So I’ve been doing this dating thing for quite some time and I must say, there are many lessons to learn! Men and women are different in more ways than what was covered in that junior high school class we all felt really awkward about attending. There are general dating rules and then gender-specific rules that may or may not apply to the ever-evolving unwritten rules. Several books, websites, and experts exist to shed light on how to date better, love deliberately, listen actively, and communicate effectively. Yet, too many good women and men continue to sit home alone on Friday nights without any clear signs of dear ole’ Cupid shooting arrows their way.
For many participating in the sport of dating, unhealthy connections have become all too common. Our relationships are plagued with power struggles, ineffective communication, selfishness, infidelity, emotional and financial insecurities, and much more. Yet, we say we want something different. We fully accept movies for the entertainment they provide but deep down a part of us craves that blinding, powerful love found between the opening and closing credits. Because in the end, that’s what most of us have come to believe is normal and healthy.
It was on a Wednesday night, not Friday, when I started thinking about the signs of being in a normal, healthy relationship. Since I’ve spent the majority of my adult life dating the wrong way, how much insight do I truly have in recognizing when it’s right? The easiest way would be to compare it to previous entanglements or do a pro/con assessment, right? However, each person is different as are the dynamics that exist when two people join together. Then something happened. First, I was dating someone and started to question our relationship because it felt too comfortable. Second, I spoke with three friends, days apart that were all involved in seemingly happy, healthy relationships. Finally, I came across a few scientific and social studies regarding this very topic.
The resounding message was clear and consistent, healthy relationships have a similar look and feel. They overflow with support, respect, trust, passion-and comfort. That’s not the lightbulb part. It’s what I didn’t hear said about these relationships that made me rethink my own dating connections. My previous relationships had drama, excitement and everything that’s nowhere near the definition of boring. However, as I stated before, I realized how little proof I had on the effectiveness of that excitement in maintaining a relationship or even considering it to be happy and healthy. So maybe these articles and my friends were on to something.
Below are 4 commonalities I discovered that may make a comfortable (aka “Boring”) kind of love the happiest and healthiest of all.
1. Passion extends beyond the bedroom. Okay, we all remember relationships where we couldn’t keep our hands off the other person and jumping into bed was always on the to-do list. The deep, emotional connection was inextricably linked to the daily physical interactions. Well this isn’t that. Of course a healthy relationship includes a reciprocal desire and attraction between partners but the physical (i.e., sexual) definitely takes a backseat to more meaningful aspects of compatibility. All three women mentioned having complex levels of intimacy and passion with their guys beyond a nightly belly bump. Plainly stated: when we prioritize the important stuff, our relationships are healthier and the passion is more satisfying and longer-lasting.
2. There’s a Foundation of Friendship. While each relationship has a different starting point, they all must prioritize friendship and the stable foundation it provides.
Getting to know a person takes time and if you’re not already dating someone with whom you have a history of familiarity, invest the time to build it.
True companionship allows for an organic exchange of information- family history, upbringing, likes, pet peeves, relationship non-negotiables, etc. In all transparency, only one of my exes held the title of friend prior to us dating. I typically rushed from ‘stranger to boyfriend’ in a matter of weeks without much thought. Reflecting back, I put in minimal effort which is why I got subpar results. It was my responsibility to respect my life, space, and time enough not to waste it by voluntarily sharing it with the wrong person. Many people cite ‘fear of ruining the friendship’ as reasons to why they don’t date friends. Here’s my question: Is the friendship you’ve spent years cultivating really that fragile?
3. No Drama for the sake of Drama. Healthy relationships appear boring because there isn’t a daily dose of drama greeting you with your morning latte. Think about it, when you have trust, respect, support and passion, arguments don’t turn into a bashing session and your partner isn’t appearing on a talk show to understand if he is indeed the child’s father. I’m not suggesting happy couples don’t argue, I’m sure they do. The difference is in how they argue and about what they argue. They seem to resolve problems more effectively because they take the time to hear and understand the needs of their partner. Drama-heavy couplings are filled with selfishness, infidelity, dishonesty and miscommunication. Consistently feeling disrespected and discarded by your mate isn’t a reason to argue, it’s a reason to leave.
4. It’s Intentional/Thoughtful. I read an article, “Three Reasons You Should Never Marry for Love,” which (likely) speaks to the last commonality of healthy relationships. Instead of relying solely on something as fickle as a feeling (Love), these relationships combine that emotion with more steadfast components like shared values, common goals, and mutual respect. My friends didn’t haphazardly wind up in their current situations. They were intentional and asked the right questions-to themselves and their guys. They knew what they wanted and whether or not the man vying for their attention would be a helpmate or a handicap. We must stop spending so much time on the heart that we ignore the head!
Of course I’d love to hear from you! What do you think and are you okay with a Boring kind of love? Post Comments below!
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