Dear Winnie,

I always believed that it takes two to make a relationship work, but how can someone be committed to the relationship if the partner does not show any effort?

– A reader 


Winnie: It most certainly does take two to make a relationship work. And yes, it would be challenging to commit to a partner that does not make any effort. I wish I knew more of the backstory to your situation in order to better address your concerns, but I’ll work with what I have.

It seems to me that your main gripe is that you feel like your partner is not putting any effort into the relationship, and it’s leaving you wondering whether or not to stay in this relationship.

The fairly obvious answer is: of course you shouldn’t stay in a relationship where your partner isn’t putting in the effort and emotional labour required to keep it going. Yet, by asking me, that answer must not be obvious to you. So, the first thing I think you should do is ask yourself, “Why am I in this relationship?”

Some questions to further help you along:

• How does this relationship make you feel? Do you feel loved and cared for? Are you emotionally nourished or starved? Are you more often stressed or relaxed?

• Does your partner make you feel safe or conflicted? Are you a better or worse person when you are around your partner?

•  Is your partner aware of your unhappiness in this relationship? Do you find it easy to communicate your feelings to your partner? How does your partner respond to you? Do you feel heard?

•  When was the last time this relationship brought you joy? What were the key conditions present in that moment? What does a satisfying relationship with your partner look like?

•  What needs are not being met in this relationship?

• How is this relationship still serving you? How does it benefit you to remain in this relationship? What are the ways it makes you feel validated?

•  What beliefs and values about love and relationships are you holding on to, that are enabling you to stay in an unhappy relationship? Are you willing to challenge those beliefs in order to walk away from a toxic situation?

I have found that however unhealthy a relationship may be, a person will stay, if there is something in it that still serves them. Whether it’s hope, joy, validation, mitigating a fear of being alone – even if it exists just 10 per cent of the time, and the other 90 per cent is stress and unhappiness, that 10 per cent can be enough of a pull to cause a person to stay.

Should it be a good enough reason to stay? Only you can decide that, by figuring out what you are willing and not willing to put up with. It’s important to unpack, examine, and challenge your own reasons for still considering being in a relationship with someone you said doesn’t make any effort. Hopefully your truths will help make the answer clear. Good luck!

Tiwin Aji is a Brunei-based comedienne known for her popular web series, #WinnieonWednesday. Equipped with empathy and a preternatural knack for doling out advice, she discovered at a young age that she loved telling people what to do.

If you’d like to get her take on your dilemma, fill out the contact form below or email your questions to Answers to reader-submitted questions will be published fortnightly in the ‘Winnie Wisdom’ column. All submissions will remain anonymous.