Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships. I mean A LOT. Like more than my usual boatload. Not really sure why? Have I ever told you what the three most important things in life are (in my ever so humble opinion) – relationships, relationships and relationships. I’m not just talking about romantic attachments or family alliances either. I’m talking about how we connect with everyone who crosses our path. Friends, colleagues, fellow hobbyists, blood family, adopted family, neighbours and lovers.
And so I got to wondering, if you could only pick one, what would you name as the single most important aspect to a successful relationship? What is that one special thing you yourself could bring to every relationship; that secret (or not) ingredient that would propel the mix to fruitful and rewarding heights.
For some it may be passion. Not just sexual passion but that joyful intensity one might bring to the arts, sport or vacationing.
For some it might be intellectual harmony. It’s pretty hard to have a thriving union when you’re either way smarter or way stupider than your partner.
For some it might be emotional compatibility. If Johnny’s empathetic sensibilities are securely locked away while Mary revels in daily discourse about how she feels, I fear their prospects of flourishing together are fairly slim.
Then what about commonality? I remember my parents counseling me back when I was in my 20s, advising that a similar background and lifestyle would greatly benefit my choice of a life partner. I found out the hard way they were right. I was dating a guy at the time whose family reckoned Christmas Day was an optimal occasion to inflict full-out psychological warfare on each other. I had never in my 28 years experienced a Christmas Day that wasn’t loving and joyful (or at the very least loving and calm) and I can tell you this new “normal” shocked the hell out of me. Needless to say, the guy and I did not last.
And then there’s everybody’s favourite – the ability to compromise. The hardest damn thing to do for sure since far too many of us are more interested in winning the battle than the war. We allow Pride to dictate our intentions, Stubbornness to influence our actions and eventually Hubris to win the day.
So I’m looking at all these elements and they are all vital and viable and I’m still not seeing the ONE big thing that is the key.
Until I do.
You see, when it comes to relationships I think the one thing I am sure we are ALL guilty of is this: WE HAVE AN AGENDA.
Yep. There’s always a desired end-game that leverages every thing we say, every thing we do, every thought we share and every secret we keep. We want something from this relationship, damnit, so we are fully prepared to play our part with award-winning flair to win whatever prize we have conjured.
Case in point: years ago after sustaining my big fat broken heart, I met (online) a lovely man in … Vancouver (why make things simple?). After much communication we decided to meet and explore possibilities. The big difference between J and me was that he decided to meet me and explore possibilities. I, on the other hand, had already (subconsciously) composed the Disney ending. We would meet, fall in love, I would move to Vancouver (already in love with that magnificent city) and we would live happily ever after.
We did meet and sure as shooting fell in lust. And we had fun. And adventures. And stimulating conversations. So I figured we must be in love.
Except we were not. And he knew it.
So there I was going all Disney and he kept trying to reign me in, saying “Vickie, can’t you just live in the moment? In the reality of the moment? Why isn’t that enough for you? Why are you so insistent on painting this picture that actually doesn’t exist? What is so very wrong with living the picture that does, even if it isn’t in technicolor?””
Yeah, thanks. Good questions, J. Where the hell were you when I was growing up with Cinderella and Snow White?
So now, all these years later, I actually get it. I actually have learned (the hard way) that the best relationships are the ones that you are in exactly as they are. The ones where you have no agenda and no pre-planned conclusion. The ones where you always tell the truth because you know you have nothing to lose or gain. The truth is the truth is the fucking truth (one of my favourite sayings). You’re never afraid of saying too much or too little or the wrong thing or even the right thing because guess what? The only thing there is, is the truth. And as long as you are checking in with that every day you truly can do no wrong. Your truth is your truth. You can own it with dignity and share it with confidence because it IS your truth.
I’ve lost a few “friendships” over these past years because apparently my truth did not fit someone else’s agenda. And believe me, each of these “friends” had an agenda. When I stopped fitting it, they stopped wanting me.
The beautiful thing, though, is that for every friendship I have lost, I have gained two. And these new friendships are born of my new reality; there is no agenda. I do not expect you to “act” a certain way or “be” a certain person or even “respond” to me as I might choose. I am simply curious to learn who you are and then curious to see where that knowledge takes us. Eyes wide open. Let the adventure begin.
I am so grateful for the teachers I have met along the way, and those I continue to meet. I’m also hoping that somewhere along that same way I may have imparted a lesson or two.
As for today’s takeaway – take a good close look at all of your relationships and decide if an agenda (on your part, you sure can’t control theirs) exists. And if it does, please banish it to the Disney Kingdom of Bullshit. Bu-bye. Try approaching that same relationship with no program. Just be honest. Speak your truth. Own your truth.
And then let the chips fall where they may.
Doesn’t that sound exciting?