There's a writer by the name of Fredrik Backman who once said something that, I think, is the perfect way to start all of this off— "Everything is complicated if no one explains it to you." Believe you me, if anyone has the T-shirt, bumper sticker and coffee mug for what it means to be in a complicated relationship with a man, it is I.
But as I sit and reflect on a semi-recent conversation that I had with a man who had once broken my heart into a million pieces—insert "Why You Should Be Grateful 'He' Didn't Choose You" here—after he reached out and I asked him, "What do you want?" (at this point?) and he had no answer (dude…really?!), I get that a part of why I had been hurt is because our relationship has always been complicated (difficult to analyze, understand, explain, etc.). The reason why that was the case is because I was more interested in being involved with him than focusing on what I should do to make my life—including my love life—simpler.
Back when I was all caught up in his and mine's hamster wheel, I didn't have enough sense—or even self-love, really—to look up articles like this one. But sometimes, life allows things to happen to us so that we are able to spare others the heartache, drama and wasted time.
Sis, if "complicated" (or some variation of that) is the best way to currently describe what you're in, love yourself enough to ask yourself the following six questions. Trust me, once you have the right answers in tow, you'll realize that things aren't nearly as complicated as you thought. You just have to decide if you want more/better or…not. It really is just that simple.
Did Things Start Off Complicated to Begin With?Giphy
You know what they say—how relationships start can oftentimes provide a forecast for how they will remain. When it comes to what makes a relationship complicated, I'd say that some of the dynamics that top the list include friends with benefits, dating an ex, messing around with someone who's already in a relationship, getting involved in a long-distance relationship and seeing someone without having a clue about what you want (or don't want) from them or the relationship as a whole.
If you and "yours" happen to fit the bill as it relates to any of these dynamics, the first thing that you should do is sit down and have a chat about if how you started is how you want things to stay. If it's not, it's time to A) take things to the next level; B) take a step back and reevaluate or C) end things altogether. Something that all of these choices have in common is they simplify matters. Significantly so.
Are You Getting All That You Truly Want in a Relationship?
I haven't been on Facebook in years, so y'all would have to tell me if you can still state whether your relationship is complicated or not. What I do know is back when I was on social media and people would inbox me about their complex situations, more times than not, what was "difficult to analyze" is if they were truly getting what they wanted out of their situation or not. And, if they were willing to wait it out to see if things would change…or not.
If this is what has you stumped, a while back, I wrote an article on here entitled "Are You in Love or Are You in Need?" One way to tell the difference between the two is if you are remaining in something that isn't truly fulfilling you, just so you don't have to be alone (or without "him" on some level). Trust me, when you are staying with someone who isn't giving you what you desire, that is a form of self-betrayal. To keep ignoring this reality is complicating your life, to say the least.
If You Aren’t, Are You Compromising or Settling?
A female writer by the name of Elizabeth Kostova once said something that definitely garners an "ouch" response—"Recently abandoned women can be complicated." I don't know about you, but I know there have been times when the pain of a break-up was so excruciating that I would get involved in "something" with someone else, just so it could serve as a distraction. Usually, that something was a form of settling. And, since I knew I was settling, the relationship was complicated. Settling is always complicated.
How can you know the difference between compromising in order to make a relationship work and settling just so you don't have to be alone? Compromising usually involves being with someone who isn't perfect but, in many ways, is perfect for you. They add to your life, you add to theirs and you both work together to make it work. Settling is when you know, out the gate, that you're not getting all of what you need or want; still, you're putting up with "it" anyway because you've somehow convinced yourself that something is better than nothing. (See the drastic difference?)
Although Titles Aren’t Mandatory, Why Don’t YOU Have One?
I once read that couples who are into PDA aren't really doing it because they don't know how to keep their hands off of each other. It's actually because they want to show off; they want to prove to others that they have someone or that someone finds them attractive and appealing. Well, when a person pressures their partner to put a "title" on their relationship—especially once they are over 35 or so—sometimes I wonder if there are some deep-rooted insecurities going on there too. If both folks are clear about what's going on, is a title really all that necessary?
There is one exception to this. It's if what you're in is so confusing that you need a title for clarity's sake. If when you present this very point to the guy that you're seeing and he finds every way underneath the sun to deflect from the issue at hand. If that's what's going on, there's a big possibility that he doesn't want a title because he doesn't want the accountability that comes along with it. And if you choose to stay involved with someone who doesn't want to be held responsible for much, sis, "complex" is just the tip of the iceberg of the problems you've got in store.
When Friends Ask What Y’all Are Doing, Can You Easily Explain It?Giphy
A telling sign that a relationship is super complex is when the two people in it can't explain what the heck is going on in two sentences or less and/or there's a whole lot of awkward silence, followed by "I mean…", "It's kinda like", followed by sighs and other sounds of frustration.
When two individuals are on the same page about what they are doing and why, there is no confusion. Therefore, when one of their friends asks what's up, the answers are simply "We're dating", "That's my boyfriend", "We're taking it slow while we're figuring some things out" or even "That's my 'blue light special'" (my love uncle says that's someone who creeps in after dark and slips out before dawn). If you're not able to give a basic reply or you find yourself low-key poppin' off on your friend who's asking because you're basically embarrassed that you have no idea what's going on, it's time to ask your own self what you and he are doing. Then follow that question up with if that's good enough or not.
Is It Complicated? Or Are You Simply in Denial?
As I already shared, the last man to break my heart, in many ways, we were the walking definition of complicated. In fact, it wasn't uncommon for him to refer to me as "a complicated bird". Anyway, we had a recent chat, just to get everything out and see if there was anything worth salvaging, even on the platonic tip. Now that the rose-colored glasses are gone, as I was listening to him, I realized that our relationship wasn't complicated; I just didn't want to see everything for what it was. As relationship coach Derrick Jaxn recently said—and by "said", I mean warned— about men who tell us that we are too good for them even though they don't really want to let us go, "We confuse the presence of a conscience with the presence of a good person." (LISTEN.)
If you like a guy but all that he's giving you is sex, is the relationship complicated or do you simply not want to admit that you're not going to get much more out of him?
If you are seeing someone who told you that he loves you and he's not interested in anything serious, is the relationship complicated or are you simply refusing to take him at his word?
If you've been with someone for a couple of years now and nothing is progressing, are things complicated or do you simply not want to accept that things are stagnant because he has no long-term plans for you?
I know what it's like to think that something simple is complicated simply because I'm in denial. But you know what? The moment I started accepting the facts, truths and realities of what I was doing and what wasn't doing, the grey clouds in my head cleared up and life got oh-so-much simpler. Brighter too.
Ask yourself, point blank—is your relationship (or situationship) really all that "complicated"? Or are you not wanting to deal with your own facts, truths and realities? The answer to that will change everything for you. It will make things simpler too. I guarantee it.
Featured image by Getty Images