Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Define a "successful" relationship.

After a mead tasting and one beer later, the conversation turned to relationships and how some of ours started. A friend of mine began by saying that she knew instantly that the guy was right for her; it wasn't a relationship that took time to blossom, like a friend into a boyfriend. They met and it was done. She said that all of her successful relationships started that way... then she took that back. She recanted:

"Well, I'm not with them now, so I guess they weren't 'successful'."

I thought about it for a split second and then replied that I didn't think that they weren't successful. What makes a relationship successful? Because it ends in marriage? Or something else?

I told her that I thought my most successful relationships ended with me and the formerly-significant other being friends, being able to talk and hang out and leaving the relationship having learned something. That, for me, was what defines "successful."

As I've thought about it more tonight, I realized that most people consider relationships to be "successful" when there's some sort of finality attached: they end in marriage. I'm guessing this is because marriage is the logical point of reference for most people's "successful" relationships.

But that's never been a point of reference for me.

My parents' relationship didn't end in marriage; it ended in divorce. Most of my married friends are either newly or re-married. And, honestly, most of the people I know in long-term relationships *never* got that piece of paper that proclaimed them "married." I'm not saying their relationships have been without cheating or break ups or problems... but they're still together after many, many years. Their relationships never underwent legal changes and the inevitable (aka court-ordered) financial ramifications. They handled their problems without a judge, and sometimes, the problems worked themselves out without a "divorce."

I'm guessing it's all perspective. For me, "successful" relationships don't end in marriage. However, for most people, they do. I'm not going to understand the other perspective, although I can appreciate it. I don't think that's a logical way of looking at relationships... that is, to assume that being successful means lasting forever. I think that people grow and change, and through life, people outgrow and out-change each other. If you don't grow and change, then what's the point of living? I mean, I hope that I can find someone to grow and change with me and I with them. However, I have experienced firsthand how unrealistic that hope can be. Hey - I also know that it works for A LOT of people... I've just never seen it in my own life. So it's not a reality for me. This is nothing to be sad or self-loathing about... it's just the truth. For me. And maybe some others. And maybe no one else. But it's all I know.

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