the in-between relationships

Deep Cove, BC

What if we can ultimately define the relationships we want? As I get older it seems harder to understand relationships and how I feel toward them. When you open your heart, you realize your capacity to love is tremendous. But loving doesn’t always lead to romantic relationships. There are people I love but don’t want to date because of various reasons. Circumstances and timing play a huge factor. Timing is the point in time when opportunity meets courage and action. Relationships, as difficult as they are, depend on two people. Good timing for one and not the other can impact the outcome. But it doesn’t mean you love them any less than someone you’d want to be in a relationship with right? The argument is that if you love someone enough, you’d ultimately want to be with them. No questions asked.

I’ve seen countless blog posts about this. People sharing their stories of relationships that failed before they even begun. Misaligned expectations; she wanted a relationship but he didn’t; s/he was emotionally unavailable; love yourself enough to let go/walk away. If s/he loved you they would’ve made the sacrifices necessary to be with you. And in the end those moments you’ve shared become memories that leave you confused or discouraged.

So what are these relationships? Generally speaking, they are; acquaintance, friends, best friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife. What if your relationships don’t fall into any of those categories? The boyfriend/girlfriend thing didn’t quite work out, do you become friends? If you can’t be friends then are you nothing but a person in the past? It makes me sad to see people walk away from those they care about because the relationships we know, no longer apply. Why do we have to let society define our relationships? Society says don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. If it didn’t work, let it go. But why do we have to limit ourselves?

Things don’t always work out the way we want them to. When the person you’re pursuing says they’re not interested in a committed relationship with you, maybe the answer wasn’t necessarily no, but not now. The opposite of acceptance is not rejection; it’s indifference. Often these misaligned goals from a potential partner leave relationships empty because the conditions were not met. Why do we limit our love to those willing to give us what we want?

Annee Ngo, Co-Founder and every day hustler of Protohack explains it like this. “True love is when you care about the other person so much you’re willing to accept whatever they are emotionally capable of. We can’t let society define our relationship just because they don’t fit into the relationship categories we know”. We’ve been told time and time again to “create the life you want”. “Be the author of your own story”. Wouldn’t your story include relationships as well? What if two people can create the relationship they want? Define what the expectations and commitment look like and build love within those parameters.

Many of my older friends (ages 50+) have already been through divorce(s) or have never been married. They have ‘partners’. I used to think… “Oh they’re so silly. Not willing to commit to marriage and just label their significant other as a ‘partner’.” I thought of it as a fear to pledge to one another. Yet if more than 50% of marriages end in divorce anyway, what does this label mean?

Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, TedTalk speaker and most notably psychotherapist for romantic relationships says, “Monogamy used to be one person for life. Today, monogamy is one person at a time.” According to Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, explains the idea of marrying in the name of love has only been a phenomena in the last 50 years. We’ve been taught that if you love someone, you should have a romantic relationship with them. But what if that doesn’t have to be the case? What if instead of asking will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend, we can ask, will you be my partner in life? That to me, means so much more than the conditions that limit how I can feel toward someone important. To be able to create a relationship in lieu of a title society has defined for me. 

In the end, love that is honest, genuine, and selfless doesn’t need to be limited.

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