This year we’ve been restricted to our homes and forced to social distance. Across the world, it has been documented that domestic abuse rates have increased, divorce applications have surged and workplaces are seeing heightened tensions between work colleagues. So, let’s talk about relationships. Relationships can be beautiful things. They can provide support, security, enjoyment and can keep us on the straight and narrow. There is something special about the relationships we chose to have, the way we have them and how we even find them in the first place.
The ability to connect with someone or with a group of people because of a commonality you share is, in my opinion, a fantastic thing, even if that commonality is disliking something. I have known people that have become friends through a dislike of Love Island or EastEnders. They became close friends and have since found so many other things that bring them together. I find it interesting how people that you think are complete opposites can sometimes become the very best of friends or partners.
Everyone’s opinions on what makes a good relationship, I know, are never going to be precisely the same. However, I find it hard to believe that there aren’t a few similar things we all look for in a relationship. Respect and kindness are probably my two biggies.
There are so many different layers to any relationship, almost onion-like (Shrek reference). Not everyone can be reliable or make you laugh or smile all the time. It can be challenging to find someone who can always be there for you.
It’s essential to look at the bigger picture when it comes to the relationships you have. You also have to remember you can decide if you wish to have a relationship with someone or not. It’s one thing in life that you can control.
There are lots of things in our lives that sadly we cannot control. For instance, those of you who have jobs that they may not necessarily like, but unfortunately there are bills to pay or dependents who need support. Realistically quitting and finding a new job may not be a feasible option right now. Sometimes we have presentations we just don’t want to give. But sadly, your final grade requires you to. There are times when the thought of sitting in a traffic jam for 5 hours makes you want to put pins in your eyes, but you’re needed at that birthday party/baby shower/funeral, etc.
There are always elements of our lives we just can’t control. However, deciding what relationships to be in, that is something only we should be able to determine. It shouldn’t be your best friend Alice, or your cousin Samantha, or your Mum, or your Dad or your best friend from primary school, who happens to be your housemate, Lucy. Not even the other person in the relationship should decide for you. No-one should feel forced to be in a relationship. Therefore, it is also so crucial to know when the relationship is no longer right for you.
Relationships have a significant effect on our lives. I’ve struggled to have relationships that I feel aren’t one-sided. I have realised I tend to be there for people more than I feel they are there for me. Although, I used to be okay with that, well at least I thought I was. I have always been a support mechanism for people in my life, but then never really expected them to be there for me. This is partly due to some of the negative relationships that I had when I was younger. These relationships left me feeling very alone and unsupported. So, as a consequence, I became less concerned about my own needs and more concerned about those around me.
I have now learnt my limits within relationships; knowing what makes me happy, what I can and not tolerate. Although, I would never want to let anyone down or feel as though I am choosing just to give up. I know how upsetting it is when someone walks away, without trying, or without reason. However, you have to know when enough is enough and when you genuinely cannot try anymore. It takes a strong person, in my opinion, to acknowledge when things aren’t right in a relationship. It takes an even stronger person to walk away from that relationship if you feel you’ve done all you can. No-one ever wants to give up on someone or something that they have invested in.
If the other person, or people, do not want to try or keep up with their side of the efforts, then how can you continue to do so? It is not acceptable for one person to be trying and the other(s) either don’t see the point or make excuses not to.
Relationships have to be, to an extent, equal. I appreciate that on some occasions one person may be able to offer more than another. For instance, if only one has a car – they may agree to do drop off and pickups. Whereas the other may work shorter shifts and decide to cook the dinner.
Relationships are about compromise. Compromises can and should help create equality in relationships.
My partner and I are continually compromising. But because we want to. It makes our relationship feel equal. I don’t think I do more than him and vice versa, which avoids any resentment and we know we can rely on each other. I sometimes walk the dogs in the morning, because he starts work earlier than I do, but he will walk them in the afternoon. One of us will clean upstairs, and one will clean downstairs – it is not just one of us doing everything.
I think that’s what I’ve learnt the most about relationships; you have to be a team. You can’t just carry the other for the entire relationship. Life throws all sorts of challenges at us every day, and sometimes one person may need to do more or carry the other for a while. If one of you lose your job or have a family member pass away, the other may need to be there for them more than usual. That is what it means to be part of a team. It just has to be clear that it isn’t always the case; otherwise, the balance and equality within the relationship is lost.
As I’ve said before, these are just my opinions and of course everyone has their own way of doing things. I just hope that everyone can and do have relationships that they are happy with!
If you are worried about your own relationships, or if you would just like to read more on relationships I have included some really helpful links below which you may find useful.
Mind – Workplace relations
Relate – Relationship help
Psychologies – My difficult friend
Psychology Today – 4 Keys to Leaving a Bad Relationship