Why relationships fail

I just spent the weekend with someone that I have been friends with for nearly 30 years so I feel like I know a thing or two about how to make relationships last… but I don’t. I do however know a thing or two about how to make relationships fail. I’m been sitting on this knowledge for a while because I’ve been thinking, “Who the fuck am I to be giving relationship advice?”

I really thought it would be a great post. I even had a great title, “The Three C’s of Relationship Failure”. But then, today, I learned of another C and decided I might as well put this out there now before I get any smarter and it becomes too much to write about. Relationships are way too complicated to put in a blog post anyway. By the way, complicated is not one of the C’s that I had thought of. ┬áTo me that is not an issue, that should just be a given if you plan on getting into a relationship.

So here are my three C’s: Communication, Compatibility and Control.

I’m going to take on Compatibility first because it’s the easiest. Some people are just not meant to be together. You want different things, you believe different things, you want to do different things; maybe you want to be with different people. That’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that either of you are bad people. It just may mean that you don’t want to be with each other… at least not in that way. So don’t. If you do work in another way then do that. Not everybody can be everything to everybody but everyone has something to give.

I know that there are many relationships that survive between people who never talk but they are probable between people that never should have been together in the first place. Sorry, some relationships suck even if they stay together. Communication is key to any relationship and communication is not easy. Read my post Lost In Translation. I think that more relationships end because of problems with communication than anything else. I’m sure that there are other problems but the problems wouldn’t seem so big if we could just understand each other. People just want to be heard, to be seen, to matter and if there is bad communication, that is not happening.

The other one is Control and this one is big. We have control over ourselves but when we try to control others, problems are guaranteed to happen. Believe me, I get it. Shit is out of control and so the natural response is to try and control it. It just doesn’t actually make things better. Well, it may make things better for you, but this is a relationship which means it’s not all about you! You can’t MAKE a relationship work. You need to step back and LET a relationship work. I’m sorry if that’s a little Zen for you but it’s true. There are a lot of things that you can make work but a relationship is not one of them.

Okay, and then today I learned about another reason and it really makes sense to me. I call this one Competition. I know that historically relationships have been held between people of unequal status with defined roles. I think that is a totally fucked up concept but it doesn’t matter what I think; that shit just doesn’t fly these days. But competition can still occur in a relationship between equals especially if you are in the same field. In the example that I heard today they were both competing to be the best parent. Yeah, I can totally see that a being a problem. Seriously people, if you both are trying to do your best to care for a child that should be a good thing. Don’t let competition screw it up!

As I’ve been thinking about this subject I’ve come to the realization that there is another issue that is probably bigger than all the others combined. We all mess up in these areas. None of use are perfectly compatible with each other. We all struggle at communication and we all have control issues. It is in our nature to be competitive. If we want to make it work we need to learn to accept our faults and the faults of our partner. I’m not saying that every couple should just suck it up and deal but if you have found someone that you really love… then work on it.

If you have compatibility issues then work on them.

If you have communication issues them work on them.

If you have control issues then work on them.

If you have competition issues then work on them.

Love is worth it!

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Lost in translation

Since returning from Mexico, one thought has been weighing heavy on my mind. You see, I don’t speak spanish. Well, I can speak a little bit but I don’t understand much at all. Where I was, that wasn’t much of a problem. Most everyone I encountered spoke enough English that I was able to get what I needed. Furthermore, I was surrounded by tourists and expats, most of whom were native English speakers. Still, not being able to effectively communicate in the language of the country I was in left me feeling lost.

The thought that has been on my mind however is that this is how I feel most of the time. Even though I speak English fluently, as do most of the people I regularly engage with in conversation, I feel like we are speaking different languages. My words, my experiences, my perceptions, when communicated to another person take on different meanings depending on the other person’s understanding of the words or their own experiences and perceptions. I work really hard at effective communication but it still seems to me that I fail as often as I succeed. Well… it may be more accurate to say that we fail since communication is a two-way street.

I think we all want to be understood and I think we all are frustrated with how often that doesn’t happen. I think we settle for being heard. Too often, we don’t listen, we don’t open ourselves up for feedback and we don’t try to understand. We just put our words out there and expect that to be good enough. If we don’t get what we want we can blame the other person for not listening. If they interpret our words in a way that we don’t like, we feel judged or attacked. We react defensively rather than in a manner that might enhance actual communication.

I’m all too aware of this problem. When I’m sober I spend much of my time terrified of being misunderstood. For some reason, that really matters to me. I struggle with every word and often find it really difficult to say anything. This post seems to be taking me forever and it’s not because I don’t have the thoughts in my head. I’m just having a hard time finding the right words. Of course when I’m drunk it’s almost impossible to get me to shut up. Drunk communication has it’s own set of pitfalls however.

Sometimes I wish I could say whatever was on my mind no matter what. I wish I didn’t fear being misunderstood or judged. At the very least, I wish I didn’t care so much. But perhaps that’s not all a bad thing. I’m just trying to find the balance.

 

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