Why Your Relationship Sucks

What better time to resurrect the rotting body of my blog than the upcoming day of commoditized love? As an eternal bachelor by choice, I’m also uniquely qualified to provide you with an in-depth analysis on why your, yes, exactly your relationship sucks and is most likely to fail in the upcoming months. Don’t believe me? Just wait and see. You have been warned.

Among the blind, the one-eyed is king.
This is our baseline. You are the blind, obviously.
Over the course of my adult life, I have spent hundreds of hours listening to complaints about the dating and relationship world of my friends, random strangers I met half-sober at a bar in the middle of the night or your m…no, that last one is private. I’m very mature.

At the same time, I also spent an equal amount of time providing free advice on why those complaints and problems arose and explained in detail how to fix it. Somehow I feel like I got the worse end of that bargain, but what the heck, I’m too nice for my own good and simply love helping people to live up to their full potential.
With this spirit in mind, you, my dear reader, will now encounter the unique opportunity of diving into the distilled version of more than ten years of cynical couple’s therapy. Enjoy.

It’s Not Witchcraft, Sherlock

Before I start, a word of warning. If you expect to find mind-blowing new insights into why your relationships sucks and how to fix it, you will be disappointed. Pretty much everything I am going to tell you here, is utterly trivial. In fact, it’s so much common knowledge, that I’m continuously baffled about the complete disregard of these very obvious ideas.
Almost every relationship suffers (or thrives) because of a few key performance indicators. Yes, I totally just compared a romantic relationship with a commercial business. Sue me.

But to avoid confusion, let’s change the term a bit. My vote goes to Romantic Performance Indicators – RPIs.
We could assign some arbitrary numerical values to each of them, but that’s not really useful since people’s experiences and needs differ and those values would have no meaning beyond satisfying a weird craving for putting neat little numbers on everything. I prefer to speak in ranges of low, average or high and everyone can decide for themselves what that entails.

Dating – Or Welcome To Hell

For my friends it’s an open secret that I despise the classical idea of dating. Person A meets Person B for a selected activity, they talk and try to figure out if they want to lick each other’s private parts. We truly are the descendants of monkeys.

“But, oh wisest of all sages, that doesn’t sound too bad. What’s there to despise?”, you may ask.
Fear not, my child, for I have the answer you are so desperately looking for.
The biggest problem I have with this idea is its focus on hyper-efficiency. Decide in just a few weeks whether I like the other person enough to wake up next to their messed up face and how they won’t run when they see mine. Ideally for the next couple of years or eternity.
I don’t know about you, but I usually need a lot more time before I have the feeling that I actually know someone and am aware of their issues and weird behaviours than just a few weeks or months.
I mean, what do you really know about the other person after this short period of time?

Let me introduce you to my number one reason why your relationship sucks: you move too fast.
I see absolutely no problem with casual dating, friends with benefits, one-night stands and so on. We are horny monkeys and as such we deserve to treat ourselves from time to time.
But as soon as we reach the territory of serious romantic relationships with an ideal half-life of several years until death, things change a lot.

The one common aspect almost every un(successful) relationship I have witnessed over the course of my life was the amount of time the partners have known each other before they became romantically involved.
There is an almost linear correlation between the time before a relationship and the succeeding success and satisfaction of the same. Many times, the most successful relationships were among partners who had been good friends for quite a while beforehand. Often several months, but also a few years was not so uncommon. Eventually, they took the next step and there was far less risk involved compared to classical dating. They knew each other’s quirks, troubles, issues and needs quite well. The number of nasty surprises in those instances is very, very low.
There have been some exceptions to this rule, of course, but the vast majority still provided ample evidence of this fascinating connection.

“But, oh wisest of all sages, what if I feel that certain spark in my body which tells me that this is the one?”
Don’t worry, this is just your brain trying to convince you that you should spread your genes among the gene pool. It will pass.
In all seriousness. There is no need to rush, despite what your body and brain might be telling you. Would you prefer getting high on heroine for a few weeks until you will be another member of the famous Club 27 or ride a wave of overall increased life satisfaction for years to come? Thought so.

Why stumble from one shitty relationship right into the next one?
It’s okay to be single, despite what society or your mom tells you. Try to figure out what’s important to you first, then surround yourself with people with similar values and the rest will sort itself out. You don’t need artificially created dating scenarios and feel pressured to make a decision. How about just hang out with people you like, also called friends, and see what happens? If, at some point, you and another person realize there is maybe more to an interaction, see where this path leads you.
And if it is a good fit, I have some more ideas on how to improve it even further.

Romantic Performance Indicators

During those many (many, many, many) talks I had with people about their relationships, I noticed that, almost exclusively, each problem was caused by a lack of at least one of four fundamental aspects.

Communication. Trust. Values. Effort.

These are very unique concepts almost nobody knows about and finding them requires travelling to distant lands into mythical caves to unearth their true meaning. I told you, I’m going to blow your mind, didn’t I?
In the very likely case you tend to forget important ideas, just find some fancy abbreviation like C-TEV  or VECT.
Now that you are aware of this ancient wisdom, it’s time to take a closer look at each one.


“Have you tried to…uh…just talk about this problem?”

I cannot count the times I have asked this exact question over the years. Here we are, sitting in a bar, ordering round after round while I listen to the epic drama which is called your life. And every single time I am so confused about why so, so many people simply refuse to talk to their partner about the things they are bothered by.
What’s the worst that can happen?
They beat you to death.
Okay, if that’s the case, then I’d argue you have far bigger problems than a simple communication issue.

But if your partner doesn’t cater to rather violent problem solving, then talking to them is pretty much always a fantastic idea. After all, why would you even be in a relationship with someone you can’t talk to?
Okay, the sex might be great but beyond that? If you think sex is amazing, then you have clearly never experienced the intellectual climax one can achieve after an intense debate about a serious problem culminating in a satisfying conclusion. Your partner doesn’t recognize your specific needs and wishes? Tell them.

Contrary to popular believes, your partner usually does not posses the mind-reading capabilities of Charles Xavier. In lack of those abilities, the next best thing to do is simply telling them about your needs and what you expect them to do. It’s of the utmost importance do to this, otherwise big problems are pretty much guaranteed.
I, for example, have an intense dislike of people sleeping in the same room, let alone the same bed with me. I cannot stand their faint noises, their movements, their breathing, heck, their whole existence next to me when all I want to do is sleep, is something I try to avoid like the bubonic plague. Yet, occasionally I still ignore all of those issues, because the situation demands it and the trade-off is worthwhile. But I know that I would never be able to live like that on a permanent basis. Having separate bedrooms is one of THE ultimate relationship hacks.

Why? Because you can still sleep together, if you wish to do so but have the option to be alone, if you need some me-time. More options, more happiness, it’s really that simple. Imagine if your partner suddenly starts snoring every night and all you want to do is to drown them in a bath of acid which is usually reserved for annoying colleagues and people who put little children into big metal tubes filled with defenceless people and launch them into the air. I am fully aware that not everyone possesses the means to move into an apartment with more bedrooms. But the solution to this is very clear: just don’t move in with your partner as long as you cannot afford an apartment which reflects your individual needs. Having separate places doesn’t mean you don’t love each other enough to move in together. Quite the opposite. It means you recognize the boundaries and different needs of your partner, because you value them as a person and not a “you are supposed to make me happy” toy.

Besides, if you still feel the need to spend every waking moment in each other’s arms, because your tummy pressures you into believing that this person is literally the best thing ever happened to you, there’s nothing holding you back to do so. You can even change scenery from time to time by switching apartments. Life can be so exciting, if you don’t try to lock it into a cage. By now it should be apparent why communication is one of the most fundamental Romantic Performance Indicators in existence.

You want to make your partner happy and vice versa. But to do so, it is vital to be aware of their individual needs and why a certain behaviour might be problematic for them to deal with. If you are constantly scared to talk with your partner about serious issues, because you could “lose” them by doing so, I have to tell you that you have way bigger problems at hand. A romantic relationship based on fear is nothing more than abuse. Maybe you are into that, I’m not judging, but in the more likely case you are not, it’s probably time to move on.


Technically, this one should, as all the others, be self-explanatory. For communication to work effectively, you actually have to trust your partner. There’s no point in trying to talk about serious issues, if you cannot be sure whether the other person is straightforward with you or not.

A fitting example would be, if you tell your partner that it’s really important for you to have regular, meaningful conversations about a wide variety of topics. They agree but whenever you are trying to initiate a deeper conversation, they brush you off and start watching television instead. How are you supposed to trust someone who behaves like that? For most people, it’s probably next to impossible. At this point, I usually hear excuses.
“They will change!”
“It’s only a phase!”
“I’m giving them one more chance and see how it goes!”
This is the frustrating part in dealing with troublesome relationships. Especially the partner who’s suffering, is usually also the one who’s trying to fix things and willing to change. Even though it might not even be necessary to change in the first place, because they did absolutely nothing wrong.
If you have a partner who betrays your trust over and over again, who’s doing the exact opposite of what they said they would do and it harms you – it’s time to move on.

One thing you should always remember: you are not your partner’s therapist.
It’s not you job to fix every childhood trauma and issue they might have. You are not their emotional garbage dumpster. If they treat you like an emotional punching bag, it’s best to run as far away as possible.

Tragically, emotions are often weird and the affected people do the exact opposite. Since you are now a cynical couple’s therapist in the making, I can only prepare you that this is going to be quite frustrating to deal with. Sometimes people listen to your well-meaning advice and actually follow through with the necessary steps. But it’s far more likely that they will agree with everything you said and then choose to run head-first into the next brick wall, because maybe this time it will be different.


But let’s change the subject and move on to greener pastures.
There is this saying “opposites attract” and while that holds true for magnets, it’s utter horseshit for romantic relationships. You are not a magnet, Harry. Stop believing that someone who’s the exact opposite of you will make you happy.

This is slightly exaggerated, of course. I have been with people who definitely didn’t align with my values 100% but we still shared quite the worthwhile time together. When I talk about values, it’s more about fundamental believes, ideas and life-goals rather than smaller differences in people’s daily lives.

I, for example, dislike children a lot. They are noisy and dumb. If I want to experience people like that, I just go to a random nightclub on a Friday. But because I’m aware of my intense dislike, I simply choose other activities which bring me joy. In the same sense, it would be a complete waste of my and the other person’s time, if I started to date someone who’s intent is to start a family. At least if our goal was to stay together for a longer period of time. My partner wouldn’t be satisfied, because they knew I’d never be able to fulfil their wish of having a family and I would be miserable by not being able to make them happy. A classic lose-lose situation.

But if we agree before to just spend a few months together, have some good fun and nice experiences, then no harm done and let’s go. This kind of relationship has a clear expiration date with obvious intentions from everyone involved and it’s a healthy interaction. But this was only allowed to happen, because everyone communicated in advance what they expected and we were able to do a value-check before anything serious started. See how communication and trust play a key role in the success or failure of this relationship? It’s almost as if they are reliable Romantic Performance Indicators.
Basically, we go full circle at this point. If you trust your partner, then you should have no problems openly communicating with them about your values. Life can be so simple if you let it.

But family planning is an obvious one with clear differences. What about politics? Religion? Spirituality? Travel? Etc.?
At this point it’s vital to know how important the many areas of your life are. If you are a devout religious person, chances are, you and I will never have a romantic relationship. It’s an important topic for you and I couldn’t care less, would probably even openly mock the idea of religion itself. Definitely not a good fit.

Beware: you certainly don’t have to agree on everything. Discourse and constructive criticism are a crucial part of a healthy relationship. But if you think gay people should be shot, I’m certainly not going try to get into your pants. Few things are less attractive to me than bigotry and unjustified hate.
The key term here is nuance.

We can disagree on a lot of different topics, but some fundamental values should be aligned, otherwise I don’t see any possible future together. I’ve been there, I tried that, can’t recommend.


This is an interesting one, because it can mean a thousand things to as many people.
Personally, I would differentiate between internal and external effort. What am I willing to do to improve myself (internal) and what I’m going to do to improve our relationship (external)?
In my understanding, a romantic relationship shouldn’t be a crutch for one or both parties to magically solve their issues and past traumata. Instead, you improve each other’s lives even more by spending time and create new experiences together.

That doesn’t mean you should pack your back and be on your merry way as soon as things get difficult and your partner or yourself start to struggle. You can and should still be there for them, offer support in meaningful ways. But only up to a certain limit. If things are serious, seek professional help or encourage your partner to do so. You should never exhaust your emotional and mental resources trying to find a solution to a problem which is not yours to fix.
If your partner continues to refuse to implement the necessary changes or get the help they need, there is only so much you can do. You can try to reason with and encourage them, but in the end it’s important not to neglect your own well-being while doing so.

It may sound selfish, because it is, but your health should always be your first priority. If your partner is responsible for your emotional or physical suffering, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation with a realistic perspective. Are those problems which can be fixed without prolonging your suffering? Are you neglecting yourself in order to save them? Always keep in mind that most relationships are not forever, despite what you may wish for. If you end up scarred for life because of a fucked up relationship you tried to keep alive for far too long, nobody wins.

Set clear boundaries for yourself and what you are willing to endure. Stay true to your own rules and don’t bend them again and again, just to satisfy another person’s needs, which probably don’t align with yours very well. You don’t owe anyone anything.
It’s okay to be selfish. It’s okay to prioritize yourself first. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to end things. It’s okay to value yourself because you are worth it.

The Path Forward

There you have it. A whole essay about the most trivial ideas regarding modern relationships which somehow elude way to many people until this day. Based on my experience, I am quite confident in arguing that focusing on a high level of Romantic Performance Indicators is vital for a healthy, long-term relationship. In fact, those RPIs can even be adapted into other areas of life and will prove quite useful.

You don’t have to agree with everything I said here. The beauty of my position is, that I don’t have to live through your shitty relationship and can instead focus on cultivating my status of the eternal bachelor. If you found anything useful then I hope you will be able to implement it and thrive. In the end, all I want is for you beautiful butterflies to spread your wings and fly.

You are a decent human being. Behave accordingly.

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