Seen on Twitter:
I want a relationship that works, or I don’t want one at all. The alternative is much too painful.
A tiny Tweet, yet it speaks volumes. I’m pretty sure most of us not only concur, we can relate. It’s a simple concept; after all, who doesn’t want a relationship that works? Unfortunately, problems creep into our relationships because oftentimes we hold different ideas regarding what “works.” A happy medium can be hard to achieve if one party in the relationship doesn’t understand that the best way to receive is to give. Having a relationship that “works” also doesn’t mean that we get to have our way at our partner’s expense. The goal of any compromise should be win-win, not win at all costs.
I’ve also found out the hard way that developing a relationship that works isn’t achieved simply because each person defined their boundaries and limitations, or established must-haves. It also isn’t achieved because we drew lines in the sand regarding those behaviors and situations we designated as deal breakers. For instance, what if one person decides (for whatever reason) to totally disregard everything you both spent time and energy to carefully create? It’s like using “time out” as a disciplinary tactic in child rearing: What happens if your kid decides he won’t go in time out?
I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to have a relationship that works, both persons have to be what they want in the relationship. Here’s a primer:
- Be honest. That means be truthful – not only in what you say, but in who you are. My personal philosophy for entering a relationship is “what you see is what you get.” No pretending, no sugarcoating – I am who I am and it is what it is. I do this to assure you that you’re not meeting Dr. Jekyll, only to have Mr. Hyde show up later.
- Be smart. In this instance, I’m not saying you have to be a Rhodes Scholar (though having a brain – and knowing how to use it – really helps. Just being honest). Being smart also means that even though you recognize and accept you imperfections, you’re smart enough to not use them as excuses for dumb behavior.
- Be a team player. Even though that expression is tired and worn, the concept isn’t. Team players have enough sense to know what to do to get along with someone, namely, me. You + Me = Team Us. That means we both do what it takes to sink the basket, score the touchdown, make the goal, make the birdie or an eagle, roll a strike, and land a 20 pound bass. A striped one.
- Be a lover. Wait, I’m not talking about that kind of lover . . . (well, on second thought, I am; it’s just that I’m not talking about that right now. This page is rated PG-13, and I have to keep it on the level that my Mother can read it. Stop trying to confuse me. Ahem. Cough).
- Be a lover. Be willing to love me the way I want to be loved. Please speak my love language, because I promise I’ll speak yours. There’s no need to complain about our differences; instead, let’s make it a point to celebrate them. You being from Mars and me hailing from Venus is a good thing.
- Be fair. Don’t take my kindness for weakness, or try to use it to your advantage. I don’t know how to give less than 100%, so when I’m in, I’m in. Don’t allow me to keep giving 100% when you know you intend to only give 30%, or when you know my 100% is no longer what you want. Insert —–>Just man up and tell me<—— here.
- Be a promise keeper. I cannot stress this one enough. If this seems like a no brainer, then let me introduce you to the scores of people who have found themselves on the receiving end of broken promises (sadly, ASwirlGirl would be included in that score). One of the best ways you can ensure you keep your promises is to be very judicious in making them. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed, strong armed, cajoled, or otherwise persuaded into making promises, and in like manner, don’t use these tactics to extract them. If you happen to learn that you will have to break a promise you made, then be big enough to say so. Articulate. Communicate. Talk, for goodness sakes. In other words, Just man up and tell me. Trust me, any disappointment you think I will feel will certainly be offset by your honesty.
I’ve taken a lighthearted approach to this relationship business, but I dare not overlook the seriousness of the portion of the statement that said “the alternative is much too painful.” Yes. Being lied to is painful. Trying to deal with someone who refuses to push himself creatively or intellectually is painful. Sustaining a relationship with someone who believes there is an “I” in TEAM is painful. Enduring willful, deliberate acts of unfairness is painful. Recovering from the hurt stemming from broken promises with no reason why IS. PAINFUL.
I believe life is meant to be shared with family and friends. Being in a relationship with a special someone as you make life’s journey is even better. Most of us want to be with someone who agrees on, lives up to, and shares in the physical, spiritual, and emotional investment required for the journey. Someone who knows and understands that we each need to be that person to the best of our ability. Someone who doesn’t expect us to get it right every time yet appreciates the fact that we’re going to try. Someone who will give what they want to get. That’s what works for me.
Join in the fray: Tell me, what “works” for you?