It makes the world go round, apparently. If you've read H²ELP, you may remember I mentioned I was going to write a chapter about relationships, but ultimately decided against it. Well, consider this to be a supplement to the book. I don't claim to know everything about everything, but I do have a certain degree of insight which stems from experience. Most of my experience comes from ruining relationships, whether they were my own or somebody else's. It's an unfortunate fact I have to face; I've hurt many people and somehow justified it my whole life.
Since I've reached into the bowels of my mind and gotten over my own reticence to admit I can be wrong, I've had several realisations and subsequently developed an incomparably healthy attitude towards everything relationhip-related.
The "proof" as it were, is that I've somehow managed to be happy with one person, and I enjoy making this other person happy too. Everything I do is for her, as cheesy and unrealistic as it sounds. I have to consciously restrain myself from spending needlessly and doing ridiculous things all in the name of love, and it's crazy to think that it was never really beyond my reach. I've always been able to have this, had I just managed to be honest.
A key stage, in my opinion, to a relationship is the start. It's important to start as you mean to go on, as they say. This being said, however, bear in mind that although it's harder to "fix" relationships years down the line, it is by no means impossible.
A good romance is one which is mutually beneficial and supportive. Yes, it's all very "grown-up" stuff, isn't it? But it's the way to go. If you have an idea, a project or a goal and your partner just says all the problems with it, says you're incapable of doing it, undermines you at every turn, puts you down or just simply ignores you, something is wrong. That attitude doesn't make you feel good about yourself, and if you truly have an objective you want to accomplish, then it reduces the chance of you fulfilling that aim. It's not a supportive attitude.
Of course, you want someone to be able to honestly critique your plans, or you may never forsee all of the issues you may face, but foremost, you need someone to share in your joy or your enthusiasm. The plans you have don't really matter, but the excitement of looking forward to following through with them does, and it's important to have that spark lovingly kept alive. This also applies in the other direction, so now you have two people who make each other's enthusiasm even greater, who help each other achieve their dreams, no matter how weird and crazy, and it's a tremendously positive attitude for a relationship.
People often say things like "the key to a successful relationship is happiness" and I have a tendency to swat away these kinds of wishy-washy statements seemingly pulled from thin air, however in this instance, I must agree wholeheartedly. By this, I don't mean to say that you need to share every single detail of what you ate for breakfast and its digestive journey throughout the day, but rather, be honest about how you feel. That is such an important factor.
Nobody can be angry at you for feeling a certain way. The way you feel may be upsetting, and people can be peeved if you've felt a certain way for a while and not told them, for instance if you feel you're losing interest in someone. If you communicate how you feel openly and honestly with the knowledge that communicating is the right thing to do, then you're one step closer to being in a great relationship.
That being said, honesty is so, so hard sometimes. You may have a day when you're feeling down, and you find you're not even in love anymore. How incredibly disastrous! It happens though. Instead of denying the feeling and not giving it thought, embrace it. Accept that this is how you're feeling today, and if it helps, you may want to convey that sentiment so that you both know where you stand. Be aware that feelings can change from day to day, and maybe tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, you might be back in love again. Unconditional love doesn't really occur all that often in the minds of the clinically sane. And it's selfish to expect it from someone too; you might accidentally run over your partner's dog, and although it was unintentional, he or she might have a hard time forgiving you, and might possibly even resent you for a while. That kind of loss can be tragic, but it happens. If you can express your resentment or anger in a healthy way, you can get over these things with enough time, chocolates, flowers and apologies. If you hold back the honesty, you might find yourself harbouring an internal grudge which can jump out unexpectedly at any time. And if it's years after the fact, you might not even remember why you feel resentful. You might just assume you don't like your partner anymore or that you think you should move on, simply because you didn't communicate properly and you weren't being honest.
Openness is easier to practice with a significant other if it's an established part of the relationship in the first place, but if you have an honest talk and really try to wiggle through the awkwardness because you truly want a mutually beneficial relationship, then nothing is stopping you. Again, no one can put you down for being honest about how you feel.
Remember that in order to be honest with someone else, you must first be honest with yourself. The main lesson to take home from the book is that notion of self-honesty. It's the key to everything else, so please please please get over your own ego and try to uncover the truths about yourself you never wanted to admit. Your life will thank you for it!
There is so much more to a happy relationship, but this post will be far too long to read if I were to lay it all out here. I may or may not write a part two. Before I finish up here, however, allow me to give you one more "secret" to romance:
Love involves sacrifice, but it's worth it.
Sometimes, you need to sacrifice an afternoon of TV to see your partner's mother for no good reason, but it's better that you go and show some support or at least respect. Your lazy afternoon would be wasted anyway, so why not? There's really nothing worth watching anymore.
Sometimes, you need to sacrifice time in order to do nice things with and for your partner. Take time to go for a stroll somewhere, have a decent conversation, talk about anything, play a game, the possibilities are endless. You might find that it's not such a sacrifice after all.
Sometimes, you have to understand that you can't just fuck everything that moves and also have a meaningful relationship with somebody. And that's a hard one to overcome. We all have impulses, some more strongly than others, and it's important to accept that. You might find yourself looking at other people sometimes and thinking of ways to go about pursuing them. It's ok, it's normal, don't worry too much about having the thoughts. It takes practice, but when you have these notions, try to remember what you really want. The relationship you've already got. It's more important, it's worth the energy of denying yourself some sweet sensory satisfaction with somebody else. It can be a struggle for some, believe me, I would know. It can be almost painful to deny your own urges. It is, in fact. It's like an addiction when you withdraw; you're imposing self-discipline in order to prohibit yourself from quaffing any nepenthe, and your brain probably won't like that. It's vital that you understand that you can't have both. Make the sacrifices because they're for the greater good.
I'm staggered to find myself writing a whole post about relationships without mentioning the sex. Well, stay tuned for part two, I guess...