Tools for a successful relationship.

We live in a generation that idealizes love but we don’t know how to get it. Sure, we have Tinder, OK Cupid and a plethora of other online dating sites. We have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. And of course, the age old meet cute, Starbucks, supermarkets, bar, and the list goes on and on. But how do we achieve one of those relationship things the internet, our friends, society tells us about?

All over the internet, they are thousands, if not more, of articles telling how us how to get the guy/girl of our dreams. What men/women hate, how to be in a fulfilling relationships. There are Youtube advice videos, vlogs, ad nauseam. But there aren’t many on how to maintain and grow in relationships.

Sure you get the “how to keep the spark alive” and “how not to be boring with your spouse” but they talk about things that are superficial and well, a repetitive. Be honest, listen, communicate, don’t lie, be spontaneous, keeping things “spicy”. But how do these techniques really work out in the long run?

If I am “spicy”? Will that help me and my spouse have a conversation about shared finances?

If I am honest, how can that prepare me when meeting my partner’s parents for the first time?

These tools primarily focus on how to get a relationship and make it last until we both think “eh, I’m comfortable where I am.” It isn’t the necessary tools needed for let’s say, a life partner.

There should be more articles on having a conversation about marriages, whether or not children play a role, relocating, moving in, meeting the parents, career and relationships and the list goes on. In a long term relationship, many topics will arise with many conversations to be had. How can we master them to a successful relationship?

You got the relationship you’ve always wanted. Now what?

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Why are you single?

As of recent, I’ve been getting this question a lot. As mentioned before, I got out of a 8 year relationship about 2 years ago. I should’ve moved on – and in some ways I did: I focused on my career, my friends, my family, my cats. I didn’t feel ready to date – I needed time to digest what happened.

Now I know I have no excuse for this: I initiated the break up and told everyone who asked, I was okay. But some days I struggled and some days I feel fine. I wanted to be completely sure I was over it before even thinking about dating.

My friends have been amazing: supportive, kind, funny, caring, etc. I can’t complain. but I feel that anything you go through, only you know how you feel. Often times I felt like their intentions were good, but I preferred to be left alone.

After a while, I was back to being myself. Better even. I gain new appreciation as to who I was, my strengths, my weaknesses and concentrated on positivity.

But ever so often, I get the dreaded question: why are you single? And I’m baffled. I get thrown off. I’m a bumbling rambling idiot. “Uh, I…um..I don’t know”. Maybe I’m not thinking clearly: if I knew why I was single, wouldn’t I work towards coupledom? I don’t know why I’m not in a relationship. Ask them.

I know they have good intent and they usually couple it with, “you’re an amazing guy”. I know that too.

In the beginning, my response was “I just got out of a relationship.” Perfect. They nodded in understanding and we went back to our mindless conversations. Now, 2 years later, I have no idea. I’d like to say I am actively looking and dating but I haven’t. I don’t know how to start that – that seems like a lot of work: can’t I just be awesome and someone recognize that? Nope, doesn’t work that way.

So the follow up question is “why aren’t you dating, then?” I don’t know. Then I’d have to dig deep within myself and come up with some answer about how flawed I am to date and how many things are wrong with me – again, good intentions but I feel like roadkill.

I told myself I would date more but that hasn’t happened. I know my friends mean well, but I guess I can’t help this feeling of sadness when they ask it. At times, I just think, well what’s so good about being in a relationship? You have to be considerate of their “feelings” and such? I like my freedom and independence. Besides, jumping from one relationship into another is not a good pattern to get into. But of course they retort with “dating doesn’t necessarily mean relationship” and pause for my reaction as I gaze downward and say “yeah, I guess you’re right.”

I feel like as adults, you’ll be placed in these situations where you will be compared to what milestones you’re supposed to accomplish. Career, relationships, friends, engagements, wedding, baby shower – in no particular order. And you will be interrogated as to why you haven’t achieve these milestones yet. Is their something wrong with you? Tell us, then go to the corner while we stare, point and talk.

Of course that’s in my imagination but I do feel their pitying on me. It’s like a blanket – and I feel smothered.

I know this will be a conversation I will have until, I master this whole relationship thing and I get to be a judge on this crazy reality show of life.

But the one thing I remember is that for the most part, they want you to be happy. As one friend put it: “I want someone to love you the way you love people.” Dammit. That was good.

By Any Comparison…

This morning, as I went on my morning coffee run (I have a coffee maker but it’s for decorating purposes), I started noticing a thing I was doing. I was actively comparing myself, to other people – strangers in the street. “Look at him, off to work…or school.” “Will my coffee lady think it’s strange I’m getting coffee at 10 in the morning instead of being at work?” “What will become of me?”

What’s interesting is how natural, how effortless these thoughts came. Obviously, I have reason to be thinking theses things; I just quit my job and my 10 years in the education field does not translate to very many other things; but still, it was so easy to compare myself to someone else.

It’s been said, that we, as humans compare each other. We compare ourselves. It’s human nature. Like when we judge someone based on first impressions. There’s no solid explanation, just accepted theories. But if we are to be our own individual, with our own path and our own unique talents, experiences, etc; why do we feel the need to compare ourselves?

Maybe we’re used to our parents comparing us when we were younger. I can’t tell you how many times, my mother compared me to my peers or herself: I wasn’t smart enough, skinny enough, ambitious enough, essentially good enough. But I now know better, and while she doesn’t compare me as much, I also don’t take stock in her comparisons.

Nod intently and find a point on the wall. Now.

So why do I do it to myself? I panic when I think friends my age are married, have children, in a relationship, successful models, bankers, teachers, artists,  social workers, and the only thing I’ve accomplished is rearranging my closet (new shelf!) and getting coffee – already made for me. I’ve been told and sometimes agree that everyone is on their own timetable – we are all successful in our own right and our time will come, yada, yada, yada. It’s the unconscious sizing up of people and comparing them that bothers me.

Emphasis on the plural form of cat.

I realize we do this primarily because we, as humans on earth, we want to have an impact. We want to make a difference. We want to be seen, heard and valued. However, we don’t have any tools that will tell us how to attain that. We don’t know how to get there. There is no WikiHow or DIYs on that (I Googled). So we compare ourselves in order to have a template to follow. Whether it be our parents at our age, or our peers. It can be a bad thing when we take it too seriously but I’ve resolved that I’ll just be more aware, draw inspiration when I can and not take it too seriously. Who knows, maybe someone’s comparing themselves to me. Good luck with that.