By Staci Welch-Bartley
Anyone over the age of 30 has more than likely been involved in a significant romantic relationship with someone they believed was their soul mate. Only later to have life take a sharp turn, finding themselves single with a shattered perception of love, a broken heart, and a heavy feeling within that allows them to begin carrying around a lot of guilt, shame, and anger into all of their future relationships. I myself spent many years wondering why I could not find the right person to love for a lifetime.
I definitely experienced times where I would feel the thing that told me I had found the one and only person I was going to love forever. Only to realize months or years later that I needed to get the heck out of the relationship and that it wasn’t going to work. It appeared to me back then that everyone else seemed to be great at relationships and I was the only one failing.
I have now come to a larger understanding of this whole love thing.
I realized one day while asking “why me?” once again, that all of my relationships contributed to my life, and taught me something about who I am. They had given me increased clarity about what I truly wanted out of relationships, and showed me a real demonstration of what worked and what didn’t in regards to my behavior.
When I made this realization, I asked myself how my past relationships could possibly be considered failures when they had contributed so much to my life? Who and what says my past relationships are a failure? What is the measuring stick that is used to judge successful relationships? Perhaps these questions would give me insight into why I was not hitting the mark.
After this research, I realized it was time! Time is the measurement we use to determine success in relationships. How long did the relationship last? People always ask, "How long were the two of you together?" If it lasts for a lifetime, we say, “Great job, you’ve succeeded!” And if it doesn’t, “You failed, try again!” It is crazy when you really think about it, isn’t it?
Here are a few more things we believe about relationships that I have found are just not true:
1. When you have chemistry and attraction with someone it does not mean you are in love.
2. When you find someone that you want to build a relationship with it does not mean that it will work out forever. Things change.
3. We expect to get relationships right the first time we fall in love. And yet, to become masterful at any task or skill, we have to practice, practice, practice and practice some more. Why would building healthy foundational relationships be any different?
When we throw out the time measurement and look for the contributions of valuable experiences and new growth a relationships is given us, there is no such thing as a failed relationship. There is only personal growth and evolution. Which are two very good things!