We’re told and taught so many things about relationships—from the songs we listen to, books we read, observing our friends’ relationships, our parents, and even all those silly romantic comedies. We hear things like, relationships take compromise, relationships take work, relationships depend on communication, trust, honesty, etc. And then we fill our heads with all kind of ideals of what we think love looks like, or should look like, but it never happens that way. Well, for some people it might, but love isn’t a one size fits all, is it now?
Yesterday, someone told me that relationships should be easy, because his two best friends apparently have had generally easy, non-dramatic long-term relationships, so if they can find that kind of true love, then so should all love be. And then I thought, gosh, if love was easy for everyone, what the hell is wrong with me then? In fact, what the hell is wrong with everyone that's ever written a heartbreaking song.
I think though, to some extent, he had a point. At least, I always find that when it comes to someone I love it’s easy to make tough decisions. I mean, for example, if a stranger comes up to me, and tries to start a row—not that that ever happens to me—I can just walk away, and that’s that. There’s not a second thought to it, because I don’t feel invested in this stranger, to sit down, talk it out, and work it out. I simply do not care. Now, if someone I love and I get in a row, it’s easy to want to, and to make the effort to sit down, talk it out, and work it out. I just don’t think twice about it, because if I love someone, I don’t want to leave matters unresolved. I actually care to make the effort to resolve whatever needs to be resolved. The hard part is how to work things out, because everyone’s different, and every couple is different. Sometimes it's a simple matter of knowing when to just give the other person a little space, and other times it's knowing when and how to talk and work things out. As children, my father would make my brother and I work things out by telling each other sorry, I love you, and then hugging it out. If only it were that easy as adults. Although, sometimes I think it is that easy, because sometimes we nitpick at things that are just silly for us to nitpick over. In those situations, I say the best way to resolve things is still to just know your errors, say you're sorry, and hug it out. And always say "I love you," because your loved ones should always know you love them.
Still, relationships are hard in the sense that you have to know yourself, yet I don’t believe we can never 100% know ourselves, because there’s always room for learning and growing. And it’s often in relationships that you learn more about yourself, and hopefully grow, too. It’s like how we learn the most about ourselves in the face of adversity. Well, I think we also learn a lot about ourselves in our relationships, because just like in adverse situations, you're being challenged. In relationships you're being challenged to learn just what your values mean to you, to learn how to communicate, to learn to trust, to learn self-control, to learn what makes you vulnerable, to learn confidence, to learn your good and not so good qualities, and you learn things you never even thought you would. As you learn all these things, you learn to accept them, too. You learn to accept that some things you cannot change, while others you will struggle to change if it means helping you to become a better person and a better lover.
And then you get to know the other person’s qualities, and some of those qualities may throw you off a bit. The important thing is to be able to separate your ideals from your values. It’s the ideals that mess with our heads. Mind you, I’m not saying that ideals are bad, but I think sometimes we let them get in the way of our seeing and appreciating the bigger picture, or what truly matters. Ideals are a problem when they start to constrain us. Plus, you'd think that idealists would generally be optimists, maybe annoying optimists like myself; but, I've met idealists who are truly terrible pessimists. If things don't live up to their ideals, then something is wrong.
Ideals also tend to promote a singular formula for how something should be; however, if I’ve learned anything in life and love, it’s that there is no singular formula. Sometimes you have to get through a series of trial and errors before you figure out what actually works for you. And avoid comparing yourself to others—I know it’s hard, but try, because sometimes that just effs you up even more. If you think about it, it’s like school. There’s always going to be the kid who seems to have put in the least amount of effort, but manages to be in the top 10% of the class anyways. Then there are people like me—I worked my butt off in law school, and I was not even close to the top 10% of the class. But if I always compared myself to the kid who studying came easy to, I’d find myself often discouraged. It’s really not fair to compare yourself to others. Through trial and error I figured out what worked for me and eventually even made the Dean’s List. On top of that, I found that I shined in other ways--and I'm not just saying that to make myself feel better. So yeah…ideally, working my butt off would have led to good grades; but in the end, the real value, for me personally, lied in the overall experiences I gained throughout law school, especially the ones that had nothing to do with grades. I mean, how many people have you heard say that they loved law school? I loved law school. No joke. Often it was frustrating, tiring, and it made me cry--like a lot of boys do, ha--but I still loved it.
Here’s another example, though this may be a silly example. After spending much time in the south, I grew accustomed to having men open doors for me. So whenever I’d come back to California, I’d get peeved when men wouldn’t open doors for me. Don’t they know their manners? However, I’ve also learned that there is a difference between knowing your manners and actually being a true gentleman. Being able to open doors is not an indicator of a true gentleman. So how much does having a man open a door really mean to me? Not much if he's an asshole.
Relationships are easy to the extent that we choose to be with the ones we love, and once we realize what’s worth fighting over and what’s worth taking a chill pill over, the hard parts become minor to what we truly value. It’s getting to that place that may take some work, but when it’s worth it, it’s worth the work, and it will work out as it should. Still, sometimes, if not a lot of times, it really does just come down to reminding ourselves to take a freakin’ chill pill—stop being a drama queen. Whoosh. (Sound of a big relieving gust of wind, blowing your hair to the side, clearing the skies, letting the sun shine on you as you lift your face towards it and smile back).
BIG LOVE & HUGS