“Love is a Battlefield” “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, or any of the numerous cynical songs about how pointless love is probably came to mind as you read the title of this post; and I want to start by saying that that is not the direction in which this post is going.
That said, love is not all sunshine and rainbows; and I think sometimes people get the idea that it’s supposed to be. And this leads into what I consider to be one of the most cynical truths about love and relationships.
Love is Not About the Other Person
No one goes into a relationship because of their partner. You don’t look across the bar and see a woman who could probably use someone to hold her when she’s having a bad day; nor do you see a man who could use your undying support. You see someone who is attractive. You look first for someone who fits into a category of “what you’re looking for” because that is the first step toward the true, selfish purpose of relationships, which is that we get into relationships for the sole and express purpose of getting our own needs met.
Relationship Needs and the Relationship Agreement
We all have within us a drive to meet our needs. We eat because we need nourishment, we drink because we need water, and we fall in love because we need companionship. We are not designed to function independently, and so it behooves us to be around people who are going to support us. Relationship needs run the gamut from having someone to talk to all the way to sexual satisfaction and reproduction.
Being Selfish in Service of Your Relationship
Think about your relationship (if you are in one. If not, think about the sort of relationship you want to have). What needs are being met by being in that relationship? Do you feel supported by your partner? Do you trust them to keep your secrets? Do you feel safe with them? If so, they are meeting your emotional needs. If not, then a frank conversation may need to be had. This is what I like to refer to as a “relationship agreement.” Basically, being in a relationship is supposed to benefit you in some way; and vice versa.
Drafting the Agreement
A relationship agreement does not have to be intensely detailed, and it definitely doesn’t need to be written in legalese.
It just needs to be clear about what your emotional and relational needs are. Take some time and think about what it is that you want in your relationship, and write it out. Then bring it to your partner and have a discussion about what needs you have in the relationship, and listen to their needs. Many of these needs will, in a healthy relationship, be met organically. Hopefully you don’t need to say “I need to know that I’m not going to be intentionally physically harmed by you at any point in our relationship,” but it can still be a good idea to think about these boundaries if for no other reason than to be aware of them.
Once both of you feel heard, you can start talking about how you can work together to meet those needs!
What are some other “cynical” relationship truths that you’ve encountered? If you decide to give this activity a shot, tell me about it in the comments, because I would love to hear about it!
And a quick side note, I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated; and I will own that. Hopefully I’ll get back into a groove of updating regularly again.
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