When I think about all I have learned in my life through experiences and my relationships I am able to see how my desires in life have changed. To say that a person never really changes is a bit of a myth in my opinion. The truth is, the people who are not changing are not ready or do not have a desire to. Change is always possible and often necessary in order to live a full life. I am definitely not the same woman I was at 21 or 31. I have grown a lot through the years and I feel I am getting better with age.
So with that being said, I also realize my desires in a relationship have changed. With the ending of each relationship it is good to re-evaluate where we are in life and reflect on the things we found good and bad in the relationship. Breaking it down during the grieving process is not just helpful to make sense of things but helpful to gain clarity on what you want to do differently moving forward. I know there are things I will do differently moving forward in my life. I have spoke about setting boundaries and I believe that is one area where I am definitely going to be stronger but also paying closer attention to a persons other relationships.
When I think about a great partnership I often think of qualities I would like in a man, the real focus for me is not just his individual qualities but how he interacts with the world around him. Observing an individual and how they interact with their family and friends, coworkers, strangers they encounter in a normal day… I have found this to be the most telling about an individual. We often tend to put our best foot forward when we are newly dating and really like someone, so we are more likely to be on our best behavior. I prefer to take a different perspective. The level of openness, vulnerability, time devoted, and how a person communicates and interacts with others that have been in their lives for a while will give you better insight into what you will see of them once you are passed the honeymoon stage. This is probably the most valuable lesson I can take away from my most recent relationship.
Looking back and considering the interactions and relationships that already existed I can easily see all the signs of things that would never work to nurture a happy healthy relationship. I admit I saw it early on but as a typical therapist minded individual I saw potential for change and believed I could be the catalyst. Unfortunately, I chose to ignore the fact that the desire and readiness for change in him had nothing to do with me. I know looking forward I would like someone capable of building deep and beautiful relationships with the ability to openly communicate and be vulnerable, challenge himself to take risks when it comes to connecting with others. A person who initiates the hard conversations and the intimacy. Someone who is willing to face a challenge head on and not run away when things get hard. A man who understands in order to keep the spark alive it takes effort and doesn’t just happen magically. These are things that set a man apart for me.
My parents have been married for 56 years and they are the first to tell me that relationships take work. Yet they also express the absolute purest form of love with each other that I have ever seen. As I watch my dad help my mom in the kitchen they tease each other and my heart feels full of joy. A simple kiss from my dad to my mothers forehead as he passes by to the sink with a dirty dish….my short mom reaching for a bowl on the top shelf and my dad laughing as he reaches to get it for her. My older brother is married with four little boys, we get excited and talk loud retelling funny stories on each other. My 18 year old daughter watches her four nephews run around like crazy and becomes more clear on the fact that she does not want children…we laugh because we both know someday she will. Observing my family at the holidays and how we interact I know love is a staple that can be easily found.
I know not all families are like mine and not all people have had good examples of a healthy relationship. The desire to learn, understand, grow and have those relationships has to be there in order to change for the better. This can be scary and hard at first, if you haven’t allowed yourself to be vulnerable and face the hard conversations before but it is so worth it. People who truly love you and want to know you will respect and appreciate the effort. Observe those you are getting to know and may be considering spending more time with. Long talks over dinner can tell you many things but just watching a person interact with others is even more telling. Learning about a person takes time, don’t rush it, and pay attention to actions, they often speak louder than words. Watch, listen, and learn….
With love, health and happiness,