Relationships Are Hard

Relationships are hard. However, they are going to be hard for two entirely different reasons, depending on where you are in life.

In the early stages of your life, you were taught a specific dream. This dream is a promise of happiness, of filling the void you might have started to feel within. And as you walk the world, with this dream in mind, sure enough: one day you lock eyes with another person who shares the same dream. You let yourself fall, knowing that the other will catch you, and you explore the cosmos together, bound by the unspoken promise that this intoxicating rush of energy and inspiration will never change.

However, you grow; and as people grow together, they sometimes grow apart. Gradually, you start noticing how you have needs that are not tended to, and as these feelings and circumstances gradually swell and overshadow the initial bliss, you might find yourself starting to resent this person who you imagined was responsible for your happiness. Either that, or you start making yourself feel guilty of having these desires. All these apparent transgressions seem fixable, however, and upon clearing up each misunderstanding, each argument, each betrayal, you find yourself back in each other’s arms, over an over again, refusing to let go of something that you worked so hard to keep. You feel like if you leave, you might never find your way back again. Your lives are lived in the moments of calm between the storms, sometimes giving lectures to others about how maintaining a relationship is hard work, and sometimes watching movies where romance is defined by risk, foolishness, and suffering. As life goes on, each secretly hopes that the other will change, and you both try, you really do; but as emotional debt accumulates, change becomes harder and harder, until it becomes impossible.

You fall from the dream, and it’s a long way down.

The second stage comes after you’ve cried yourself to sleep for a while, but dried your tears and faced the world again, this time alone. Over time you realize that you weren’t a failure for not being able to hold a broken thing together. You’ve started to stitch together the gaping void that’s been left upon departure of the person who was supposed to complete you, because you finally start to believe that you were never missing a half. You were whole all along. The next person you choose to intertwine with, you will choose so because you recognize that they are whole too, and together you can be overflowing. The next relationship you have is better because you are better. It’s still hard; but now it’s hard because the other person doesn’t owe you a version of themselves that enables you to avoid the responsibility of facing your own fears. It’s hard because suddenly there is less prescription from society about what you should do in a given situation. When you get jealous, you are responsible of asking yourself: why do I feel insecure? When you have an unfulfilled need, you are responsible of asking yourself: what is my desire, and have I communicated that to others? Each time you will learn a new thing about yourself, and with each milestone you reach, you can look back and appreciate how much you’ve grown.

And then you will realize: the other person is going through the exact same thing as you. You’ve both worked so hard on yourselves before you were able to meet somewhere along this road. Neither person’s journey is over, and things will continue to be challenging still, but at least now you understand that the other person isn’t there to carry you, but merely to smile and offer their hand when you stumble.