Quarantine has put a strain on some relationships, while also inspiring other relationships to bloom despite the global circumstances that surround them. Regardless of your romantic positioning, there is still the question of how long-lasting relationships are achieved and maintained.
When I was roughly 14-years-old, I remember my Leo-Sun grandmother telling me with absolute confidence, “Don’t ever go to bed upset with your partner, life is too short to wake up the next day mad.”
Being a Scorpio Venus, my head immediately turned to the realization that tomorrow isn’t always promised. While I have gone to bed upset with partners before, the sentiment and the advice still stands — in fact, I am beginning to see the value of it as I learn how to navigate romantic relationships.
Bring out your inner child
Having a sense of humor that is compatible with your significant other can be transformational to your relationship. Psychology Today found that humor can positively influence your relationship, sex life, and conflict resolution abilities.
The ability to let your inner-child run free with another person requires a significant level of vulnerability and intimacy, it demands that partners create safe spaces that are judgment-free and open-minded. Going back to my grandmother’s point, I don’t think that anyone wants to go to bed “mad” or “upset” with another person—much less themselves.
Humor can positively influence your relationship, sex life, and conflict resolution abilities.
If there are frequent occurrences where you’re unable to hash through your issues with your partner in a healthy fashion, the question of “why aren’t we able to reach conflict resolution” and “how do we handle conflict in our relationship(s)” will consistently surface.
In the book “How to Love” by Thich Nhat Hanh, he states:
“To love is, first of all, to accept ourselves as we actually are. The first practice of love is to know oneself. The Pali word Maitrī means ‘loving-kindness.’ When we practice Maitrī Meditation, we see conditions that have caused us to be the way that we are; this makes it easy for us to accept ourselves, including our suffering and our happiness.”
Truthfully, it’s taken me years to get to a place where I feel comfortable loving myself out loud, in many relationships I’ve felt the need to shrink myself so as to “support” my partner(s). In many ways, I began to find that my desire to “support” or “nurture” my partner(s) came at the expense of my personal development and ability to enjoy the relationship.
“Kindness” is the act of understanding what we are actually and fairly capable of given the current circumstances, and “compassion” is having a deep understanding and empathy for what we can not control. It can be difficult to carry this mindset with us throughout the world, especially because the world doesn’t always understand how to extend the same kindness and compassion to others. However, this is when the concept of intimacy and vulnerability in a relationship can absolutely act as a protective factor in our lives.
Within my own relationships, romantic or platonic, I have found that the key to an ongoing relationship is to enter a partnership with someone who wants to stay in a relationship with you.
The relationship ended because it was no longer practical to be with the other person
That being said, I have also grown to learn that simply finding someone who wants to be with you isn’t enough—especially because people sometimes get bored or feel insecure. Thinking back, the majority of my relationships didn’t end because there weren’t any more “feelings” towards the other, but because it was no longer became practical to be with the person.
The reasons for separation ranged from financial factors, differences in lifestyle preferences, unresolved trauma, and many other relational incompatibilities. At this point, it’s become clear to me that simply knowing you want to be with someone isn’t enough anymore, there has to be something “unique” that bonds you with another person.
Do the “shadow work”
You won’t be much “good” in a relationship if you’re unable to come to terms with your shadow self, also referred to as the skeletons in your closet.
In Robert Augustus Masters’ book “Bringing Your Shadow Out of the Dark: Breaking Free from the Hidden Forces That Drive You,” there is a special acknowledgment given to the power of tapping into your ‘inner child” to enhance your relationships with others:
“The aspects of such conditioning that are unresolved or hidden are part of our shadow, so working in any depth with our inner child includes, to whatever degree, working with our shadow elements. And shadow work has to include working with our inner child; after all, childhood is when most of our conditioning was originally implanted. Furthermore, sometimes our inner child itself is kept in our shadow, however partially.”
Masters continues by saying “We need to open our heart to the wounded child within us that’s at the heart of most of our resistance.”
This is where a number of people begin to get lost in the process of sharing the duality of playfulness and intimacy within relationships; vulnerability is still an action that people struggle to give into within relationships.
Be willing to be vulnerable
There is still debate regarding the definition of “love,” however it is clear that romantic relationships are a type of close partnership, which means it helps when we start on our journey towards self-actualization so that it becomes second nature to recognize people who are holistically compatible with us.
People who believed they were worthy of connection experienced greater connectedness.
From there, our ability to hold ourselves in our entirety will ideally influence us to be selective over who we give ourselves to—including who we choose to let our inner-child run free with. According to Brene Brown Ph.D., a research professor from the University of Houston and an expert in the field of vulnerability:
The difference between those who have a strong sense of connection and belonging and those who don’t is that those with a strong sense of love and belonging believed they were worthy of it. People who believed they were worthy of connection experienced greater connectedness.
Do you think the formula of a long-lasting relationship is being able to find someone who you can let your inner-child out with? Or do you think that relationships need to abandon the notion of self-prioritization in exchange for more relationships based on duty and obligation?