Gimme One Good Reason Why I Should Never Make A Change
In terms of this blog, relationship-related posts always get the most feedback. Not surprising, since this topic is endlessly perplexing and forever a cause of agony for most people, or at least to my audience of about 10 readers (thanks, guys!).
As some may have read from my previous post, I’m moving back to Hong Kong in a little over a week. This event has caused some life themes to resurface such as career path, $$$, what is the meaning of it all, etc. ( or what I like to call the saga of a 20-something) In this jumble of juvenile anxieties, there is the relationship.
The long distance phase of my relationship is finally coming to an end after two-something long years. This inspired me to reflect a bit about what I've concluded without diving into too much personal details, while trying to be as honest as possible. It’s less so of what I think makes a relationship work or fail, since very relationship spins on its own axis and goes by its own timeline.
If anything, the inner workings of a relationship are ridden with oxymoron, where the only common denominator is a shared will of being together. It's more of what I think is important, especially as I've reached a milestone in mine.
Independence vs. Dependence
Relationship experts always point to the importance of independence, or that co-dependence makes for an unhealthy relationship. I agree with both, but I think respect is the driving factor, rather than a conscious effort to have your own life or give that persons space. These are things that come naturally.
I don’t want to say that people in relationships don’t often respect their partner, but I do think that there’s a tendency to see that person as solely your boyfriend / girlfriend. But that person is a self-actualising human being, and has responsibilities towards his / her friends, family, career, etc.
With that in mind, there is no reason not to give that person the space to fulfill these duties to those people and themselves. And the same goes for yourself.
That being said, I think there should be some degree of codependency in a relationship, simply because you do fill a special role in their lives. This is not an ‘I can’t live without you' mentality. Rather, it’s being a confidant to that person – to be someone they can turn to, be themselves without inhibition, and trust for constant support. This is mutual and without it, there’s no relationship to speak of.
Sacrifice vs. Self-Preserving
I’ll explain my thoughts about this with an example. My boyfriend is based in Hong Kong and my decision to move undeniably has to do with him. People have expressed their thoughts about this and I understand their misgivings and why society does not view this as an informed choice.
I’ll start by saying: sacrifices have to be made in a relationship. I'm moving because his life is, at this time, less flexible than mine. If the situation today is that I have the more successful career or more potential for success of the two of us, then the expectation would be that he has to make the move, should we decide to be together.
If two people are determined to create a future together, then a compromise has to be made that maximises the benefit for both parties. That sounds frigid and unromantic, but in my mind, that’s the way it is.
At the same time, I can’t say that my decision to move is a sacrifice on my part because it’s also self-serving. I love Hong Kong and look forward to the career opportunities. But I can say for a fact that if being with my boyfriend was the only reason for me to move to Hong Kong, then I absolutely cannot justify that kind of change. It's not about love; I have to be responsible for my own decisions, instead of pushing that responsibility on him.
Authenticity vs. Change
Another big relationship no-no is the idea that your partner, if they love you, should accept you as you are 100%. In my mind, this has a certain degree of truth to it; you should feel completely free to be yourself around your significant other. But the idea that they must embrace your undesirable qualities is seriously misled.
Loving someone means accepting their quirks, vulnerability, and small annoyances. But it does not mean accepting an unreasonable attitude, unyielding stubbornness, and uncontrollable anger. On the flip-side, that person has lived most of their life without you, and they can live the rest of their lives without you, too.
Changing yourself into a better partner is what a relationship is about, if you want to stay in it. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be childish, high maintenance, and unaccommodating. Those are things that I hope to change about myself, and I don’t expect anyone to have to put up with those qualities if I’m showing no sign of self-awareness and growth.
We’re all imperfect – that’s a given. And some virtues are bred, not born. Knowing when to let things go and knowing when to stand your ground is a fragile balance. Understanding what the relationship is asking of you, rather than what you want from the relationship, is the correct measure for whether you're staying in it for the right reasons.
What do you guys think? Let me know your thoughts!