Who should you be in a relationship with? Or should you be in one at all? And if you are in one, how can you tell if they’re the ‘right’ person? This is the age-old question: when is someone good enough and when are we expecting too much?
Okay, let’s start off with the fact that coupling is an entirely fabricated mental construct. We each might have a favourite person to spend time with, confide in, and even have sex with. But sometimes, in real life, those aren’t even the same people.
Many times, the real reason we’re not spending more time with, or confiding in, or having sex with other people isn’t because those things wouldn’t at times feel natural or rewarding or healthy. It’s because of mental borders or restrictions or limits we place on ourselves using language.
Being in love with someone doesn’t stop a guy from getting an erection when he sees a woman he finds extremely attractive, or that a woman might become aroused at the sight of a handsome muscular man. That’s exactly the biology that magazine covers are trying to harness. That’s a part of us. And it’s not just sexual. If we couldn’t fall in love with more than one person then all widows, widowers and divorced people would be doomed.
We need to honest with ourselves. If we want to couple off that’s fine, and it’s a popular choice. But we can’t discuss this issue if we’re just assuming that coupling is natural when there is strong biological evidence that it isn’t always the impulse. In many cases it’s just how society got set up and the effects (coupling) were almost accidental.
All that said, we all know it’s not uncommon to find people who we feel uniquely attracted to. And that attraction can be so thorough that it exists at the expense of all other attractions, and in those cases those make good pairings.
Also, since our societies train people to think of themselves as half of a couple, it makes sense that this will be our first inclination. And if we’re not going to have the support of an actual tribe, then at least pairs or families make life feel it a little closer to the real world, where we’re constantly reminded that none of us can actually survive alone.
If we’re going to date or get married, we can’t expect perfection. But we can start off on the right foot with a good understanding of what traits and qualities are most likely to lead to happiness in the relationship. Fortunately —and probably very surprisingly— this isn’t complicated.
Who should you be with? Someone who also wants to be with you. Told you. Easy.
Think about it. Do we want someone that is attracted to our appearance? No, because that will inevitably change drastically. Do we want someone who is attracted to our wealth or status? No, because those too are very likely to fluctuate and those things aren’t even ‘us.’
Do we want someone that’s attracted to our personality? Now we’re starting to get into healthy territory. Our personality is essentially who we are. So yes; we want someone who enjoys being near to us. We want someone that helps us feel good and we help them feel good. The rest is all superficial.
We can all learn a lot just by paying attention to the couples around us. 50% of them get divorced. And even in the 50% that’s remaining, there are many relationships that are less than respectful. This means a very large percentage of couples simply aren’t very nice to each other.
They’ll complain and chide and ridicule and insult. An enormous percentage of their exchanges will exist to point out mistakes or offer correction. How the person drives, how they spend money, how they look, how they act, who their friends are, what kind of shape they’re in, etc. etc. etc., all hidden deep within their ‘normal’ exchanges.
Think about that again: a very large percentage of couples simply aren’t very nice to each other. They are either actively unkind or passively unsupportive to their spouse and their objectives. So obviously, odds are we’re in this group. So who makes up the other group?
A much smaller percentage of couples admire each other. They don’t solicit their partner’s advice out of obligation or respect. They do it because they genuinely want their input to be a part of their deliberations. They think so highly of their partner it’s like going to get advice from the greatest guru they’ve ever heard of.
Those couples are fans of each other. When their partner is out of earshot they’re more likely to be complimenting them than they are to be offering judgments about them. Simply put, they act as though they feel very nearly perpetually in awe of their good-fortune in having such an excellent source of love, support and information constantly available to them.
All day long I see couples losing track. They take each other for granted. They forget why they got married, or they didn’t get married for good enough reasons in the first place. Of course we should also have enjoyable separate lives with friends etc. but our spouse or romantic partner should essentially be the number one confidante we have.
They would ideally be the source of information we trust most. They are ideally our hero and it’s best if we’re theirs too. It really should be a mutual admiration club where we both just want to constantly show our gratitude to the other person for gracing our life with their presence. We want to honour them.
This has several advantages. People who feel safe and secure perform at their best, and so it’s likely that the loving couples really are getting the best advice. There’s also less energy applied to unnecessary friction and arguing, and both parties experience the health and energy benefits of less stress. Not to mention they’re acting as far better guides to their children. While other kids are learning to argue, judge and complain, those kids are learning kindness, gratitude and love.
I’ve watched people waste their entire lives in a relationship they don’t like, all because they don’t want to be seen as having “failed” when they end the it. They over-calculate the damage and under-calculate the upsides of a more positive change.
We’re better to be single than be disrespected or live unadmired. Every human being is worthy of love and admiration. It is never a matter of whether or not we’re worth it —we’re born worth it. It’s a matter of whether or not we’re with someone who can see us clearly enough to recognize how amazing we each are in our own unique ways.
We don’t have to sort out difficulties of find anyone. We just have to focus on realizing ourselves, and then pay attention to who naturally feels compelled to be near that realization. We are best to be closest to the people who love the way we naturally are. Then even at our worst, we can’t go wrong.
Attached are some links relevant to the discussion:
How Long Should a Relationship Last?
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.