Danny Lama: In Relationships, How Much Suffering is Too Much?

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Dear Danny:

I guess all romantic relationships come with an element of suffering, but how much is too much? Tonight I found myself weeping in my van, and I got no solace from any of my bumper stickers, just empty words, man. How can I measure the suffering so I know how much is too much?

—Should I Stay or Should I Go


How do you measure the suffering? Good question.

Imagine for a moment you’re the engine in your van, okay? And you have a suffering tachometer. If you rev the engine too high for too long, it blows (literally and figuratively). One day you find yourself on the side of the road sobbing uncontrollably or just, you know, freaking out, man.

Open the hood. Take a look at your internal coolant reservoir—it’s like your internal resiliency—those minimum and maximum lines are no joke, okay? If everything is well-maintained, that engine can rev near the red line for a while. But not, like, indefinitely, man. You need variation and rest, not constant red-lining. Plus the outside temperature is a factor—the overall situation, you know?

So the warning lights are flashing and, in a car, those lights have really clear meanings, but with yourself it’s less obvious and you have to parse it out, man.

So pay attention to your thoughts. Just observe your thoughts like you would a gauge on your dashboard. Your thoughts are your indicators, man. When you’re revving too high with angry thoughts, you’re suffering too much, man. How much is too much? Only you can say for sure.

Your significant other is suffering, too. Remember that.

It’s really about preventative maintenance. You both need good diagnostic tools. That’s how you measure suffering or, you know, happiness.


Dear Danny:

Sorry to hear about your your people in Nepal. What can I do to help?

—Concerned Future Sherpa User


I’m actually Tibetan, but thanks for your concern, man. They are still my people, and yours. To send material help, pick an organization here.

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