The goal is to have a relationship that brings out the best in both you and your partner. You grow together, appreciating each other’s quirks and differences, and supporting each other through life’s challenges.
What can go wrong?
There can be a failure in recognising that you are still separate people with individual goals, aspirations, commitments, friends and interests. Therefore you need to have boundaries.
To gauge whether there are healthy boundaries between you and your partner, try arranging an activity or event without your partner. For example, you have decided that this Saturday, you are going to meet up with some friends and go out for a few drinks. You tell your partner and by their reaction it will be clear how healthy the boundaries are. Does you partner get frustrated or disappointed? Do they say something like “Weekends are supposed to be our time!”, “What am I going to do?”, “You know I don’t like it when you go out with those friends”.
These are all bad signs, because your partner is taking direct responsibility for your decisions. Occasionally spending time away from your partner is a good thing. It gives you both space and you get the chance to miss each other. You don’t feel resentful because you are not being prevented from doing the things that you want to do.
Relationships take effort, nobody starts a business, well a successful one at least, assuming that they will not have to put any work in. But when it comes to relationships we assume we can just present ourselves and the rest will just work out. Entering into a committed relationship is a process of emotional self-development.
Time has a magical way of eliminating superficial things, because time gives us an opportunity to look deeper. You will get to a point in a relationship where the superficial aspects no longer carry as much weight as they used to. Physically attractive men and women are plentiful, it’s the mental alignment between two individuals which is rarer and vastly more precious.
Solving issues in relationships
Your partner should be an open book, you should be able to get an honest answer to any questions and you should trust them because without trust there is no relationship. Trust is often lacking in relationships but how do you know if you lack trust in yours? Do you feel the need to look at who is liking or commenting on your partner’s social media profiles? Do you want to know who your partner keeps in contact with and why?
Because trusting someone exposes you, making you vulnerable, we try as much as possible to limit ourselves getting hurt so we engage in detective style work trying to uncover whether our partners are being honest or not. This is exhausting. Instead make an agreement with your partner about honesty, this just ensures you are both on the same page, while keeping in mind that words are meaningless if actions suggest otherwise.
The reality of relationships
We need to get away from this idea that dramatic and excessive displays of emotion are genuine displays of love. They are just signs of emotional immaturity. If I told you that I frequently got into a fist-fight with a mate of mine, you would probably questions how much of a “mate” that person really was.
So why do we accept that frequent arguments are a sign of a healthy relationship? Perhaps because there is some truth to it, they will inevitably be times when you disagree with your partner, but these shouldn’t be full-blown arguments, they could be reasonable discussions.
If you are arguing a lot, then it’s likely that there is some underlying resentment in the relationship. To uncover the big issues in your relationship requires honesty from you and your partner as well as awareness that relationships are not fixed, they are constantly evolving and changing and in order to improve them we must work at them just like our careers and our health.
There’s always something uneasy about relationships which appear “too perfect”. My favourite example is how Jay-Z and Beyonce were the ultimate couple. Then it came out that Jay-Z cheated and those cringey edited photos of them with embarrassing love quotes started disappearing.
Jealousy is the result of not really knowing enough about a person. You may look at somebody’s life and think they are smashing it. They have a great job, expensive things and a beautiful partner. We probably look at their Instagram and think “Wow, they have everything! Why can’t I have that?”
Trouble is that most people’s lives are filled with pain and adversity. Nobody is living the dream life. One of the hardest things to do in life is not compare ourselves to others. If we look at others it should be for inspiration and to learn. Jealousy leads to nothing worthwhile.
Can you break up with someone out of love?
A relationship is a journey that you and your partner embark on together. If you recognise that the relationship is actually bringing out the worst in you, then ending the relationship would be a wise decision.
Remember that relationships are a choice, not an obligation.
Before breaking up, it’s expected that you will try to have an open conversation about how you feel, speak to friends and family and look inwards at how you are potentially contributing to the dysfunction to the relationship. But if you have come to the conclusion that the relationship is becoming a burden on your life, then it’s time to leave gracefully. Break-ups will always hurt but if we are doing it for a good reason then it becomes easier to manage the pain and use it to fuel our ambition of becoming a better person.
Inspiration: Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Image credit: Irene Felio