My boyfriend and I broke up a few weeks ago. The relationship was ten months old and I was in love. Although it felt like torture, I could not ignore that abrupt and sad moment when I realized the likelihood was slim that our relationship could survive.

How did I know the time had come? I reviewed the second clause in the contract I made with myself that governs my relationships. (I’ll explain the first clause in my next post.)

Clause No. 2: “You shall abide by your Five Relationship Showstoppers.”

Showstoppers are things you must have in your relationship to be happy in it. Showstoppers are important to you, because without them, the relationship feels difficult and unfulfilling. With them, the relationship feels effortless (even if it’s not).

My showstoppers:

  • Respect
  • Passion
  • Deep love
  • We bring out the best in each other
  • We can talk about anything at any time
  • The moment I notice one is missing, I take a closer look at my overall happiness in the relationship.

    We each have our own list of things we need to be happy in our relationship. The crazy thing is … very few people consciously reveal these needs to themselves, never mind revealing them to their partners. Most people “wing it” and hope for the best. Sure, it’s possible. But, would you enter a business contract without first deciding what you want from the deal? That people take such enormous risk with their heart is a mystery to me. Why people stay in relationships that drain them of their precious resources, such as love, passion, integrity, etc, is inconceivable.

    I admit that my rational self often leaves the room when the survival of my relationship is threatened. Based on three conversations about relationships I’ve had just this week, I know I am not alone here. When you love someone deeply, the last thing you want to do is leave them … even when you know the cost of being in the relationship outweighs the benefits you receive.

    No one wants their relationships to end. Because most of us fear this, we come up with all sorts of reasons to turn a blind eye. But really, is it better to be in a difficult and uncomfortable relationship than it is to be single and hopeful that the love of your life is out there waiting to meet you? Not for me.

    Showstoppers are about self-respect and holding to your integrity. The concept is a guideline that I created many years ago while I was single and visualizing my yet-to-be relationship. When I hold this fantasy relationship in my mind’s eye, it makes me feel happy and whole. I trust that it will guide me during those confusing times when my current relationship feels out of whack, when I become self-critical and wonder “is it me?”

    Showstoppers force us to prioritize our needs.

    When our partners are around us all the time, who doesn’t get irked by their idiosyncrasies? Bad moods can escalate minor issues. But you can put these matters into perspective, as long as you know your relationship priorities. If your husband suddenly starts smoking cigars at night and you can’t stand it, work it out or let it go if being with a non-smoker is not on the priority list.

    Some of my friends don’t like the term “showstopper.” They feel the concept is too structured and not romantic enough, preferring to let love take them on a wild journey. They insist that no relationship is perfect and that by creating their list they might thwart a relationship, and they are not easy to come by! Exactly. No relationship is perfect or easy to come by.

    But if we compromise our integrity just for the sake of staying in a relationship, it won’t last anyway. Maybe the term is a bit tough and too business-like. If you think so, then come up with your own phrase that means “my ingredients for a healthy relationship.”

    Really, they are “angels of tough love.” Even though my heart and ego might fight to stay longer, my showstoppers force me to stay true to myself.

    Yes, it sucks to break up. Who likes to cry for hours on end and suffer through the shock of realizing you are alone … again. But, how much time do we have for a partner who cannot meet our basic needs? It is no one’s fault.

    Hold out for true love. It might take longer to find but the wait will be well worth it.

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