… because a relationship is not the type of thing we go window shopping, see something that catches your eye and voila-it’s a happily ever after sort of tale. It’s more like a gamble, or better yet, a trade of common interests and values.
Welcome to my small ted talk today; for those of us who love, have loved or are still holding on to the promise of love … It’s February and I feel extra on this love topic- call me cupid (ess)*
We do not look for partners to complete us; rather to complement us. How true, and yet how false at the same time. The younger me would object… I would say that we choose partners (whether for relationships or occasional trysts) who make us whole; in the sense that with and around them, we feel ‘more of what we are’, more complete, more accomplished, happier, more alive and everything admirable. The me (now) would concur. I would say that before you know who you wholly are outside of someone else, you will never find any form of completeness from another. That being in any relationship will not make you any happier if you are not already happy with yourself. My point here is that it is only when we are comfortable with who we are that we can truly function independently and in a healthy way in our relationships.
I digress…It’s a year or so ago.Not really, just a couple of months ago, when my elated friend walks over to me.
‘Kim, with whom am I my best version’-she asks.
Aren’t you always at your best, I tease. But deep down I get what she means and the answer she is hoping to get.
‘I ask because for this, I want to be at my best version…I need to be at my best version. She adds.
That was then, and I felt really proud her for acknowledging that she may not always be at her best but she was ready to take the challenge to consciously bring out the best version of her.
But since then, I have thought about the question with much more seriousness. Not in the sense of my best version really: more like the feelings that other people elicit in me- whether or not they bring out the best of me. (And this is not me throwing the burden of bringing the best version of myself to the people around me. Okay that looks like it). Am I excited to be around them or am I am I weary of the idea of spending time with them. Do I feel energized after a meeting with them or do I feel drained. Am I at naturally and unapologetically myself or do I feel the need to keep a certain image. This way, I can choose where and on what to spend my time and invest in relationships and activities that make me a better person.
That is besides the point. In my ted today I ask, so what makes the perfect union? For sure, nothing; because perfection is out of this world. But I do know of elements that comprise healthy unions. Here we go!
- Self- awareness. There is more to self-awareness that understanding your strengths and weaknesses and embracing your flaws. It goes to being aware of the stimuli around you and taking charge of your proactive and reactive manner. It’s learning how to give yourself the ‘I know this has offended me, and I need to let my partner know about it in a constructive way. So rather than giving them the silent treatment or getting distructive, I will let my annoyed-self calm down and pick it up from there. It is being aware of the consequence of your actions and words to the people you love and being conscious of their human nature as much as your own.
- Empathy…. Stepping into their shoes and letting yourself experience the situation from their frame of reference. Easier said than done. Like how many times have you looked at your partner in absolute dismay thinking to yourself >>>‘
who does that’<<< 😏😏or …>>>’ what kind of a choice did I make here to be with this one, how did I even end up with them🤨But at the end of the day, you come to the realization that you are two separate individuals, and your point of view is not necessarily the right or accepted point of view.
- Adaptability… Any great relationship has a degree of compromise and deliberate effort to adapt to your partner’s needs without losing your individualism. The simplest case scenario is tuning yourself to your partners love language and consequently getting to love them the way they would like to be loved. Adaptability is much of finding a fair balance between blending your similarities while respecting your differences.
- Consistency. In my opinion, there is no bigger challenge than consistency. One, because we demand consistency from people who are not even consistent with their own selves. (neither are we consistent with ourselves- how many resolutions have you already broken since the year started?!)….and two, because we do not live in isolation. We meet partners in the course of our ordinary life, probably with running relationships, maybe dealing with previous relationship baggage, mostly in the midst of the chase and the dating haze. At a time when you barely know what you want with your own self, let alone with another. (Btw, in this relationship life, there is no bigger challenge than a third party/divided interest. Yaani, mashida hutokea tu mahali and suddenly you feel like this type of problems cannot be solved…naona tu tuachane). Piece of advice, take your time! No one is chasing you into a relationship, or is there? But once you make that choice, accord them the loyalty that they deserve.
- Check in- fully. Be wary of the ‘almost relationship’ trap. You may or may not be familiar with the almost relationship zone…It could be that you are there, with a partner that you see no future with. Or in that grey area where the relationship never moves to the next level. Or most commonly, either of you wants to keep the options open while the other wants exclusivity…
- Now here, I honestly cannot say much because the balance between a good relationship taking time and the danger of sitting on the unsure edge too long is a concept I personally struggle with. That notwithstanding, be sure to communicate your expectations; and have the grace to know when to hang on or walk on.
That’s all from cupid-ess’ desk today. Ps. There is no greater calling than to love and to be loved-unconditionally…