Relationships Are Only as Strong as the Individual Within
My girlfriend and I had an argument recently. Ever since we adopted our pet chicken, she’s been constantly spending more time with it to the point where I started to feel neglected.
It wasn’t a full-blown argument; we rarely get those now, but if anything, it was a honest realization of where our relationship was headed.
Many people treat relationships as a do-once-and-forget kind of deal. You put in the effort initially, spend as much time as is required on dates and lengthy conversations, but once the relationship is established, refuse to put in any additional effort. Date nights become ‘just another dinner,’ and spending time together begins to feel routine; and before you know it, you’d rather do the things you like, or do the things you don’t like but have to (work), because it’s assumed your partner will still be there at day’s end.
That’s what happened to us. Most of our time together in our relationship has been to travel — on some days, we’d explore the Batu Caves of Kuala Lumpur, on others, we’d take the small Bangka boats to the coast of Boracay, and occasionally, we’d visit the Wat Arun temple of Bangkok. Every day was an adventure and we ate exotically — in the alleyways of China, at the street stalls of Taiwan, inside the food centers of Singapore, and we traveled — riding our moped alongside the rivers of Vietnam, sitting in the populous MRTs of Hong Kong, and bus-hopping across the border of Cambodia.
So when you compare our experiences from before to now, back in the States living under my parent’s roof, in a culture that we once grew up in but no longer feels familiar, all the while struggling to stay true to our paths despite the many different expectations and responsibilities, it’s easy to see the present as lackluster and routine.
Instead of focusing on what we have, we’ve found ourselves focusing more on what we had; which is to say is a terrible way to live, if all we ever look forward to is the past.
So while our relationship remains strong, it feels shaky, because we know without a doubt as we’ve seen in similar situations with friends and family, that the path we’re headed towards — if we continue taking each other for granted, if continue to focus our efforts on something other than our relationship, we’ll drift further and further apart. We’ll still love each other, but it will no longer the kind of romantic I’m-in-love-with-you love, but rather the familial kind you share with friends and family.
And we don’t want that. We desperately don’t want that.
I used to say, relationships are only as strong as the individual within, but now I realize that relationships are only as strong as the efforts of the individuals within. To make a relationship work, you can’t just elevate yourself — you have to elevate each other. If your partner is struggling, has flaws, it’s not your responsibility to fix those flaws. But it is your responsibility to encourage and support them in fixing those flaws. Only by helping your partner succeed while elevating yourself will make the relationship stronger.
Relationships, like everything, require nurture. They’re only as meaningful as you make it them to be, and whether you think the relationship is over, or just beginning, you’re right.
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