What are relationships? Well, depends on what one is talking about. A relationship in general terms is how one thing relates to another. What is the relationship between an apple and an orange? They are both fruits and grow on trees. What is the relationship between between a pen and a pencil? They are both tools for writing.
What is a relationship between two people? Depends on the situation. It could be everything from brother/sister, parent/child, friends, husband/wife, worker/coworker, etc. We are all involved in a variety of relationships. Some are unavoidable, some are intentional, some are convenient. However, for the most part, when we talk about relationships, we are talking about the relationship between two people – two people who, for one reason or another, have decided to share their lives.
No matter what kind of relationship we have, it is like anything else in our lives. It requires a bit of work. Perhaps not physical work, but it requires us to ‘give and take’. We must be willing to accept the other person for who they are, and they to accept us. We must be willing to accept that we cannot change the other person to suit our needs. We must be willing to accept that everyone is different, has their own opinions, and sometimes, it may not fall into what we are looking for in that person.
Over my lifetime, I have seen a variety of relationships flourish, and fail. I’ve seen those that get stronger with time, and those that fall apart shortly after they begin. Why? Well, the first thing I believe goes awry, is that there is no communication. Each person is afraid of saying something that may upset the other.
In my opinion, the one thing that you must have with someone else in your life, is the ability to talk to each other. Otherwise, how will you find out what pleases the other person? What displeases them? What turns them on? What turns them off? What foods do they like? Are they a cat person or dog person?
Yes, I will agree that the first thing that brings two people together is looks. How vain that may sound, we are all alike in that way. We see the other person as attractive to us, not necessarily that they are attracted to us. In so many cases, and I’m sure you know several people in your own lives, as do I, those people have broken up because of this one little fault that we all have.
If however, you’re able to find someone that not only is able to carry on a conversation, but can also be a good listener, then things begin to change. As adults, we’ve all seen the ads in newspapers or online services or on T.V., or wherever. “Looking for someone to share long romantic walks along the beach. Dancing under the stars, just the two of us.” The only place I’ve ever seen these type of people, quite frankly, is IN the newspaper ads, ONLINE, or ON T.V.!
I can only remember one couple, many years ago, who met, dated for less than a week, got married, and the last I heard, are STILL together! Every other person I’ve met as an adult, who wasn’t already married, have broken up and gone on to ‘greener pastures’ so-to-speak. Why? Communication! They don’t talk to each other. They’re too afraid of a) showing their true feelings, or b) afraid of how the other person will react, or c) afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings.
When you figure there are over 6,000,000,000 people on this planet, you have to stop and wonder… is the first person you meet the person you will a) be friends with and b) be a partner to, for the rest of your life?? As the saying goes (and I’m going to change it a bit), “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your Prince or Princess Charming.”
A relationship, no matter what the status, requires work on all sides. It requires a bit of give and take. It requires a bit of understanding. It requires a bit of self-esteem. It requires openness. How many of us have friends that we have had for years and years and years. Some, you can barely remember how you even met. Some people can trace their friendships back to kindergarten! I find that amazing! How can any two people stay together, even in a friendship, for countless numbers of years?
You talk. You talk. And you talk some more. You get to know the person. You understand them. You know what gets them going, what calms them down, what they like, what they dislike… why can’t we do that with a partner? Why is it, that meeting someone means that we’re all looking for a partner? Can’t we just be looking for a friend? A soulmate doesn’t have to be anything more than a friend who understands you.
Some people can’t understand that there are people out there who just simply don’t want a lifelong partner. They are content with being single, or alone. Yes, there are a lot of words we use for people like this, but more and more in today’s world, people are opting for that lifestyle. I, for one, am that kind of an individual. I am quite happy living the life I live. I have a few good friends that I can talk to. I have great co-workers and employers who are willing to share my life. I have the freedom to come and go, do what I want, work the hours I need to, buy the things “I” want, travel to the areas of the world “I” want to see, and not have to answer to anyone but my bank account!
If a friend is willing to share these experiences with me, hey, I’m all for it. As much as I enjoy traveling on my own, I certainly welcome someone to travel with me. It makes it easier going out for dinner, sitting in a casino, or touring around the area. It’s also nice to have someone take pictures, knowing that they won’t run off with the camera!!
I don’t know what life was like 50 or 100 years ago. I don’t know why people got married and never divorced. I know that the world has changed. I know life is, probably, a lot more difficult and stressful than it was years ago. Or maybe we just have different difficulties and stresses in our lives. We have a lot more freedom to visit the world around us, we have a lot more ‘things’ to buy, should we so desire, we have a lot more personal needs or wants or desires.
Do I want a relationship? Depends on the type. A friend relationship, yes, definitely. A partner for life relationship? No. Tried that, been there, done it… I don’t need the problems, the hassles, the ups and downs, the break up. My last relationship ended once I decided to stay in Taiwan for my second year. I decided then and there, enough was enough.
People always ask why I don’t want a Taiwan person for a partner. My answer: it is unfair to both of us. First, my life here has shown me that Taiwan people, or even more generally, the Chinese culture, doesn’t travel far without family. They don’t GO far without family. Sure, they may study in America or England for a few years, but eventually, they all return home to the family, to the homestead, to the culture. A few do emigrate to other countries, but as soon as they can, the family comes with them.
Second, should I ever decide to leave Taiwan, knowing that I may go home to my culture, to my family, chances are pretty good, that the Taiwan person will not be joining me, due to the reason given above. If you are friends, a friendship can still carry on over borders. If you are a in a partnership, that is not always easy to do. There are also other considerations, such as VISA applications, residency certificates, etc., that can hamper a partnership. It is easy for me to go back to Canada, but how easy would it be for a Taiwan citizen to be granted a residency permit in Canada? Also, are they willing to leave behind their life, their family, their culture, to become a Canadian citizen? Almost as likely as I am to give all that up to become a Taiwan citizen! The odds of me ‘giving up’ my Canadian citizenship – well, let’s put it this way… I’ll probably win the top prize in 6/49 before that ever happens!
Getting back to relationships. No matter what kind of relationship you have, talk to the person you have the relationship with. Whether it be partner, friend, or family. If it is a strong relationship, no subject should be taboo. You should not feel obliged to do anything or talk about anything. You should not feel that you are hurting the other’s feelings. A true relationship between two people warrants honesty and openness. Otherwise, you may as well stay strangers.