I wrote an article that was posted on Thrive Global called Changing How We Measure Success in Relationships, and I received several comments and emails about it ,so I wanted to share more on why I wrote it.
I was sitting in a coffee shop one day – a beautiful, eclectic place where there are interesting light fixtures made out of silverware. None of the chairs match each other, the furniture is old and worn thin, and there’s the smell of French pastries. There were lots of kinds of people are sitting at tables interacting either with their laptops or with their phones or with each other. And I started thinking about interactions, human interactions, and relationships.
How do we define success in relationships?
Culturally, we are conditioned to think of life as consisting of a few small relationships. Then we expect THE ONE to enter our lives, and voila!, Happily Ever After. We are trained to think that there will be only one successful relationship – with THE ONE . The others relationships are sideshows until the REAL relationship occurs. Meanwhile we’re having REAL relationships ALL the time!
Think about it. We are conditioned to think that a relationship is a “success” only if it results in two people marrying each other and staying together until one of them dies. And we are taught to think of a relationship as a failure if it does not result in marriage then someone’s death. This is so ingrained that it is even in marriage vows – “until death do us part” after all.
Aren’t relationships also successful when people support and love and help each other grow, even if they breakup and nobody has died?
What about those relationships that result in great kids and philanthropic efforts and companionship and camaraderie and even friendship?
Aren’t relationships successful when you learn something about yourself and you learn how to empathize and care for someone else?
Does somebody really have to die for a relationship to be deemed successful? (And yes, I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect here.)
Are relationships really successful when they last a long time, but are full of abuse or toxicity or emotional withdrawal or dishonesty? Are relationships successful because the participants have decided to endure an unhealthy situation rather than deciding to fix it? Or to leave it to thrive? Aren’t some relationships great for a while, but then paths diverge?
Those were the thoughts that led to the article. Take a look. And I encourage you to think about how our culture could redefine successful relationships, as well as to consider what a successful relationship really means to you. Where are your boundaries, what are your requirements, and what happens if it is time to move on? Under what conditions will you feel like a success vs a failure when deciding to walk away or to stay?