Sunday, June 16, 2013

Anatomy of a Romance

November 21, 2011
"Consider how hard it is to change yourself, and you'll understand what little chance you'll have in changing someone else."
-- Benjamin Franklin

I’ve never pretended to be an expert on relationships. As a matter of fact, I used to feel like I didn’t have the first clue about what constitutes a healthy, stable relationship. That is, until I realized that my accute sense of observation and above-average proclivity for finding the fair and logical in everything have helped me formulate a solid grasp on exactly how the joining together of two people should be.

However, not every relationship is created equal. As I see it (and you may disagree), there are only three forms of relationships. Sure, you may think that your relationship has qualities of multiple types and, quite likely, it does exhibit tendencies of all of the below, but at its heart, every relationship embodies only one of these three categories.

I have witnessed examples of them all so read on and take a close, honest look for yourself.

1) Parasitic Relationships –

If the name of this type calls to mind those organisms that feed off of another in order to survive, give yourself a pat on the back and thank your high school science teacher. Parasitic relationships are just that.

A parasitic relationship always has a host and a victim. The trouble is that, sometimes, the victim is so enraptured with his or her partner and so willing to make a concerted effort to make the relationship work that they don’t even realize the relationship’s true nature until it falls apart. Sadly enough, this revelation could even take years to be fully realized.

These are those unions in which one person – often through duplicitous and under-handed means – exploits the other person’s feelings for him or her, subtly taking advantage or even belittling their beloved. This also can involve a situation where one person bears the full brunt of expenses as well as household chores, for those of you who are in serious relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, there is usually some level of affection and love involved in these relationships. It’s just that the dynamic between the two partners gets murkier and murkier as it goes on, with insecurity, a crippling fear of loneliness and other unresolved emotional issues preventing parasitic couples from truly reaching the self-actualization that can only be found with a equal, balanced and healthy realtionship.

2) Disparate Relationships –

One thing can be said with absolute certainty. Disparate relationships are a surefire way to avoid the single-partner domination indicative of a parasitic relationship. So, those of you who relate to this section at least have that on your side.

The catch, of course, is that disparate relationships are – in many ways – hardly relationships at all. In this scenario, the couple spends a great deal of time apart, to the point where they begin to grow both physically and emotionally distant. A typical situation would see one partner going out with friends on a Friday night, while the other stays at home surfing the net or catching up on some reading.

While a certain degree of separation and independence is a necessity for a relationship to go the distance, it’s becomes problematic when it becomes the norm. For this reason, many couples designate specific “date nights” to ensure that the spark in their love life remains fully alight for the duration.

Besides, if you’re in a relationship, you should be anxious to spend the majority of your time with your beloved. Otherwise, if you’re constantly looking for excuses to do your own thing or unwilling to put forth the effort to accompany your partner for a night on the town, you’re probably better off searching for a partner whose interests and priorities are more aligned to your own.

3) Symbiotic Relationships –

Time for the last of our three relationship types, and if you surmised that this is the one you should be striving for, kudos to you!

A symbiotic relationship – in short – is one in which both partners (not one or neither, as in the previous types, respectively) are equally committed to making things work. There is a more balanced divison of responsibilities, wherein neither partner is slighted, and rather than tearing each other down or largely ignoring each other, symbiotic partners feed off of each other.

When one is down, the other picks his or her partner up. They encourage each other to grow emotionally, professionally and spiritually, supporting each other and truly believing in their ability to pursue and achieve their goals.

If there are issues to discuss, symbiotic partners address them like adults, without yelling, name-calling or emotional attacks. They are lovers, confidantes and each other’s best friends.

Final Thoughts:
Cynics would have you believe that symbiotic relationships are nothing more than a fairy tale, that the single and lonely should be thanking their lucky stars just to be with someone, regardless of the relationship’s flaws and copious red flags. But I am here to tell you, right here and now, that that is bullshit.

As someone who has been perpetually single in the past, I spent years contemplating if I should settle for someone who was less than an ideal match for me, lest I end up alone completely. Luckily, my self-doubt and wavering self-confidence never reached that unfortunate nadir because, in my heart, I knew I deserved better.

Even though I had no logical reason to believe that I would be blessed with a symbiotic relationship, I had faith that the possibility still existed and that one day, all my years of patience and solitude would lead me down the right path.

So, for those of you who feel that you’re stuck in a parasitic or disparate relationship, have the courage to seek what you truly deserve. On some level – however indistinct it might be – people in these relationships can sense when a relationship is not meant to be. If this is you, be strong and find someone with whom you can share a symbiotic relationship. You’re worth it.

And for those of you, like me, who are blessed enough to find yourself in a symbiotic relationship, never forget to appreciate what you have and remember just how rare an auspicious coupling such as yours is in this crazy world.

After all, tis the season to give thanks.

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