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“All relationships are always going to require a lot of work, but the best relationships are always the ones that make things work.” ~ Anonymous
Relationships are anything but simple.
They are complex, demanding, and yet can be rewarding—only if we are willing to make the effort. And every relationship requires different kinds of effort and with different intensities.
Is there a straightforward answer to what makes a relationship work or even last? No.
Every relationship comes with its uniqueness simply because it is created, maintained, and lived by two (or more) unique individuals.
And each relationship then requires that those individuals learn to enjoy the similarities and make room for the differences.
Every relationship is essentially a process of unfolding. As time passes, you begin to uncover the hidden and create new layers of your self, and become a part of this unfolding of the other person as well. It is this constant delayering, uncovering, and unfolding that constitutes the journey of two individuals.
And it is this process, which makes relationship dynamics complex, simple, demanding, and yet rewarding.
Overtime, I have realized that we all make one fundamental mistake (along with so many others! And it’s only human to do so, err!) of focusing on “doing things for our partners or for the relationship,” when instead we could benefit from focusing on “being” the kind of person who is open and receptive to what our partner has to offer to us and “being” the kind of person who is capable of giving and sharing the love, care, and understanding that our partner also needs.
Everything flows from our state of being. At the end of the day, it’s not about what we do or don’t do; it’s about who we are and how we are doing things.
Often, relationships tend to lose their sheen or lose their spark simply because the people in it are not in those states of being that are supporting the relationship.
And the space between them has increased so much that the distance becomes too much for them to cover.
While there are a lot of factors that affect the health of a relationship, here are some key reasons that convert space into distance in a relationship:
1. Lack of moments of connection
Every relationship has its ups and downs. There are fights, arguments, crazy conflicts, and life also finds its way into all this! Amidst all this, we do end up feeling disconnected every now and then. But what matters is, do we have something to still hold us together?
Research says that for every one moment of disconnection, we should create at least three to five moments of connection with our partner. The opposite tends to happen…doesn’t it?
Most relationships fizzle out because people don’t feel connected, emotionally and physically—it just doesn’t feel the same. But feelings also need time and effort for sustenance. If you’re not smiling, laughing, being cheeky, romantic, playful, or sharing a cozy silence together, how would you connect?
2. Believing that it’s your partner’s job to make you happy
No. It is nobody’s job to make anyone happy. Our happiness is only dependent on us, and if we choose to believe otherwise, we will only be blaming, criticizing, and controlling our partners, and creating outcomes that will only kill the essence of a relationship. Our job in a relationship is to “be” and our partners can only contribute to our sense of happiness. If they are not, then it’s up to us to think about our happiness.
3. Letting issues fester
Why do we clean our physical space regularly? So that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for infection and disease. The same way, relationships need cleaning too! Majority of couples live with unresolved issues, grudges, and past hurts in a relationship. They either don’t talk or when they do, they don’t listen to each other. The focus is on brushing things under the carpet. Out of sight, out of mind—right? No. It doesn’t work—especially not for deep hurts and conflicts.
4. Unhealthy patterns of communication
Let’s face it, most of us don’t know how to communicate without blaming, criticizing, or giving the silent treatment. Of course they don’t work! Which is why partners can continue to argue and fight over one issue for 20 years! The only way we think we can get ourselves heard is by yelling, attacking the other person, or seeing ourselves as helpless. We struggle to hold space, listen, empathize, validate, and take accountability. And these are the very things that create connection.
5. Not growing together
The fact of the matter is that we are constantly evolving. We need our relationships to fulfill our needs and our needs also evolve. If our partner and the relationship begin to lag behind or perhaps stay in the same space—connection will slowly wither away. And this growth also takes effort.
6. Expecting your partner to understand you exactly the way you want
It’s unrealistic and not possible. When we don’t understand ourselves exactly, how can we expect someone else to? What matters is, do we feel understood? Is our partner in their own way at least making us feel understood? Are we open and receptive to their way? Can we convey the same to them? Can we make room for these differences?
Being in a relationship is like sitting on a swing—it will go up and down, round and round, in all possible directions. The question to consider is: are we enjoying ourselves? Does it feel fulfilling and worth it at the end of each day?
The day we have to sit and analyze the cost and benefit of being in a relationship, we are already in deeply troubled waters!
“At the end of the day you can focus on what’s tearing you apart or keeping you together.” ~ Anonymous