Some say that anything worth having is worth fighting for. Others say that true love should feel easy. Clearly, given these contradictions, it can be super challenging to figure out whether it’s worth attempting to save a relationship when it's not working, or whether you should simply admit defeat and move on. So, should you have to fight for a relationship? The answer is a tad complicated because it depends on your specific circumstances. But fortunately, there is a fairly straightforward way to figure it out.
According to prominent couples' therapist Dr. Gary Brown, fighting for your relationship requires trust, vulnerability, courage, kindness, and gratitude. As such, the question inevitably becomes: Is your relationship worth mustering up all of those things? Are you getting them in return, or only giving them? If those elements aren't being reciprocated, then you may be in a one-sided relationship, and it’s impossible to fight for something when your teammate isn’t pulling their weight. On the other hand, if your boo has demonstrated that they are equally invested in the relationship, then it could very well be worth sticking it out.
“Fighting for your relationship means that you don't give up because things aren't always great between the two of you,” explains Dr. Brown. “It means sticking with your partner through good times and bad.”
Let’s be clear — this doesn’t mean that you should stay with someone who is mistreating you. If you feel disrespected or otherwise abused, then you absolutely have the right to leave the relationship as soon as you're ready to. What Dr. Brown is getting at is that it’s normal to go through a rough patch — in fact, almost all couples, even those in the best of relationships, do at some point or another. But while “bad times” might mean facing financial stressors because one partner lost a job or struggling with a disparity in sexual needs, for example, they should never entail any threats to your physical or emotional well-being.
“It is not worth fighting for a toxic relationship,” says Dr. Brown. “Nor is it worth it for a relationship where there you fight constantly.”
Ultimately, the best way to figure out if your relationship is worth fighting for is to look at the big picture and use what you know to assess your potential for the future. Even if you’ve been bickering a lot more lately, your sex life has been lackluster (or nonexistent), or your communication has just been off, try to take a step back and evaluate how relationship on the whole. If it’s been a happy, healthy relationship and the current conditions are the exception to the rule, then you’re probably in a temporary phase — one that may pass, provided you both are willing to weather the storm. So, just because you’ve encountered some problems lately doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to walk away. Because if you’ve built a strong foundation that’s based on trust and mutual respect, then you could have a solid shot at re-harnessing the relationship you both want.
Last but certainly not least, Dr. Brown says there’s one more thing to consider when determining whether you should stick it out with your current boo: your like-mindedness.
“You know it is worth fighting for if you are compatible in at least 80% of the things that are important for each of you — including your values and your general outlook on life,” he adds.
In other words, you and bae don’t need to see eye to eye on every little thing. However, if you have vastly different priorities or goals for the future, and neither of you is willing to bend, then you may be fighting for something that’s not built to last long-term.
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but in order to survive the low points — and better yet, come out stronger on the other side — both partners need to be on board with making changes and striking compromises. If you and your SO are both capable of taking accountability for your own actions and behavior and putting in the necessary work to get back on track, then certainly, your relationship may be worth fighting for. Remember: every relationship is a two-way street, which means it’s probably not going to work if the effort is only coming from one direction.
The bottom line is, only you can know whether your relationship is worth fighting for. But taking the nature of your current problems and your overall compatibility into account can definitely help to guide your decision. Most importantly, remember that if you’re going to fight for the relationship, you deserve a partner that’s willing to go to battle with you.