Every relationship is different.
It can be emotional, romantic, platonic, physical, etc.
Each one is different.
The question is: who are we to one another? Do we want to pursue that?
Reflecting on this early on in my life, what I kept running up against was my perception that in romantic relationships especially there was this sense of “No, this is what a relationship is. If you’re in a relationship, it is this.”
That made no sense to me.
I would respond that to me, every relationship is its own thing.
The real choice is, do you want to participate in what this is? Are you both conscious and clear about what that means?
This came up recently when a friend asked me about my relationship with my wife, Samantha, because of the weird and disruptive diet we’re on. Because we’ve done this kind of thing a couple of times, I was struck by the question.
It carried the assumption that in a relationship, what you want to do is protect the other person and disrupt them as little as possible. That’s the kind and loving approach.
This gets into values, which brings up another example of a place I think there’s an argument.
One side says, “My values are this. If you have values, they are this. If you don’t believe in my version, then you don’t have values.”
Fascinating, because we all have values. We just often value different things.
I might value avoiding pain. I might value loyalty. I might not value connection. I might be compelled by a totally different agenda.
Being clear about what you value, also in the relationship, and having permission to stand in your truth is important.
In other words: what you value isn’t wrong. It’s just yours.
Then, we line them up and see what fits.
A really key thing in relationships is non-negotiables. If you line up with another person on those, you have a great foundation. And I think you’ll find a lot of other things are negotiable.
For instance, in my marriage, it’s very clear that dogs are not negotiable to my wife. She needs to have dogs and be with them. It’s not good or bad, it’s just a truth about her. We didn’t necessarily know that truth about her right away, but we had to discover it.
When you understand values and non-negotiables, you can choose to be in a relationship, know what it comes with, and accept that.
Generally, people want to feel safe in relationship.
But that can promote a kind of anti-growth mindset toward the other person.
“Don’t bring anything weird in here. Don’t disrupt anything. You’re not the person I married.” All of that. This wasn’t part of our agreement, right?
What that says to me is that couple, or at least that person in the couple, has an agreement – unspoken or not – that you should not be who you are now. I have a right to expect you to not really change.
Personally? I find that boring.
I really like that my wife is not the person I married. We’re both super growth oriented, and that’s a total positive for me.
It comes back, as usual, to consciousness. What is your level of consciousness about yourself? What do you value? What do you prioritize? What’s non-negotiable? What’s true of your partner? And is that really a good fit?
Hit reply and share your reflections on these questions if you’d like — I’d love to hear.