Checking Baggage, Heading To The Gym
May 18, 2007
This is the third post in a series “that will attempt to define relationships and how each of us, as men and women, have come to develop certain expectations when it comes to those relationships. We will look at the baggage we all carry, be it from the past or baggage that comes from certain expectations and assumptions about what the future holds.”
Part One: Friends First, Friends Forever
Part Two: Getting To Know You
We all carry baggage. We can decide to check that baggage or we can carry it.
Smart people check their baggage. Not so smart people do not. It’s that simple.
If we learn from our mistakes, the baggage gets checked. if we do not learn from our mistakes, we carry that baggage like the proverbial yoke around our necks and blinders over our eyes. The dance of life is never joyous when we have to carry and wear baggage.
If we don’t learn from the past, we aren’t letting go of the baggage and we remain immobilized. “What went wrong?” and Where did I screw up” are questions meant to elicit answers and actions. It is not enough to ask the questions and dwell on the answers or the should haves and could haves. The answers and critical self examination must spur action- and that means making a clear and conscious decision not to repeat those mistakes or to repeat the behaviors that led to those mistakes. If self examination does not result in positive actions, the questions and subsequent answers are meaningless. Asking for directions, getting them and never leaving the driveway do not a road trip make.
When it comes to ‘getting it right,’ in relationships, there is no one size fits all. It is also true that there are patterns of behavior in which we engage. The following are some common behaviors that will never enhance a relationship:
- Not allowing enough time for a real friendship to develop. Jumping into the sack in the hope that physical ‘intimacy’ will enhance a relationship.
- Unrealistic expectations. Everyone wants to find Mr or Ms Right. Sometimes, we assign our own hopes and dreams on another and expect them to fulfill our dreams and desires.
- Sex. Not just too soon, but too much. Everybody wants great sex, all the time- nothing wrong with that. Still, there is such a thing as too much sex. If sex (no matter how great) takes away too much time from exploring and deepening an intimate friendship, or takes time away from friends and family, there is a problem. Couples need time to talk, listen and learn about the values that make each other ‘tick.’
- The excitement of a new relationship is intoxicating. It’s great to have fun, be spontaneous and enjoy the ‘events’ that are part of the process. Consider this: While a dating partner may be a load of fun, it doesn’t mean they are responsible, caring, kind or thoughtful.
- Indecision is more than paralyzing. It can be toxic. If you are seeking the approval, advice or opinion of friends or family of the person you are dating, you have no business dating.
- That you have endured a breakup or failed relationship is not news. Not moving on places a heavy burden on your date. He or she will interpret your obsession with failure in very personal terms. No one you date wants to believe you haven’t moved on. That is not a message you want to send. Like you, they don’t want to waste their time.
- Be yourself, not who you think someone else wants you to be. No one want to be with a mirage that will eventually disappear. Real spontaneity and honesty are the real carbonation of any relationship.
- Jealousy and abuse, whether verbal, emotional or physical, are not ‘signs he/she cares.’ None of those dysfunctions are a part of a healthy relationship of any kind. All abuse is toxic. There are no exceptions.
- Making excuses for bad behavior and/or lack of appropriate communications will not enhance a relationship. Saying ‘He’s just not the communicative’ type or ‘She’s just high strung’ are not expressions of ‘understanding.’ They are expressions of capitulation and manipulation. You aren’t 9 years old, making excuses for a friend’s bad behavior.
Remember this, too. Relationships predicated on shared interests are bound to fail. Relationships predicated on shared values are more likely to succeed.
Interests, by definition, change. A shared passion for mountain climbing may bring two people together. If one partner wants to take up scuba diving or chess, and the the other wants to climb Everest, the foundation of the relationship, that shared interest, has eroded.
A relationship predicated on shared values, is very different. While interests may change over time, values usually do not. Over time, values mature and become more refined and nuanced. Shared values tend to bring people closer together, irrespective of what their interests, ethnicity, careers or even religion might be. We need to love and be loved for who we are and not for what we do.
The same applies to sex. No matter how good the sex, no matter how ‘intimate’ sexual intimacy might feel, it is not enough to sustain or grow a relationship.
Suppose you were free to spend 3 hours a day to enjoy the best sex you’ve ever had. Three full hours a day, every day. Great. That leaves 21 hours a day to live with and communicate with your partner. No matter how spectacular that three hours a day, seven day a week sex might be, there is whole lot of time left. If that three hours a day can satisfy your relationship needs, well, good for you. Then again, how long do you really believe that will last? Are you willing to waste the time before having to start over?