In pretty much any relationship, you reach a crossroads where you have to make one of two choices: Decide you and your significant other aren't compatible and part ways, or accept each other's flaws — even if they're major — and try to make it work. You may even have to make this decision several times throughout a relationship, with the stakes getting higher and higher the longer you're together.
Yep, being in a relationship is hard! Any worthwhile love story will contain obstacles, both big and small, but it's amazing what couples can survive. We see this dynamic play out on an epic scale in The Light Between Oceans , the much-anticipated film based on M.L. Stedman's best-seller of the same name.
Luckily, most of our lives typically aren't quite as dramatic. The obstacles we face in our own relationships might be small (a thoughtless birthday gift, an annoying habit) or something bigger (differences in values, incompatible goals for the future). To get an idea of the kinds of things that are "dealbreakers!" and things that aren't, we took to the streets of New York with a whiteboard and marker in hand to ask strangers what their own relationships have endured. Their answers may surprise you! Make sure to catch The Light Between Oceans, in theatres Sept. 2.
The Small Stuff
Early on in any relationship, tiny little conflicts might come up, but even those might derail a weak connection. But if you have a bond worth fighting for, you can definitely withstand the small stuff. We met one young woman in Union Square who was binge-ing her favorite show with her boyfriend, but he sneakily went ahead and watched episodes without her ... which is The Ultimate Betrayal! But one you can easily forgive (depending on the show!).
Or take this grad student in Washington Square Park whose boyfriend left on a two-month biking trip in Africa without him. Sometimes, you have to let your S.O. pursue his own interests, even if they're ones you don't share with him.
The Big Little Things
There are also problems that seem trivial but may reveal some fundamental issues. One writer (left) dated a visual artist who didn't read books — it wasn't that he couldn't read, but he chose not to in his spare time. That revealed not just a difference in hobbies, but a difference in the way they view the world and chose to express themselves. But that still didn't break them up.
We also talked to a painter (left) who got kicked out of his apartment on the same day as his girlfriend. Instead of immediately looking for a new home together, they decided to whisk themselves off to Paris on an impromptu getaway. They had a great, romantic time, but their temporary homelessness was waiting for them when they returned to the States. Not only did their relationship withstand some major uncertainty and upheaval, but it also survived international travel — always a big test for any couple!
The Deeper Issues
Then there are the things that would be deal breakers to most people, but only the people in a relationship know what's right for them. For instance, we talked to one woman who called her S.O. "crazy!" But maybe "crazy" in the right way. There's one man who is an extrovert while his girlfriend is an introvert, which could either cause friction when they're deciding whether or not to go to a party, or their opposite personalities could complement each other in unexpected ways.
One very stylish retired dancer talked about "restlessness" — which is a part of the human condition, and one that nearly everyone in a relationship struggles with.
Images: Dreamworks; Arielle Dachille / Bustle (9)