“Relationships are hard work” aren’t they? This statement holds true especially for romantic relationships. Now I am neither a cynic nor am I trying to undermine relationships but this is a bitter fact that unfortunately many of us relate to. Here, we will talk about what makes relationships such hard work.
The Fleeting Nature of the Honeymoon Phase:
Most romantic relationships start out with a lot of promises, flowers, colours, chocolates and stars. Don’t they? Young love. It gives us that warm fuzzy feeling of anticipation of meeting our lover. We start imagining and dreaming a future and a picture-perfect life together with this wonderful person.
Unfortunately, this phase does not last and is soon followed by a period of insecurity, jealousy and doubt. But why? What goes wrong? Why does a seemingly perfect relationship become such a drag after a while?
For the majority of us, our relationships become a dead weight on our shoulders after the ‘honeymoon phase’ is over. Now there is a very subtle factor which determines whether our relationship will last or not. Most of us overlook this factor.
Here is the secret to why some relationships weigh us down and feel toxic while others seem so effortless, meaningful and rejuvenating. The secret is: “relationships that do not start on the basis of expectations and promises are the ones that endure.” Let me explain how.
Sit back and let that idea sink in for a moment. The seemingly harmless silent killers of relationships are: Expectations and Promises. Relationships built on the wobbly foundations of expectations and promises are bound to come crashing down before long. Added to that is the fact that we borrow our idea of a “perfect relationship” from TV and romantic novels fed to our psyche over a long period of time. In the pursuit of creating the ‘perfect relationship’, we actually destroy what could have been, or is, a beautiful natural relationship.
What an Effortless Relationship Looks Like:
Believe it or not but the relationships that last, start on a rather mellow note! No great sparks may fly but there is an instant, quiet and effortless connection from both sides. The other characteristics of a lasting and healthy relationship are:
- It often progresses slowly, taking its time to grow because none of the people involved are in a hurry.
- There is a quiet sense of security and belongingness about the relationship. You two fit together effortlessly like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
- Contrary to what the media and the movies made you believe, you don’t need to fight the world to be with your love. And you don’t have to constantly make efforts to protect your relationship from falling apart.
- You don’t feel the need to hurry up and claim the other person through marriage or other means to secure the relationship.
- You are surprised with yourself because this relationship “Does not feel like hard work”. It is actually nourishing, uplifting and healing.
- You don’t even feel the need to give a name to it. Names are for others to identify something. Both of you simply know about its essence, its beauty and its depth and that feels fulfilling unto itself.
- You have an unspoken, indescribable understanding between yourselves. You need not give a form to it. It is formless, yet it has the most beautiful form.
So, if you can relate to most (or all) of the above points, you my friend are one lucky person. Keep it up and just be mindful that you don’t allow the silent killers to creep into your relationship.
What a Toxic Relationship Looks Like (watch out!):
Akin to milk gone bad, toxic relationships stink! When we allow the two culprits, expectations and promises to gain ground in our relationships, it is doomed. So what does a toxic, unhealthy relationship look like? If a relationship exhibits most of the following identifiers we may say that it is definitely not a healthy one:
- Either or both of you do not feel enthusiastic or excited about the prospect of meeting your partner. In other words, you don’t get a good feeling about seeing each other.
- It feels draining and exhausting to meet your partner. You actually feel relieved when your plans of meeting up get cancelled.
- Sometimes, as a desperate measure to make things better and save the relationship you feel an urgency to get married. You constantly find yourself asking your partner for proofs of loyalty.
- You don’t miss your partner during long periods of separation.
- It feels to you that you can’t let your guard down and be vulnerable with your partner.
- Extreme insecurity about your partner communicating with the opposite sex. It may also be related to your own trust issues.
- You do not care if they are cheating on you. It does not evoke a lot of emotions. Or the opposite, it evokes a lot of ugly emotions (like anger, hatred and disgust.. not sadness).
- Without any apparent reason, your female housemaids keep running away and mysteriously disappearing whenever your male partner is around (trust me on this).
Relationships are hard work only because we have made them so. They were meant to uplift us and support us. They also serve as a mirror which shows us some parts of ourselves. If we look at the majority of other natural relationships we find that they are more natural and effortless than the romantic ones. Like that of a parent and child, as they are not based on expectations and promises. Not as much as the romantic ones anyway.
We can allow ourselves to have healthier relationships if we just take care and not build them on the foundations of expectations and promises. Go out there and build healthy, meaningful relationships. They have a tremendous capacity to elevate you as a person and make your journey of life all the more enjoyable. If you find that you are in a toxic relationship that’s draining the life out of you, be honest with yourself and move out slowly. Have that much courage and clarity to choose your relationships wisely and life will be a beautiful ride.