was more of an addiction to each other than it was love. Once the spell was broken I could clearly see that it wasn't meant to be, but it took time.
cherry-peel cherry-peel 8 years
I don't know, five years is a long time, it seems like you should know by now if this is someone you want to be with for the rest of your life. It's okay to have doubts, but five years of doubts is worrisome. You just need to decide, does the good outweigh the bad? Everyone fights (if you never fight then your probably not communicating enough) but it depends on how often and how well you handle arguments. I know that in my marriage we'll have periods of time where it seems like we're fighting ALL the time. Relationships certianly have their ups and downs, but if during the down times your thinking you want out of the relationship, that's a bad sign. Like I said, the good things in your relationship should far, far outweight the bad. You could even try keeping track of how often you really do fight, in your planner or something, maybe your not fighting as often as you think! Good luck and I hope it works out!
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 8 years
great advice chrstne!
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
Only you know if it's run it's course. Love is never enough in a relationship, you need a lot more than that...but if you've been together 5 years and you both love each other, it seems foolish to give up. Every couple goes through a rough patch, this may be yours. You should take a look at both of your actions and see what needs to change, it would also help bringing up the issues you worry about so you can get it off your chest. Pick your battles. If he gets uppity about the kitchen being a mess, don't lash out, just take a deep breath, and mind your words. If you're doubting the relationship in the end, well then fine, leave it. But for now, doubting is not something to just take. You can maybe find out how he feels and see where you go from there. I have always found it to be better to talk to my boyfriend if I am worrying about us or something going on rather than keeping it to myself. He always managed to comfort me and ease a lot of the fear. Maybe you just need something as simple as that to let you know that it's worth fighting for.
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