Relationships are a part of our identity. It could be the relationship with our friends or family, our children, our significant other or any other relationship you can point out in your life. Relationships are important in developing who we are and how we interact with others on various levels.
We learn about relationships immediately in our lives starting with those that provide our care and fulfill our needs starting with infancy. The first lesson in life is that we have needs that must be met in order to survive. As our needs change, based on growth and development, the relationships multiply and may become complex. Ideally, the needs between those within a relationship develop into a two-way street. One side of the street gives while the other takes and theoretically each party takes turns on either side of the road. This is how relationships become mutual agreements.
Think of relationships as an investment…and a return.
Healthy relationships require two people to balance the giving and taking. There is really no other way about it and it does not matter the relationship. Platonic. Romantic. Familial. Friendship. You name it they all require traffic to flow in two directions. The type of relationship will determine the role each person will fulfill – or in other words the needs that need to be met.
I would not venture to say that any single relationship is necessarily easier than another or that one is of lesser value. That is for you to decide as it makes sense in your life. The relationship centered on romantic love is likely the one that makes the most impact on your life and therefore can easily be seen as the most challenging of all relationships. But, it is fair to keep in mind sometimes we make things more difficult than they are due to where we position our focus. (Let the sink in…)
The problem with romantic love is the vision we all have of what it is supposed to be. Growing up we get this fantastical vision of what love is going to be based on what we see on the television or in the movies: “True love”. “Love of a lifetime”. “Soulmate”. “Happily ever after”. “Extreme acts of love”. There is this repetitive idea that love is riddled with exciting emotional climaxes completed with “happy ever after endings” and anything less is not considered “love.”
In the no-nonsense words of Sherman T. Potter from the sitcom M*A*S*H…
While no one really likes rules here are 3 pieces of insight to remind you why relationships are tougher than they appear on the boob-tube or the silver screen:
First rule of relationships: Don’t compare your life to what you see on television (or anyone else, really).
By using comparisons you will remain forever single or accumulate wasteful relationships due to unrealistic expectations of others. Besides, that one relationship in your life that you get to choose and is meant to last a lifetime is not going to be comparable to what you see on tv. It should be better because it will be real. It will be yours. It will be incredibly joyous. It will be incredibly painful. It will be based on the choices you and your partner make rather than a room of writers trying to score a paycheck or franchise opportunity.
Second rule of relationships: If you don’t know who you are don’t be surprised if you find someone that tells you who you are.
This is the making of an unhealthy relationship, one of abusive co-dependency. Knowing who you are, being able to identify yourself will help in keeping the bad ones away and attract the good ones. If you don’t know who you are you won’t know what you can offer another. Rest assured that there are PLENTY out there who are thrilled to tell you who you are; its called control and can create a cycle of abuse that is difficult to break free from.
Third rule of relationships: Don’t confuse being alone with loneliness.
One is a status and the other is a feeling. Being alone doesn’t mean anything other than you are single. You aren’t a loser nor are you aren’t incomplete. You are just flying solo and that is a good thing until you find the person that aligns with you, not defines you. Loneliness, on the other hand, is a side effect of a breakup. At some point, that lonely feeling hits you and it is uncomfortable. It is that uncomfy feeling that can be a driving force influencing decisions that are not in your best interests. This is the reason so many tell you to WAIT between relationships allowing you to avoid doing yourself a romantic disservice.
Relationships, specifically the romantic ones, are tough. They are tougher if you are not ready to embrace you for you and therefore have it embraced by others. Because of what we have seen over and over again, there is this misconception that our love life should be based on being “saved” by that fictional “white knight in shining armor”. Relationships are not about being saved by another. They are not about completing each other. They are about alignment between two people and how that works to compliment one another. It is not a matter of forcing it or learning how to do it. It is a matter of when you are ready to do it.
You can do it.