A relationship will only work if you do.
I’ve read several articles on the do’s & don’ts, pros and cons, rights and wrongs of making romantic partnerships work. Many tire me and typically end with an eye roll or a shoulder shrug. No one wants to admit the truth. There is no golden nugget of advice because we’re all merely attempting to do the best we can. So instead of trying to fool you into believing your situation is the only one that’s not ideal, how about I air some dirty laundry of my own (and several close friends) on the REALities of relationships. Here are 6 very candid statements that many relationship writers just won’t write.
- You won’t be accepted the way you are – No one accepts you 100% as you are and that’s a sad but important truth. Only a few days after arriving home as a perfect bundle of joy, novelty wore off and you became normal – regular even. Years of emotions, mistakes and idiosyncrasies later, you found yourself staring in the mirror wondering if you enjoy your own company. You have a growing list of desired changes from your waistline and hair to your lack of follow through and untimeliness. Those few days on Earth to be perfect and pure have long since passed and you now wonder if your parents silently wished for a do-over. Everyone in your life, especially your significant other, has a mental list of annoying, frustrating things about you they’d like to change or completely erase. Any article or advice promising full acceptance without regular compromise and adjustments is sending you down a winding, disappointing road. While similarities can highlight an area of opportunity in your partner causing friction and discontent, differences may expose meaningful chasms between world views and personalities. Oh, and for those believing their partner accepts them 100%, it’s untrue. They aren’t doing you any favors as false acceptance prevents self-improvement.
- The other person may not appreciate your effort – Have you ever worked hours, even days on something only to receive a simple ‘thanks’ or possibly no acknowledgement at all for your effort? As if the other person chose the absolute basic, most I-really-dont-think-this-was-rocket-science-but-I-guess-you-need-some-sort-of-validation response of all? If yes, you know how it feels to be unappreciated or under appreciated. In my past and current relationship, I’ve gone above and beyond for boyfriends. Along with over-the-top thoughtful gestures, I’ve done those little things–sweet, considerate, loving things–to demonstrate respect and regard for their needs and wants. The only problem is they don’t always recognize my acts as thoughtful, meaningful gestures. Years ago this caused me to throw up my hands and vow to never again invest so much. However, after thinking about it more and discussing it with an ex, I realized one can’t appreciate what he believes is expected. Offering a show of gratitude for my actions seems strange to them because they expect those actions from me. Why should I thank you for doing what you’re supposed to do? And that’s how it often goes. We expect so much from the people we date–honestly, we expect a lot from most people in our lives–so we overlook their sacrifice and effort. It’s not her job to cook and clean for you. She isn’t required to fix your coffee with the preferred ratio of sugar to milk in an effort to jumpstart your day with a smile. He shouldn’t be expected to fill your gas tank every time it gets low or run you a bubble bath when you have a tough day at work. The REALity of relationships is we often lack appreciation for our partners because we take for granted all the little (and big) things they do.
- Many adults lack self-awareness and don’t practice introspection – Most of us aren’t sitting around wondering the why’s and what’s of the world. We aren’t engaged in weekly existentialist debates on the basics of Facticity and Freedom. Instead, we rely on well-meaning attitudes and actions to carry us throughout our lives and relationships. Rarely do we peel back the layers of issues draped across our shoulders ranging from broken promises and absentee parents to selfish friendships and burdensome childhoods. Without thought, we carry the weight of our pasts, yet rarely evaluate the cost of the load. Being introspective allows us to recognize triggers, sensitivities and vulnerabilities. How can we have positive, productive, mature relationships if we don’t know ourselves? If we aren’t aware of the ways in which our personality offends or hurts, we can’t correct, fix, or mitigate. Complexity is inherent with relationships, you’re getting to know someone and possibly build a life together. But what happens when the person you’re getting to know doesn’t know themselves? How complicated is that? I’ve known plenty of people lost to revised internal narratives they’ve created to mask reality. They believe they are responsible and accountable. They believe they are honest and faithful. They think they are understanding and patient. They tell themselves they are compassionate and considerate. Their actions prove them wrong. Being committed to your relationship means having the courage to understand root-causes of frustrations, being vulnerable enough to delve below the superficial and talk through areas of tension, and being introspective enough to identify and own your issues.
READ NOW: PART TWO