And I’m talking about intimate, romantic relationships. You know, that kind of relationship we’re all craving for, the one that fills an invisible part of us with something that will complete us. As much as I believe that these relationships are in fact possible, I have to say that they require a great deal of emotional maturity to happen. And a lot of conscious work.
Here are 7 things I learned about these relationships. And if you’re curious, the “hard way” means I learned them the only way I know to learn things: by experiencing them.
1. Falling In Love Is Easy, Staying In Love Is Difficult
Falling in love is a big disruption of our universe. It literally means we’re “falling” in another space and that’s a huge change in our environment. Unfortunately, a lot of people expect relationships to follow the explosive pattern of the beginning. The romanticism, the surprise, the butterflies in the stomach. Well, it doesn’t. After a while, after the “attraction” part of the relationship ends, something will change, more often than not brutally. From a certain moment on, we start to see each other in a new light, the light of the partnership. So, instead of exploring this new level of the relationship, we start missing the thrill of the beginning, whereas, in fact, that thrill was just the opening act. And, instead of trying to alchemically transform that volcanic attraction into a gentle and kind blending, we hunt for more adrenaline. We cut the rope of the current relationship and we run out trying to find a new thrill. And if we do that, we will never get past of this initial, exciting, but superficial stage of a relationship, we will never get to the real roots of love. Falling in love gives you the thrill, but staying in love it’s what gives you a life.
2. Patience Is Better Than Resourcefulness
By resourcefulness I understand here the capacity of one part of the relationship to fulfill some of the needs of the other part. For instance, somebody may fulfill your sexual needs and you may fulfill his or her financial needs. Or it may be something more subtle, like psychological needs for inner validation. On the long run, this is not going to work as expected. It may work for a while, but that only until someone’s resources will dry up. Then, the relationship will dry up too. Patience, or the capacity to endure together, is much more important than this. It may not be as spectacular or as gratifying as the first thing, but it will help a relationship tremendously in time of restraint.
3. Talking Doesn’t Always Mean Communicating
In any relationship, communication is paramount. As a matter of fact, communication is the relationship. If there are flaws in the way you communicate to each other, like delays, confusions, misinterpretations, then expect the relationship to follow the same pattern. Many people consider communication is created by talking. I cannot find something more wrong than this statement. In my experience, communication – especially when there are significant age or life experience differences – is in fact destroyed by talking. Words simply cannot sustain the amount of understanding that is needed. In this case, communication happens at other levels: it’s in the things you do for the other, rather than in the words you spoke to the other.
4. The Other Is Us
This works in two ways, usually combined. The first way is that we attract a specific type of person, somebody who will help us understand our own flaws. We keep attracting the same person over and over, until something inside us is healed. That’s why many relationships feel like shit, that’s why we keep attracting the same type of people, until the lesson is learned. And the second way is that we tend to project expectations and fantasies on the other person, making him or her very different from what he or she really is. Hence, the disappointment. Of course, once we learned a lot of lessons and once we stop projecting our fantasies on the other person, we usually attract somebody with whom we can relate on an honest and open level.
5. If It’s Good For You, It Will Happen
Without even knowing, we are bringing into our current relationships our entire past. Our expectations about what a relationship should be, our expectations about our ideal partner, an entire web of “do”s and “don’t”s that a relationship should conform to. But we’re evolving human beings. We’re not stuck at the same level and the needs that we need to fulfill in a relationship are also changing. So, every once in a while, we enter into a relationship that promises a lot to our internal representation, it almost feels like “fated”. And, soon after the first stages, we realize that it simply isn’t as fulfilling as we thought it will be. At this moment, a very strange conflict arises: on one side, we want to “bend” reality to match our internal representations, and on the other side, we realize it’s time to step out and find something else. This feeling of being “trapped” between our expectations and the harsh truths of the reality is one of the worst feelings you can experience in a relationship. So, I learned that, if it’s really good for you, it will happen, no matter what. Clinging to it, just because you have to fill in some internal blueprints (which may be very well outdated) will not work. Never.
6. If You Want It, Go For It
That goes somehow hand in had with the one above, but on the opposite way. It means that, if you really feel a relationship will be fulfilling for you, don’t be discouraged at the first signs of difficulty. Go for it, no matter how ridiculous you will look, no matter how hard it will be, no matter how tiny chances you may stand. Just go for it, dry up all the possibilities. If you succeed, you will know that this was good for you, as the one above says. If you can’t make a fulfilling relationship out of that specific encounter, then at least you will know you literally tried everything. And, in a very subtle, but powerful way, this will give you a very positive sense of relief. You know that you can start clean, fresh, purged of all the potential emotional garbage you’d otherwise carry with you, if it wouldn’t be for this “all or nothing” approach.
7. “Let’s Stay Friends” It’s Urban Folklore
Many romantic relationships that are ending are trying to somehow park on the level of “friendship”. Ok, romance wasn’t possible, but let’s stay friends. In my experience, this is just another social blueprint that we learn relatively early in our lives and then try to apply it indiscriminately. In other words, it’s a pile of bullshit. Just because we dated for a while, it doesn’t mean we can actually function as friends. More often than not, it means the opposite. Sometimes, people actually strive more to remain friends than they tried to build a romantic relationship, and the only reason for that it’s because they want to “save face”. I personally think it’s better to ignore each other respectfully, than to keep an appearance of politeness masking our lack of trust or our lack of interest in each other. Of course, in some cases, friendship is possible after a romantic relationship. My point is that it shouldn’t be forced.
12 thoughts on “7 Things I Learned About Relationships – The Hard Way”
In order to maintain a relationship both has to make some adjustments and has to try to understand each other. You should know that every human being is different and when two persons come together both of them will have to understand the strong and weak points of each other.
Though it is a nice post, I have to disagree with the first point 🙂
I think it is very possible to keep the attraction going, the only problem is people don’t know how to. Most of the problems people experience in relationships are unnecessary and due to the habituation factor. Karezza has been the key practice that has taught me this.
About your last point, it is true you should never force to be friends, just see what happens naturally. Fortunately in my experience, I have naturally stayed friends with all of my exes.
wonderful information..love this post..
Great post, I’ve definitely learned these things the hard way as well. Nobody is an expert in relationships because we are always learning from them.
Thanks for this post Dragos, I just found your blog. I like what you wrote about the other is us. Being married for 8 years, I have realized that we tend to assume that the other person also has our weaknesses and strength. At the beginning of our relationship I would find that I did not tap into the strengths of my wife because I simply assumed she was as weak as me in those areas. Now I am quick to ask my wife for help with directions, decorations and all form of aesthetics because she is way better than I am.
That was a nice comment, thanks 🙂
I guess relationships are something that can never be truly figured out, but we are always learning more about them!
Either way, good post and thanks for sharing.
I think they can be figured out, at some point, but agree with the fact that we will always have something to learn from them.
The hard way, is the best type of teacher: you are first given the test, then it shows you the lesson. Like throwing arrows, closer and closer to the center each time you strike. There may be a lucky hand form the first shot for some of us, or not quite so for the rest. Either way, a self-conscious individual able to balance their side of a relationship should have enough common sense, and wisdom as well, guts and stamina for the run. So, run, Forest 🙂
I did my part of the run. I kinda feel more like dancing lately, but I know what you mean 🙂
timely for me because i just broke up mentally/emotionally. got the ‘lets enjoy our friendship’ stick and not sure i’ll indulge… it feels like having his cake and eating it too. we never actually dated.. didn’t even get that far! but whatever flirtatious ‘friendship’ we did have was getting awkward with lame encounters. he should know that the consequence costs our ‘friendship’. if he was never into me, it shouldn’t be hard. if he likes me but was too chicken to do anything, his loss. but no, we can’t go back to ‘friends’. 😛
if it’s good for you, it will happen. If not, think at it as it’s a “blessing in disguise”.