Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Causualties of Comfort

The Casualties of Comfort
"...You don't need to change
A thing about you, babe
I'm telling you from where I sit
You're one of a kind
Relationships I don't know why
They never work out, they make you cry..."
-Griffin House

Author's Note: Before I start this post, I feel it is necessary to start out with a brief explanation.  This post is not (merely) a review of my past relationships, but a review of many relationships I have been a second-hand witness to that calls to my social scientist side (I guess my bachelors did pay off for something).  As usual, these thoughts are a result of meditating on the subject while running, so may make absolutely no sense at all.

            The beginning:  Aren't the beginning of relationships beautiful?  Whether with a new friend or romantic partner, there is always an excitement to them.  A new person to share your passions with, to learn from, to synergize with.  After all, relationships have been getting more and more press about how they are the #1 key ingredient to a happy and healthy life.
            There is also a hesitancy with new relationships.  People go out of their way to be polite, not offend, and simply be kind.  Most even go out of their way to leave small but impressionable gifts of love, maybe by flowers but more importantly by the note that comes with it.  The relationship grows and so does the love between the two.

             But what makes it stop?  Why, after a few months or maybe a year or two, does the politeness or small acts of love begin to disintegrate?  Why does it become okay to criticize and not worry about hurting the other's feelings in the process?  Why does the communication slip?
             I don't think (in most cases) that the love is disappearing, but the "unconditional" aspect blends in with the conditional.  This is just a theory of course.
             As trust deepens, people naturally, though hesitantly at first, feel comfortable to let their flaws begin to show.  They find out that their flaws are accepted, and feel free to let more of their imperfections be revealed.  Before you know it, it's for okay to walk around the house in your underwear, despite the scar on your thigh.  Waking up with a bad case of bedhead is no longer worried about.
             But then something happens, not drastically, but slowly.  It becomes okay to criticize little things.  First for not always putting the dishes away as soon as your done eating and then things more personal, accusing things like "Why are you always late?  You know I like to be early." or "Why can you always run in the morning but not have enough time for so and so?", forgetting that running or whatever hobby is precisely one of the things that drew one to the other, or knowing that running or whatever activity is important to the other's well-being. 
            Then the discussion of "no it's this way, not that way" transforms from a playful jest into a competition, a fight for who's right and who's wrong.  A surprise might turn from an attempt at a thoughtful act to a critique of "why didn't you ask me first?".  Last comes the lack of support.  Suddenly it's okay to skip a date because something "important" at works comes up.  Or one offers up advice in the form of "well, you've never done that before so it might not be your best idea."  At the beginning, wouldn't that have been "Yes, of course you can do it.  Let me know how I can help."?
            Reading this, it probably seems very petty, and it is.  But I bet your thinking about how the comfort in your own relationship has led to causalities, whether it's you are your partner being hurt by one (but often repeated) simple act.  Most likely you can not point out exactly when this change came about it your relationship as it happens so gradually, but you can note the changes of constant support to little grievances that are no longer forgiven.
           While it is often bigger things that lead to a close of a relationship, it is even more often a build-up of all the little things.  Even if it doesn't lead to the end, it does have a direct effect on the quality of the relationship and each person's happiness.
           As mentioned before, I've seen this happen in most if not all relationships I've witnessed.  Many are still together.  So is it still an issue? Absolutely.  For relationships, for love, to grow people need to be cared for and nurtured just as much as the spring flowers beginning to seep out of the soil need rain and sun to thrive.
           The solution is relatively simple, but needs practice to become a habit.  The number one step is simply to be mindful.  No, not nervous and self-monitoring like at the beginning as I do believe comfort in a relationship is a good thing too, but just aware of  words choices and the meaning/feeling behind them.  Then notice when you are more short-tempered, saying things that are often not meant.  Also, its good to notice if one does have a habit that is known to drive the other  bonkers (ei. leaving the toilet seat up) and the possibility to maybe, just maybe, change your ways for the other. Once one is aware, change can begin,
            I believe another good practice is constantly reminding oneself of all the things love about the other.  What was it that drew you like a magnet to your partner at the beginning?  It might be awkward at first, but it wouldn't hurt to share those thoughts from time to time with your significant other either.
             Per my usual beliefs, the last solution can be learned from the world's greatest teachers...dogs.  Actions speak louder than words.  It definitely doesn't hurt to say "I love you" but showing it is often more meaningful.

Yep, I think I'm loved.


Wild and Free,