Guide to Healthy Loving: View Relationships as the Seasoning, Not the Meal
Contributed by: 'E' of @Btyobserved
This guide to 'Healthy Loving' is based on three things that are guiding the way I manage my relationships as I reach my mid-twenties. Most of this article takes the form of questions that the reader should ask themselves.
Most of us have our preconceived ideas of how love and relationships should work often modelled by flawed relationships between our parents or in the media. This post is structured to aid the reader to be sceptical about their ideas of how relationships should work and their own actions in a relationship.
1. Maintain your own separate identity
Have your own hobbies and career goals, have a good network of friends who cater to all your different needs as a person without putting all the burden on one person. Looking for perfect fulfilment in any one person is a sure fire route to unhappiness. No one will fully ever understand you. It will never happen; no one will ever perfectly satisfy you as a friend or lover. If they are generous with their time and affectionate they may not stimulate your mind. So you should look for fulfilment in a variety of things and most importantly in your own company. Also viewing your partner or friend as a flawed being incapable of always doing right by you because of their very nature makes it easier to love and forgive them. You too are flawed and should you wish to receive forgiveness when you also commit an error, you must extend it.
2. Don't be judgemental
Really, you don’t know what is going on in someone else’s head. You don’t actually know the meaning of all their facial expressions. People put on a ‘front’ on a very regular basis. On the outside, they might seem frosty, when in fact, something might be troubling them. If you want to know what they’re thinking, ask. Ask with an open mind and choose the most generous interpretation of what they’re saying then ask some more till you’re more clear on what is happening rather than filing the communication gaps with your own overactive imagination.
3. Examine yourself, deeply and frequently
What do you want from a relationship?
Take a situation where a guy breaks up with a girl? Why? He didn’t feel like she gave him enough validation. She only expressed her support of him, her belief in him and how proud she was of him around twice a week when really he needed affirmations every day. In such a situation, the question that needs to be asked is: are you looking for a quality in other people that really you should have yourself? What is it that you look for in people? Is it something legitimate like civility and positivity? Or is it something that really ought to come from yourself, for example, validation or purpose.
What often goes wrong in your relationships?
Have you calmly and clearly communicated your dissatisfaction? Is there any way you could be contributing to this? Perhaps your perception of the problem is skewered. A week without texts is a problem if you see it as a sign of neglect and a personal slight, rather than a symptom of the other person having a busy week.
Is your dissatisfaction with them or your own life, have you made them a scapegoat? If there has been no change in the person in response to your dissatisfactions, why are you still in the relationship? This is not a rhetorical question. Are you with them because you don’t like your own company or is it a hope that this behaviour that you do not contribute to will change.
How disruptive are these behaviours? How long have they been exhibited? Does this person’s past behaviour line up with your expectations that they will change? If it is a friend, you can put a healthy distance between yourself and them as your mental health is more important. If it is a lover, you may have to end the relationship.
I am not a relationship counsellor, I have no degree in psychotherapy, I'm just an introspective person showing you how I critically assess my relationships.