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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Things we do for Love

"How come we only hear about the bad stories? Why doesn't anyone ever say, I had something good, and it's gone?"
Resident guest blogger Ask Fluffy weighs in on love, relationships and heartache.
A few days ago I was telling a friend about a bad dating experience I had in the past, and he asked: "How come we only hear about the bad stories? Why doesn't anyone ever say, I had something good, and it's gone?". And it stayed in the back of my mind, until I figured it out:

All those heartache stories are bad, because of the Things we do for Love.

And the reason why I'm quoting Courage the cowardly dog is also because his name is quite fitting for the situations we put ourselves into when it comes to relationships: We want to believe.

We want to believe in our love so hard that we're willing to sacrifice so much to make things work. And that takes courage. However, we are also cowards, because we are afraid to let go, and we hold on to our partner for dear life, often thinking it is the best we will ever have, or clinging on to the early memories of when the sex was passionate and the arguments scarce, scavenging on the remains of a past that is long gone.

When I look back on my relationships, I realize that letting go required an effort that I was unable to give. It was indeed easier to stay, put up with abuse or incompatibility, it was simpler to deny what I liked for the sake of "compromise". Because dontcha know, relationships are all about compromise, or at least that's what I've been told ever since I was a kid.

Relationships are hard work. Love is a battlefield. Love is a sport. You must be willing to sacrifice a lot to make your couple work. Rings a bell?

Obviously, being single after 3 long term relationships and a failed engagement probably means I'm not the best person to give advice on the matter. However, at this point in my life, I'm starting to wonder wether we hear so many horror dating stories because we're looking at the subject from a totally skewed angle.

What if we started thinking: relationship are simple? Love always feels good? couplehood is actually a ride in the park? If it's truly working, it shouldn't require much work? Wouldn't that help us put up with less? Would it make it easier to let go when things don't feel good anymore, or at least most of the time? Would it change our perspective on your bad experiences, and render them unnecessary in our quest for happiness?

When I say "the things we do for love", I'm obviously not talking about the caring gestures, or when we get out of our way to please the other (like waking up early to surprise them with breakfast, or running up and down the city to find that one gift you know will sweep them off their feet), I'm talking about the things we impose on ourselves to make room for someone that doesn't fit in the designated inner-space we have for the right partner.

There's an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted has his fiancée Stella watch Star Wars. And she doesn't like it, but pretends she does so she wouldn't upset him, as it's his favorite movie. His best friend picks up on it and takes her aside and says: "Ted watches Star Wars in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. Do you really think that you can pretend to love a movie that you hate, for the rest of your life?". And it might seem silly. But the things we like, wether it's a movie, or clothing, a hobby, or even food, those things define us. When you sacrifice these things for a relationship, or if you don't like them in your partner and pretend it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, you are basically saying "the things I love don't really matter" which can also translate into "I don't really matter". Yet, what do we do, as soon as we leave a bad relationship? We start doing those things we love again, and get a deep sense of freedom, we catch ourselves saying "I'm finally living again".

I'm starting to believe that if you need to constantly meet your partner halfway, then maybe they're not right for you. Think of it as a country. A country comes with history, culture, language, and local customs. If the weather (metaphor for love or chemistry) is great, but you don't fit in, would the weather alone be enough to keep you there for the rest of your life, or will you look for a place where you can actually thrive?

I mentioned language here because we all tend to express ourselves differently. Wether it's with words or actions, we all have our own specific language. You can express your love in ways that are completely inappropriate for the person you're with. They would be perfect for another, yet totally wrong for some. Yet we see those expressions of love and don't think much further. If you hate flowers and your partner gets your flowers on a weekly basis, you'll tend to think "he loves me", and appreciate the intention behind it, and think that it doesn't matter that you think giving flowers is cheesy as hell. You know that flowers are regarded as a romantic gift, and think something might be wrong with you and dismiss the fact that the gesture is right, it's just not right for you. And there's nothing wrong with desiring the things you do. There's nothing wrong with refusing someone's love, if it's not the right love for you.

Being alone is scary. But we should have the courage to say, hey, I want to be loved as a whole, and I want to love another as a whole. Nobody's perfect, but some people's flaws work with ours. A couple is a team for life. We should have each other's back, always. We should have the right personality traits to help them thrive in life, and they should be the same for us. Love is not enough. Love doesn't cure past wounds. Love is a feeling we get for various reasons, not all of them good (i.e. we can love someone because they fuel our dysfunctions, or they remind us of a broken parental relationship and give us the illusion that we can have a do-over and mend that relationship).

Have the courage to let go. I'm not going to pretend being alone is great. But it's definitely a hell of a lot better than settling for the comfort of mediocrity.


Recommended media:
Christopher Titus, Love is Evol, part 3/9

comments

April 1, 2014 at 1:02 PM Haitham Jafar

Very good read, thanks for sharing.. really.
I liked the analogy of the country-weather thingy, it hits more than one point!

I don`t know that series, EVERYONE is talking about it but I have never watched it (we have no TV! We accept donations though :D) but I liked how if one is ready for watching a movie for better or worse, for ALL times , etc .. . That also serves as a "notification"!

Relationships are hard, no question. And while it should be about integration, all the way, one needn't to (shouldn't??) deplete her/himself, faking who we are in order to please the significant other is not the way to go, at least not for an enduring long-term.
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If I don`t like watching that movie over & over / don`t want those flowers pouring over me each morning/evening / don`t like to visit YOUR friends each weekend / dislike trying new food each month / hate wintery places / etc .. etc .. I ought to be able to say so if I am wanting to be with u, it is not -just- sweet dreams and fantasies , it is actions, doing and communicating too. Further, if I say these things to u and if I`m not 100% sure u will listen, appreciate and accept my likes/dislikes, my aspirations as well as my insecurities, my opening-up for the little naive details AND the nitty gritty stuff then we might well not pursue (us). It is not but an attraction (which is fine by itself) but with no genuine future. We either work on the how to accomplish theses along our mutual path or just stop right there and avoid hurting our souls after some good time passes.
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This 15-minute clip might not be 100% relevant but -to me- it can be applied to anything, not just stress. It IS a matter of changing our perspective(s) + being honest with our inner "calls" http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend#t-5734
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U misspelled the word whether! "wether" ;D (don`t hate,, lol) but it transforms the meaning completely so I had to point it out.
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Apologies for the longish comment but obviously u stirred a lot of thoughts into me via yr post!

April 1, 2014 at 10:56 PM Ask Fluffy

Hi Haitham :) I'm glad you liked my post. Haha I did notice quite a few typos but since it's already posted I kinda played the ostrich and hope people won't notice ;)

I am familiar with this concept about stress being your friend, someone sent me an article about it a few months ago, and yes I agree that it is interesting to note how things can change drastically when you change your perspective.

We could discuss some points you brought up some more, but I'm a little bit sick, woke up an hour ago and no coffee :) I probably won't make much sense!

Thank you very much for your comment!

April 2, 2014 at 10:44 AM Haitham Jafar

Salamat, I hope u get better soon (coffee won`t help btw) "said the tea-person" :)

It is my pleasure to read yr posts, sometimes I read for you but w/o commenting because I don`t have anything worthy to add (as if what I did here is worth something, lol).
I guess we keep forgetting (ignoring?) that we, humans, are made of feelings too. Not just thoughts as well as body & flesh. Based on that, changing perspective surely has its effect.

I would love to hear more what you think of my comment, thank you.

April 4, 2014 at 7:48 PM Ask Fluffy

Hi again Haitham :) first of all I would like to point out that the writer of this post (me) is not the usual writer (Fadi). I only wrote one other article here (it's called "fairytales are so "once upon a time").

So I'm just curious to know why do you believe that relationships are hard work, you said "no question" as if it was a given?

April 5, 2014 at 3:12 PM Haitham Jafar

Hello again.
Well, when I said they were hard I meant it as opposed to being easy smooth-going "phenomenon" <--- not the best word, I know :)
I did not say that because of a certain factor / set of factors or anything like that. (does that answer yr question or it simply doesn`t make sense?)

Further, and in my view, a relationship is hard (not just nowadays but always!) because we don`t regard it as a two-way street. We would like to think we do but when it gets "tough" we start having numerous thoughts of letting go and concentrating on the negative side of such a relationship and accordingly begin our flee mechanism(s). Either by actually leaving "physical fleeing" or staying in it (if only for a while) but absently "emotional fleeing". We say to ourselves things like (we r growing so ever different, we want (& need?) different things) / (we have become different people) / (s/he changed) etc.. I realize I`m talking in a broad sense but let me try to sum it up with an example that I think resembles what occurs in relationships (based only on my observations).
one starts to date, exploring the nature of actually being in a relationship. First few "attempts" are mainly based on one, or a combination, of attraction, favourable chats, or simply loving the "love" feeling regardless of with whom it might be (or the person being secondary in the relationship, the very feeling of being with SOMEONE being the primary trigger). Soon a "discovery" that this person/relationship is not working, so .. moving along in + on the quest. This keeps happening until a timing of settling down appears to emerge. Of course this is not THE case for everyone, not all people hop on/off the relationship wagon and some (a lot?) are not considering being in one for more than 3 weeks (I`m not saying that`s good nor bad because I do NOT know actually) but I feel some parts of the story go like the one I described.
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*fluffy already asleep*
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I guess what I am trying to say is that having a relationship with someone and hoping for it to endure contains in its own self elements of riskiness, fears of not being accepted as we change and evolve. That`s what makes them hard. But then again that is how they are and if you want to commit to someone then you need to acknowledge from first-go that the two of you will change, will discover notions about each other that you don`t welcome, will pressure each other to the max. , will experience whole set of thoughts/emotions that either of you never expected they exist within you. Going on on a journey during what so called life and discovering + rediscovering one`s self, experimenting one`s limits and aspirations is nice, fulfilling, and adventurous. It is living.
Having to do that with a partner who would be willing to do EVERYTHING with you for the sake of being with you is worth to abandon the "discover-it-alone" mentality. And if that someone for any reason differs with you, builds tension due to differences, or makes you want to go mad you still accept that as part of the whole deal, because it was a choice, a choice based on the realization that no one is perfect and also that the choice you made was based on initial common ground between you and that other worthy person.

I`m not suggesting to ban dating and go with the first potential "fit" one encounters, but having the perspective from the start that no matter how hard you look OR long you wait that special one won`t be at the end of the path. You live, look for someone to share this life with you + you want to share yours with too and accept that mutual sharing along with the difficulties that come along with it.

Simple yet hard to harness, surely!
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I did not notice it was a guest post :) , I`ll go search for the other one you wrote.

September 27, 2017 at 8:51 PM Travis Smith

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