This is the second part of my response to Patti about romance. Part I is here.
My love life wasn’t always a bed of roses. Most of what I know about romantic relationships, I learned the hard way, by making lots of mistakes. (I think you can learn a lot from studying your mistakes, especially the ones you make repeatedly.)
1) When the initial wild rush of falling in love fades, as it inevitably must, it doesn’t mean you’ve fallen out of love.
2) If a relationship has run its course, it’s best to end it in a timely manner. If you catch yourself half-hoping he has a fatal accident on the way home, you’ve waited too long.
3) Put plenty of time between relationships. Otherwise, you run the risk of choosing your next partner solely on the basis of how they differ from your most recent ex. (For a particularly appalling example of this from my own catalogue of romantic disasters, please read Bad Luck Bob, in which I explain why I married George, the incompatible stranger.)
4) If you wake up next to someone you just met, do not say to yourself “I’m not the kind of person who has one-night stands, therefore this must be a relationship.” Do not let him move in, do not support him, and do not spend the next two years trying to make it work, especially if he’s not your type and you have nothing in common.
5) Force yourself to talk about the hard stuff. Do not sweep problems under the carpet and try to forget about them just because you dread confrontation. You won’t forget about them. The toxic accumulation of unresolved issues will ooze out from under the carpet and slowly poison your relationship.
6) After the novelty of a new relationship wears off, it’s easy to start taking your partner’s qualities for granted. You just get used to them, and you stop noticing and appreciating them. Keep a list of the things you love about them, and review it frequently. Even better, keep adding to it if you can.
Should a good relationship still take hard work?
Hmmm. I’ve read many times that good relationships are the result of hard work, but I’m inclined to think not. A good relationship is good largely because the partners are well-suited to one another. I think every relationship requires a certain amount of routine maintenance and compromise, but I don’t think a good relationship should require much hard work.
However, bear in mind that my record for a relationship is six years. In my experience, relationships are easier in the beginning and get harder over time. Maybe if I’d worked harder at them, they’d have gotten easier and they’d have lasted longer. (On the other hand, please refer to Point #2, above.)
Let’s face it, this is not my area of expertise. What do the rest of you think about Patti’s question? Does a good relationship require hard work?
The Ask Me Anything series will continue for the next little while. If you have a question, ask it in the comments or by email at zoomery at gmail dot com.