It is easy to be single. The only person you have to attend to is, well, you. You get to decide when you will have dinner, when you will head to the gym. No one is soliciting you to go spend time with their family and all parts of your world are in your control. It takes less effort to be single than in a relationship. However, what’s easier isn’t always what’s best. The rewards of a healthy relationship are said to have significant positive impacts on your health and your life.
You develop a better you in the context of being in community with others. You develop the craft to be a better self when you are in romantic relationships. Our individualist culture praises differences and independence; which leads to negative connotations about being in a relationship. Some classics are “ball and chain”, “tied down” or “locked in.” The battle of individualist argues that it is about control. So we fight to have control in our romantic relationships, instead of cultivating a collective effort to want what is best for our partner and ourselves.
There is a collaborative lack of commitment in our culture. I recall hearing a friend say this about not including her boyfriend in a recent decision, “It’s my body and I’ll get a tattoo if I want.” I thought to myself for a second. What’s the big deal with getting our partners opinion on something. Didn’t we make the decision to be with someone who we knew would challenge us when necessary and support us through our seasons. I had an analogy; a band sets up a play list so they have a plan for the direction the show will go. If one member just decides that they want to begin with another song, it is going to be a disaster. Not only will they be playing different chords, but they will experience emotions that come from the crowd being turned off by the unorganized tunes. What a mess. The same goes for our relationships. If we set out with a “play list” and a plan for the direction we want to go, there will be less discrepancy in the future. If we communicate our true needs and wants to our partners early on, we will be safe to make the appropriate changes in the relationship. We will also be safe to walk away if this isn’t the right relationship for us.
Why are we so afraid to make collaborative decisions? You don’t loose your individuality by respecting the opinion of your partner. Are we purposely becoming a society where individualism trumps hard work and collaboration? We complicate things a lot more. We place ridiculous expectations on our partners and the end result is disappointment.
What would it take for you to be happy in your relationship? Coffee in the morning, a kiss before work, and a cuddle in the evening, become things that aren’t good enough. We want extravagant treatment in a world where ordinary relationships have become boring.
Let go. We should begin by humbly accepting that we can’t always be in control; that we must consider our partners opinion and needs; that expecting too much is insane. We need one another. There is no shame in needing someone. When we begin to accept the basics of this, we begin to let go. We begin to see that a great team and partnership is something worth working for. Relationships and partnerships provide us with the sense of support and strength. It is easy to swipe left or right. Then get matched up with someone who swipes you too. You two have made your very first decision together- each other. You’ll have a bunch of other decisions to make from here on out. Its everything after the swipe that matters.
The Cynical Therapist came to be when two therapists became friends. SoulMates or Kindered Spirit Animals… Call us what you will…. We are two bad*** chics Licensed to teach you how to grow into your full potential and add some humor along the way.
Laurie Wilson and Elle Anzalone are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Huntington Beach, CA.