There’s no known law in all civilized countries that stops anyone from being in a romantic relationship. Relationships give meaning to our chaotic lives. They soften up the normally difficult world around us. Simply say, we need them. But what makes them worthwhile. What makes a romantic relationship healthy?
A) Respect for each other’s intelligence.
It’s hard to respect someone’s opinions and ideas when you don’t respect their intelligence. And it’s hard to maintain a relationship if the ideas and opinions of one party are neglected every now and then.
Your girl might be cute, hot and sexy. But if her mind doesn’t persuade you enough that it’s capable of superb thinking, you’ll not respect her enough. Even if you did, you won’t value her opinions and ideas. And like every human being, she’ll hate you for it. In the long run, the relationship won’t be healthy enough.
Some gurus talk about tolerance and how you can pretty much love anyone. But what they normally miss is the fact that tolerance and loving anyone – no matter what – works only in situations when you don’t have to live with the person most of the time. Such advice is perfect for mere friendship but not close, intimate and romantic relationships.
Most people are perfect only when you’ve not lived with them long enough. But get a little closer and the tolerance will eventually succumb to nature’s invisible forces.
You can tolerate and love anyone as long as you two don’t share a bed from time to time. But if you’re attempting to have a full throttle healthy relationship, you’ll need much more than that. Hiding your emotions – which is the basis of tolerance – won’t cut it. Of course you’ll have to hide your emotions from time to time even in a healthy relationship but only in extreme situations.
Indeed, certain virtues can only be met for a short time. But given time, every human being can only put up for so long.
Respecting each other’s intelligence means you’ll collaborate more on different issues. You’ll respect each other’s decisions more. All in all, the communication will be superb.
B) Having similar world views.
This one is huge. Your world views might not be the same. But at least they need to be similar.
If you look at the world through a religious lens, you’ll have conflicts of interest with a partner who sees it through a scientific lens. Most people still bring tolerance as a virtue that you can use in such situations. But you won’t survive for so long.
Eventually there will be cracks in your armor.
You might perhaps want your kids to have a religious world view yet your partner prefers them having a scientific world view. And each one of you will be so sure that their way of thinking is the right one. Hence problems will arise.
And that’s just a macro example. There will be micro problems. For example you’ll get sick and prefer prayer over medicine yet your partner thinks it’s a stupid idea. And that’s not even micro enough. There will be day-to-day decisions to be made. Situations to be handled. Problems to be solved. And if your world views are not similar, you’ll have a very hard time getting through all of them unscathed.
Our decisions and choices are based on how we view the world. What our beliefs are. What we think is possible and what’s not possible. And simple divergences in world views can have huge significant outcomes.
Take the growth and fixed mindsets phenomena.
To someone with a growth mindset, everything can be improved. To such a person, no matter what your circumstances are, you can always make some effort to change them for the better. From how you look, to what you know to how rich you’re. Nothing is spared. You can consciously influence everything.
Yet this is the total opposite for a person with a fixed mindset. To such a person, things are what they are and little can be done to change them. A fixed mind thinks if you majored in Education at college, your life will be that of a teacher no matter what you do. To such a mind, the cards you’re dealt during the early years of your life can never be changed.
If you’re born into a poor family, then God has decided you should live a life of poverty until you die.
If your partner’s mindset happens to be the opposite of your mindset, you two are going to clash over trivial matters whether you want it or not.
And worse, one of you will attempt to change the other’s mindset. Which always ends in failure of course. And within no time, your relationship will be at the brink of disaster.
The point is; ignore the difference in world views at your own peril.
C) The desire to spend time together.
You can respect someone’s intelligence. You can have similar world views. But it’s not enough. Okay maybe that’s extreme. Of course it’s good enough. But if you want to improve something that’s already incredible, a couple more things are important.
It’s imperative that you truly enjoy spending time with this person. It’s needful that you’re not always wondering when in the world a conversation is going to end.
To have a healthy relationship, you both need to like spending time together. You have to wish you could still keep on having each other’s company even when the circumstances require you not to. This warmth between you two is so important. It’s what gets you through the hard times. These invisible bonds keep you coming back to each other no matter what.
So, the next time you feel like it’s an obligation rather than fun to spend time with someone, it might be a sign that things needs to change. It might be a sign that maybe your search for a special woman isn’t over yet.
Because at the end of the day, it won’t matter if she’s intelligent enough. Or if she has a similar world view to yours. Human beings are feelers. We give a lot of importance to our feelings. And in most cases for the right reasons. If she doesn’t make you feel calm around her. If you don’t feel relaxed around her, the above two qualities might not matter after all.
D) Understanding your own emotional baggage and knowing how to communicate it to your partner.
If you manage to get a partner who ticks all the above boxes. Congratulations, you’ve just successfully passed one of the most important exams in your lifetime. Getting a worthy partner.
Most people fail miserably at this exam. And then a couple of years down the road, they wonder what went wrong. You can’t happily live with someone who doesn’t meet at least one of these criteria. Yet most people do just that.
But it’s one thing to reach the top. And another to stay at the top.
That’s how emotional intelligence comes into play. Knowing your emotional baggage and knowing when and how to communicate it to your partner is sooo underrated. And if she does the same thing, you’re officially the only couple to crack the monogamy code (in case of marriage).
Our emotions are at the center of our very survival. But they also play a key role in messing up the good parts of our lives.
Indeed, none of us is spared from these irrational emotional tendencies. Meaning the trick is not trying to overcome them. The trick is in realizing that no one is above them. And that everyone is like everyone else. The only difference being; each of us deals with it in a unique customized way.
And since your partner can’t know what kind of emotional fog you harbor deep inside your mind. It’s only fair that you tell her. It’s only wise to narrate your mind to her, in a non-threatening way. In a way that tells her how imperfect you’re and how you don’t mean to mess up sometimes. And more importantly how you plan on being a better man.
With time, if she does the same thing, your relationship will be rock solid. Especially if you take the judging out of the picture.
Try not to judge her and I hope she doesn’t judge you either. You’ll be good.
It’s obvious now that not very many people meet all of the above criteria. And it’s for a good reason. It takes considerable knowledge, self-awareness and courage to meet them. That’s why these traits are not so common place. So, maybe don’t shoot for the four of them. Two or three are good enough.
After all good enough is good enough.