Difficult relationships – End of the Day for May 25, 2014

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When I hear people talking about relationships, I often hear them describing how difficult they are. For me, though, while relationships can be challenging, scary, rough and tumble, I don’t think they are ever difficult. For me, a “difficult” relationship points to one that probably shouldn’t exist in the first place. Difficulty usually means that there is a great mismatch between the wants, needs and desires of both parties. When there are huge differences at this very low level it can be difficult, if not impossible to find common ground. In this case, I think it is better for people to go find a better fit for them. Sure, after years and years of struggle they might find a way to make the relationship work, but the odds are certainly not in their favor.

Douglas and Rosanne 1983 BGSU

There can be many reasons for staying in  a difficult relationship. We might feel stubborn about getting things our way and that stubbornness can cause us to invest more time than is probably justified simply to satisfy our own ego. We might think we can change someone if we just try hard enough. I am old to realize now that you can change someone else, you can only help them decide that the change is in their best interest. If the person can’t bring about the desired change in themselves, your best efforts will be frustrated. Finally, we can stay in difficult relationships because we simply want to believe too much. We will discount obvious evidence of a mismatch because we want — or need — the relationship to work. We don’t feel that we will ever find another person to share our life with ever again and so we have to make this relationship work, not matter what. We are trapped by our own need and desire to believe in something that might not be true.

Watching those around me engage in their relationships is an interesting way of analyzing my own. How comfortable are the people with one another? Do they always seem to be putting on a facade for the other person? Is it obvious that they want something very particular from the relationship that the other person is incapable or unable to deliver? I know I am surprised by how often I see these fundamental issues in the people around me. Even more amazing is how few people recognize these issues. Now matter how obvious they might be to outsiders, those embroiled in a relationship often have the worst perspective of what is happening.  Remember this fact and look for these issues yourself, so you don’t end up trying to believe too much yourself.

For me, a relationship starts with comfort. It allows for periods of silence. It doesn’t require acting like someone you are not. It requires converstions both shallow and deep. It requires an underlying connection that allows all others parts of the relationship to flow. When you find this, you have a solid foundation for future growth, future interest, future love and, perhaps, a relationship that could be the most important in your life.

Previously on End of the Day:

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