Love It or List It: An Analogy For The Long-Term Relationship

Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Information.

So you’re in a long-term relationship. The early glow of your relationship has since faded to a reliable dull. Date nights are few and far between. Sex is even less common. You’re not exactly unhappy until you begin questioning whether or not you deserve more in life, and in that moment you can become unhappy enough to fuel the internal question that you do your best to avoid asking: Should I stay in this relationship or is it time to go?

It’s not dissimilar to HG’s show, Love It or List It, really. In it, “a homeowning couple or family has to decide between keeping their newly renovated current home (‘Love It’) or to buy a new home and sell their current one (‘List It’),” Wikipedia.

I love this show. My heart is always with the designer, Hilary (Love It), who has the insanely difficult job of gut renovating the disgruntled homeowners’ home – a home that was a good fit many years ago but which no longer meets their needs.  Realtor David (List It) has what I believe to be a far easier job – simply find the couple a new home. How easy is that?

It’s almost as easy as walking away from your long-term relationship, and just as tempting: A brand new object to love, no compromises to make, no new skills to learn… Or so you think.

Here’s what the viewer doesn’t see: When those families move to their new, shiny home, they have to take themselves. They think the issue was their small, cluttered, worn-out home and that moving is their panacea. You give that family 6 months and they’re going to be griping over the same old issues, because the real issues were never addressed and certainly never eradicated.

Long-term relationships require work. In much the same way that the interior of your home needs to be repainted every few years (lest you become the disgruntled homeowner), you need to keep yourself looking and behaving well. You need to focus less on your partner’s faults and more on developing yourself to be the best partner you can be. Because the answer is rarely that we picked the wrong home or partner. And of course, every now and then there truly is a poor fit because we’ve outgrown what we once loved. But rest assured, before you go shopping for a newer version, you’d better confirm you’ve learned some new skills and taken your own inventory. Because if you move into a new home and fail to employ a new organizational system to keep your space clutter-free, you’ll have the same issues pop up in no time at all. And what will you do then? Blame it on another bad choice?