Doubt can be a horrible feeling when it rears its ugly head in your relationship, especially for individuals who are ready to settle down with a partner. However, doubt can be beneficial in surprising ways.
Let’s look at a real case study.
Jeff and Amy have been a couple for three months now. Amy is very independent and has enjoyed spending her 20's and 30’s being single. This is her first serious relationship in 10 years. Jeff, on the other hand, can be described as a serial-monogamous with a slew of stable, long-term committed relationships in his repertoire.
Amy is growing tired of her fleeting relationships and finally feels the urge for stability. She wants a place to call home and a boy to call her boyfriend, and perhaps one day fiancé. She ponders if this may be the right time and the right guy, but doubt still laces her thoughts. Amy is stuck between two different states of being: not wanting to possibly lose the right guy for her, but still not 100% committed.
At this point in Amy's life, there are three options. First, she can breakup with Jeff and move on, living the same life she has lived for the past 35 years, possibly regretting her decision. Second, she can continue in her current doubt-riddled state of mind. Third, she can acknowledge her doubt and continue with the most positive and hopeful aspirations of the relationship succeeding. If it doesn't, she at least knows she gave it her all.
Daniel Jones, editor of the New York Times column Modern Love, has read over 50,000 essays from people sending their personal stories in dating and relationships. "The issue that most people wrestle with is doubt: doubt about what love is, about whether this is it, or doubt about why something failed," Jones says.
So, how do we work through this doubt?
Constant doubt does not allow the relationship a chance to breathe, but rather it stifles and suffocates the possibilities. Take note of what is causing the doubt to occur, then determining whether it can be overcome.
What are legitimate reasons for doubt to occur?
There is a difference between giant red flags and tiny, annoying occurrences. Red flags are situations that alert you to possible relationship obstacles impossible of being overcome. Tiny, annoying occurrences can be described as pet peeves. These little nuances should never become grounds for serious conflict and are usually accepted when in love. We all know not everyone is perfect, but it is important to distinguish deal-breakers from your partner’s quirky habits.
Not all red flags should send someone running for the hills — they can open up opportunities to add depth to your relationship. Red flags are examples of hardships you're going to have down the road – how you overcome them together can be a great indicator of your compatibility in your partnership. You have to use your best judgment when determining which issues can be sorted out and which can become serious.
People come into your life at different times for different reasons. A relationship can make you realize things about yourself and what you need out of a partnership. So, whether the relationship ultimately succeeds or not, the imperative part is learning and growing from the experience. When you start to view life as a series of experiences rather than categorizing events into success or failure boxes, a weight is lifted and your perspective shifts. You can now relax, enjoy, and be passionate in life and in your relationships, whether they are fleeting or permanent.
Some people view doubt as something that shouldn’t happen in the right relationship, but that just isn’t true. It’s natural to feel doubt in a relationship. Too many people throw in the towel without realizing that all relationships take work – there will never be a perfect relationship without any issues. The real questions are, do you have a solid foundation with your partner (the same values, life goals, etc) and are both partners willing to work on the relationship?
When you approach your doubt from this angle, your perspective shifts from helpless and hopeless to proactive and hopeful. It takes courage to confront your fears and doubt and have a real conversation. It’s not easy. It may be the hardest conversation you’ll ever have, but it will also be the most rewarding. Know that relationships take dedication, work, and hard conversations. Relationships are works of art; always changing and evolving, and it takes both partners to constantly be engaged for the partnership to work.