We all know that relationships are great when they are great and bad when they are bad. To say that maintaining a healthy relationship is work is an understatement. It is a combination of patience, prayer, partnership, and compromise.
I am fortunate that my closest friends are all in long-term relationships, ranging from five years to twenty years strong. These serve as examples/instruction manuals for me in my own relationships. The one great thing I appreciate about my friends’ reflections on their relationships is that they are quick to say they are not perfect; and honestly, I know first-hand that perfection in any relationship- romantic or platonic- does not exist. Recently I had a conversation with one of my best friends and he recounted how his partner, a few years into their relationship, told him that, “Failure is not an option for this relationship.” That was my lightbulb moment.
In the last few years I’ve realized that most of the things we do or don’t do come from fear, and the same is true with relationships. So many people say they want to be in a long-term relationship but they operate from a place of fear. They have one foot in and the other foot at the exit door, just waiting for their significant other to do or say something that will cause them to walk through the door and say goodbye. I feel like all the lists of expectations we create ourselves, and the constraints and timelines that we assign to dating all come from a place of fear. Fear of being hurt, fear of thinking something better is around the corner and the fear of having a successful relationship.
When reflecting on how fear can often sabotage our efforts to be in happy relationships, most times without us even being aware of it, I’m reminded of the proverb, “Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.” If you are approaching dates with doubts instead of optimism, looking for disqualifications, suffering from the “grass is greener” syndrome, adhering to self-imposed rules or made-up timelines, those thoughts or fears are already negatively impacting your opportunity for a successful (not perfect) relationship.
Over the last few years I’ve learned a few things: I get what I give, the universe is working for me and not against me, there is no place for fear in my life, I am no longer afraid of being hurt, I look for the lesson in every situation (whether good or bad), I must love myself, I must forgive myself and, most importantly, my thoughts create my reality. As I get older and heed these lessons more, and as I learn from the successful relationships around me, I know I am ready to start my next relationship with intentionality and optimism.