Recently I’ve had cause to think about [romantic] relationships and my perspective on them, and I’ve been asked to share them. (Just to be clear, this is my perspective.)
Society mainly seems to define a successful relationship by it’s longevity, doesn’t it? No thought of whether it’s happy, or functional, or healthy. Just long.
Find the person you “want to spend the rest of your life with”. Seems to be an end goal, with little thought about the bit in between the now and the then. What about the notion that we don’t have to be with one person for our entire life? Is that an unusual concept?
I think children are often a reason for this; creating a stable, long relationship that’s healthy. But how many relationships that stay together ‘for the kids’ actually end up incredibly unhealthy, unhappy and toxic for all involved? These children are seeing this as their example of what relationships should look like, whether you like it or not.
So if you take children out of the equation, is there the same need for one relationship for life? I think not. Or not necessarily.
To be clear, I’m not against relationships for life, I just don’t think they have to be, and I don’t believe in putting pressure on a new relationship to meet that criteria. How do you know what will happen in the future? How do you know what you want or who you’ll be in 20 years time?
Opening our hearts up multiple times isn’t a failure, it’s a blessing. If I’d have only thought about whether a relationship would have been forever then I wouldn’t have had some incredible times with The Marine, or the fun-filled days with A, or the epic adventures with the guy from New Zealand.
Like the fact I don’t regret the years I spent with my ex-husband; there were a lot of good times, and a lot of learning. I don’t see it as a failure that we got divorced or didn’t last forever. We loved each other for most of that time, and not being together now doesn’t diminish that. Having years in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to carry it on (read up on the sunken costs fallacy).
I don’t think there is only one kind of love and I don’t really subscribe to the idea of true love. Well maybe I do, but only in the sense that it’s the kind of love you should have for yourself.
I subscribe to the idea that love is everywhere, and not just romantic. You can love your family, your friends and even strangers. There’s a difference between love and attachment. In Buddhism, it’s described as:
‘There is a stickiness, neediness, dependency, and self-centeredness associated with attachment. It’s “I need you to make ME happy”, as opposed to “I want to make YOU happy”, which is actual love. Attachment weakens us, and we give away the key to our happiness. Love strengthens us, and we stay in charge of our happiness.‘
For me, that means being happy on my own so if I have a romantic relationship, it’s out of choice (not need) and not because I’m looking for someone to be with for the rest of my life because I don’t want to be on my own.
I’d rather have 2 amazing weeks, months or years in a relationship than 20 OK/slightly miserable ones. I’d rather enjoy someone’s company right now, every time I’m with them than think about what they – and us – are going to be like in 20 years time. I’m not looking to live with anyone, or get married again. I’m not saying I wouldn’t, but I’m not thinking about it and I certainly don’t need to.
So if I start seeing someone, it’s because I like them, they’re kind, they make me laugh and I enjoy their company. It might last 2 months, it might last 20 years. Who knows?
Simple as that.