Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Healthy Relationships

We hear it all the time, and we want it for ourselves, this wonderful allusive life of a happily ever after. Otherwise known as a healthy relationship.  Before we get to the healthy part let's  look at relationships in general. There are three types of relationships, Compulsive, Healthy and Apathetic.

Compulsive
Intensity without substance. Sometimes called the "big bang theory" Mr. and Mrs. Perfect meet and bang go the emotions, the brain shuts off, we get involved in a relationship that probably won’t work. We love all the excitement and how wonderful the relationship makes us feel.  It isn't the relationship that is good, it is the excitement that feels good. The relationship takes back seat and focus is placed on the feeling.  The excitement keeps us going while the world around us is falling apart.  The very thought of the other person can make our head spin and our heart pound. These reactions are all based on the feeling of the moment, and not the substance to sustain a relationship. I'm not saying we shouldn't be excited, but it shouldn't be the most important part of the relationship.

When the relationship takes a nose dive and it will, we either literally fight our way through or walk away while telling ourselves and anyone who will listen, how we knew it wasn't going to work and that we didn't love them anyway. We are in a daze left wondering what the hell happened, why did this person change so much?  The fact is they didn't change, nor did we, each of us went back to being who we really are to start with.  We stopped trying to impress, thinking we got what we wanted and there is no more need in "being on our best behavior". After all, they got into this relationship with me. Too many times when we first meet someone we "put our best foot forward", why you ask, that's easy, trying to impress them, trying to get them to like us. "If I can get them to just like me then the change in me is worth it." The difficulty is, I can only be someone I'm not for a limited amount of time.  We not only make ourselves miserable but those around us miserable as well. So we cut our losses and try the next relationship without doing anything to look within ourselves to see why our relationships keep falling apart.

Apathetic
Both partners seek to avoid pain. The couple tries to get along with minimal involvement, not wanting to rock the boat.  Not wanting to have to participate in understanding the other, or supporting the other.  We are able to trick ourselves into believing we have a relationship so we must be "normal, like other couples".  We live an existence, not a life. We seek only to remain as conflict-free as possible, with no desire to grow closer or stronger together.

It is amazing to me how people in this category ever get together at all. Think of the effort one must put forth to live in the same space and yet not disturb their lives or the life of the other person. The daily existence sounds exhausting. Lives that are very regimented and mundane which doesn't lead to a happy ever after either. 

Healthy
Find middle ground
Contains mutual respect
Normal ups and downs
Moments of closeness and separateness
Built on honesty and trust that other will do what is best for the couple
Happiness is the median

Both partners are invested in getting to know the other person.  Willing to explore the possibilities and negotiate their needs and wants so the relationship is equitable. There is a willingness to understand to allow give and take so there is as little disparity as possible.  Each person respects the other's needs and considers them when making choices. While happiness is the mutual state of affairs, we will have ups and downs and will find healthy ways to work through them. We maintain the understanding, your mood doesn't have to dictate my mood and vise-versa. I can maintain empathy with other without having to be in the same emotional state. Healthy relationships understand and practice this.

Healthy relationships don't keep score nor do they have room for bringing up the past to hurt the other while in dispute of a topic.  There is honest communication and openness which contains space for both views.  Intimacy is more than sex. Intimacy considers the other.  We may have intimacy with sex but we also may have sex without intimacy, it's called a one night stand or friends with benefits. The intimacy in healthy relationships is an understanding we have a safe place to fall, a place where our fears, worries, past experiences may be shared without out fear of retaliation due to the knowledge of the other's deepest thoughts, deeds, fears, and past.

As we move forward, let us consider what it is we want for ourselves and those we bring into our lives. If we want good healthy relationships we have to let go of the way we use to be in relationships. As with any recovery program, we first must identify the problem, correct the way we do things and work to not go back to old habits, remembering we can't get good at someone we don't practice.

Healthy relationships contain communication, caring, and commitment. Too often we confuse caring with curiosity. We think we care when what we really want, is to know the other person better. Communication is key, how can I possibly get to know anyone without communicating. If we aren't talking we aren't communicating. If we aren't communicating we aren't learning, if we aren't learning, we aren't growing. When we talk to people long enough, they will tell us a lot about themselves, we need to listen with an open mind, and not be focused on the "awesome sex, great looks, charm, whatever it is that attracted us to them to start with. 

Caring comes once we have spent time and gotten to know this person and they know us, we can then move on to commitment or we may choose to simply move on after finding the glue to hold us together doesn't exist. Commitment comes in pieces, yes I will date you, yes I will have sex with you, yes I will move in with you, yes I will buy a house with you, yes I will marry you. We don't lose who we are in this process, in fact, we should grow stronger. We protect ourselves while allowing other to get close to us.

Good luck and wishing all a healthy future.