Romantic relationships are fucking hard…and beautiful…and complex…and unpredictable. Here’s 6 tips…and a couple might burst ya bubble:
1) You want forever huh? Because we’ve been socialized to believe that once you find “The One,” that should be IT right? #SorryNotSorry to rain on your parade but what if I told you the idea of “The One” is a crock of shit? Why is it that 50% of marriages end in divorce? One could say infidelity or financial issues, but what if I told you that having an expectation and intention that once you get with a person, ya’ll will be together forever is a tad unrealistic? Sure, it happens sometimes, but the error is in thinking that 2 people can’t/ won’t grow apart and want to make different choices. A better thought is…
Let’s be together for as long as we want and choose to be.
It takes the edge off a bit, and gives both of you the freedom to move on/forward. Release the pressure of feeling like, “WE HAVE TO BE TOGETHER!!!” It also means that if ya’ll choose to ride, live and die together, ya’ll are present and intentional enough to choose each other every day, through the highs and lows, instead of going on automatic pilot and ridin’ it out cuz that’s what society says you’re supposed to do. You have choices, no matter how good, bad, exciting, boring, blah, or fantastic things get. The right amount of interdependence and detachment goes a long way.
Turn the idea of “The One,” into “The One I Chose For Now and We’ll See What Happens.”
Being together for the sake of being together or just wanting to be with “someone” is a time waster and energy sucker. Some relationships have an expiration date and shelf life. In the words of Fantasia, “Go ahead and free yourself!”
2) The both of you need to have your own lives. Two people wrapped up in each other, and that’s it, will get boring real fast. The physical attraction will not be enough eventually. Having rich INDIVIDUAL lives will only make your lives together that much more interesting. Productivity is sexy! The both of you continuously doing new things, surprising each other with your personal strides and growing keeps you curious about each other. It keeps you wanting to engage with who your mate is and who they are becoming over time. One person following behind the other cuz they don’t have anything goin’ on gets annoying, and eventually, the more productive side of the couple will be attracted to a presence that matches it. #GetYoLife for yourself. It will only enhance the team.
3) The root of infidelity is not ALWAYS because the “cheater” doesn’t love you. Yeah, I said it! Monogamy is what is socially acceptable in our society but it’s not necessarily natural…for men or women. What IS natural, is for people to be mentally, emotionally, physically and yes, sexually attracted to multiple people, potentially at one point in time. Yeah, I said it! People have the ability to love more than one person at one time. People have the ability to compartmentalize their attraction and relationships so that this here on the left doesn’t cross into this here on the right. The choice lies in what you choose to do with that attraction based on the agreements or structure of your relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some relationship partners who are fucked up and do what they do because they don’t love you or anyone and don’t want to make the choice or have the ability to be monogamous whether they’re conscious of that or not. But because it’s the social norm, they link up with somebody as their “main” and do what they do on the side with no remorse or consideration of you and when they’re caught, they still don’t give a fuck. But I’m not really talkin’ bout them. Monogamy isn’t the default…it’s a CHOICE…one kind of relationship structure. There are other options.
4) Be your authentic selves with each other. Contrary to this popular new agey cliché, doing so is HARD AS FUCK. Why? We’re socialized to play games and mental gymnastics with each other to attract and hold one another. When you first meet and date, ya’ll are bein’ maybe 50% real, sending representatives because you wanna hook, line and sink her/him. A representative can represent you but it ain’t the fullness of YOU. We are socialized to shift, bend, and be flexible to fit the mold that our partner is looking for. You bring some of you to the table, and the rest is what you think this person wants so they’ll stick around. But the ball will drop eventually. All masks and bonnets come off at some point because there’s only but so long that you can keep this act up. I’m not saying keep it real to the point where you’re an inconsiderate asshole (but if you are, show that side early so people who aren’t into assholes can skidaddle), but bring the truth of who you are.
If you frame your initial dates as an introduction to learning someone new and making a new friend versus a potential boo, you’ll be a lot more relaxed, probably have more fun, and the YOU that you show may be the YOU that they like. You’ll also know if ya’ll are compatible or not faster. If you’re into legal marriage (cuz all folks ain’t and are perfectly fine with that, ya know), give it a couple years AND living together before you do the deed. Even though women in particular, are socialized to be on a marriage time table, you don’t REALLY know someone till you’ve had a plethora of experiences over time with them and you want to know as much as you can before you make a serious commitment that will require paperwork, money and stress to end. You know one way to know if ya’ll are at least comfortable with each other? When one of ya’ll can use the bathroom while you’re talking and the conversation continues where you’re in the bathroom with them or the door is open. Everybody ain’t into that…but it’s a benchmark.
5) Come to the relationship as whole people. That whole “you complete me” scenario from the Jerry Maguire movie, as romantic as it sounds, sets most of us up to fail. It will turn ya’ll into social work projects, and even in social work, that should not necessarily be our approach to working with people/ communities. Sure…ya’ll may have your shit that you need to work on, but don’t look to the other person as your solution. They ain’t here to fix you. You shouldn’t be lookin for somebody to fix. This ain’t charity work!
Sure…help each other out. Sure…farm the complimentary skills that you both have and see what ya’ll can build together. Sure…unalike attracts and alike repels sometimes. And sure…you can choose to be supportive of your partner if they’re going through a rough patch. “Charity” cases are tempting, especially to women. Maybe it’s some sort of maternal instinct where we meet this person and say, “They would be perfect if only they made this change. I’ll help! I’ll fix it!” I’ve been there and you need to #StahpIt. Most of the time, that dynamic will lead to ya’ll resenting each other cuz they didn’t change yet and they want you to stop trying to change them. Nobody changes unless they want to, when they want to.
6) Relationships go through phases because individuals change. The duration of one relationship may feel like 7 different relationships all in one. Ya’ll will be into each other like puppies playin with their favorite toy. Ya’ll will be hot and spicy. You’ll simmer down. Might get cold. You’ll be homies (if it’s going well). Sometimes it will feel like you’re siblings. You’ll have moments where ya’ll ain’t really fuckin with each other too tough cuz you’re on a different type time. There may be lies, secrets and betrayal. Those experiences may provide life altering truths that break ya’ll apart or take the bond to another level, peeling back a layer of you individually and as a unit. Ya’ll will feel like roommates (if you live together). You will annoy each other. You will gross each other out. You will be astounded and awed by each other’s greatness. You may get bored. Things may get exciting again. And you go in and out of those phases if you’ve been together long enough. The most important question to ask yourself during and after a relationship is, “What did I learn and how did I grow from this experience?” Pay attention to the lesson. Find your constant…the core of what makes ya’ll YA’LL to weather those changes (if you choose to). What relationships rarely are, are fairytales. They’re more like roller coasters, so buckle up and try to enjoy the ride.