What’s the point of a relationship?

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Dear Megan,

So please answer this. We want to be in a relationship with someone we can depend on, but we aren’t supposed to depend on others emotionally.  So what’s the point of even being with anyone? Seems like a catch 22.

-Call Me Anything, But Don’t Call Me Needy

 


Dear “Needy” lol,

Hey, great question!  Thanks for writing! The answer is: sex.  Thanks, again!

Lol, just kidding…  Well, not really.  But I’m assuming you want a westernized, post-romantic era answer, so that, my friend, is what you will get ;)… (Oh, and since we’re dealing with romantic relationships here, I won’t go into those of the family/friend/co-worker/etc. variety, but I’m sure some of this stuff will still apply to them, too).

To begin with, let me just say that there was a time when I related to your confusion/frustration over relationships.  In “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” I even share the moment where I (metaphorically) shook my fist up at the sky and cursed the heavens for my seemingly unshakable desire for unconditional love with a rock-solid companion that seemed to prefer playing hide-and-seek with me.  So, yeah, you’ve definitely come to the right place.

And to answer your question, “What is the point of a relationship?” well, the answer is pretty much two-fold.  We enter relationships: (1) to enhance what we already have, and (2) to grow. 

Lemme explain. 

Dependability is a wonderful, feel-goody quality – (and since you’ve undoubtedly experienced what a lack of it in another feels like I’m pretty sure I don’t have to sell you on that trait) – hence why we desire it so much in a mate.  However, we were never meant to become dependent on others for anything we can give ourselves.

People are fickle.  And I say that not in a bitter “trust no one” tone, but in a “people got their own sh*t going on and therefore can’t be stable enough to meet your needs consistently” one.   Fortunately, we were all born with the ability to tap into whatever emotional reserves we need to buoy ourselves up at any given time, so we don’t need to depend on another for (emotional) oxygen when we have our own supply. (And while it might take some of us a while to find our own supply, trust me, it’s there.)

Does that make relationships useless?  Not really.

While I admit that relationships aren’t necessary for a happy and fulfilling life – (recall that I believe that nothing outside of yourself can make you happy) – nor do you need relationships for getting through tough times, observing and interacting with others in a harmonious and loving way just flat-out feels good.  And since loving and supporting yourself feels good, and others doing it to/with you feels good, you end up with an orgy of feel-goods!  Or, more academically speaking, we invite relationships into our life to compound good feelings. We just love the cherry-on-top fun, love, and support they can bring.

Less enthusiastically, we also get into relationships as a vehicle for growthWhen we open ourselves up emotionally to another, they’re then able to trigger things deep down inside of us that we subconsciously want to heal or change for further expansion/growth.  That’s why a “soulmate” can bring you both great joy, and great misery.  Facing stuff inside of you that you don’t like and want to change can range from feeling slightly uncomfortable to downright painful.  Nonetheless, that person’s ability to “get to you” is why you entered into a relationship with them.  Whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not.  (Sorry, lol.)

So, there you have it, “Needy.”  The point of a relationship is to magnify whatever you got goin’ on at the time.  Whether you want to compound the awesomeness you’re experiencing, the support you need, and/or just become aware of something undesirable inside of you, “there’s a significant other for that.”

Just make sure that your “want” for a relationship doesn’t turn into a “need” if you want to reap the full benefits of all the wonderful stuff relationships have to offer. Otherwise you’ll keep finding yourself stuck in Oz, when, like Dorothy, you have the power to get yourself home all along.  Best of luck!

-Megan 🙂

For my story check out “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” here

To submit your question to “Dear Megan” click here!

“Dear Megan” Home Page

Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to.  And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.

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How do I let my ex know that I’ve moved on when he is still in love?

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Dear Megan,

A couple weeks ago, I was in a long-term relationship with “Tim,” let’s call him. However, after I moved for college a few years back, the distance eventually caught up and my feelings for him slowly faded this year. However, since Tim suffers from severe depression and is very sensitive, I was nervous about breaking the “bad news.” I just couldn’t stand to see him go through another breakdown, (especially after the recent death of his father).

So, I made up the excuse of being very busy with my dentistry courses, and essentially just not having enough time for a relationship. Therefore, it was a very smooth breakup, as he didn’t think I loved him any less. I thought it was over, until he continued sending “I love you” and “Can’t wait until we’re over this break” messages. He thinks we’ll be back together once classes finish up. He’s also been talking about visiting me this summer, so I don’t have a lot of time.

This is giving me so much anxiety because I can’t just say “Sorry, I don’t love you anymore,” you know? But I also can’t keep going on like this, it isn’t fair to either. I haven’t been saying “I love you” back, etc., or regularly responding, but he doesn’t understand. However, Tim did mention that if I happened to meet someone else, to let him know, and recently I did become good friends with a colleague and have a little crush/am interested. I think it’d be strange to mention though, since Tim’s messages are so lovey dovey…

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

Update: Right after I sent that, Tim messaged me about how he has taken a few weeks off of work in the summertime to come visit. Now I feel even more terrible. I definitely won’t do this again. Do you have any suggestions or advice about what to say to him now that he has already taken time off to come see me?

-Mrs. Bad News Bearer

 


Dear “Mrs. Bad News Bearer,”

Oh man…  Brutal…   I know how you feel, girl.  It absolutely, 100%, sucks when you have to tell someone who’s convinced that you’re their “One,” and who’s been nothing but good to you, that you’d kinda, sorta, rather eat a dirt sandwich than continue your relationship with them.  Sigh…  Nonetheless, it’s a dirty job and somebody’s got to do it.  So, unless your mom, his best friend, or Simon Cowell owes you a favor, it looks like that person will have to be you.  (Just kidding, it was always you, >serious face<.)

Alright, to begin with, the old saying, “honesty is the best policy” definitely applies to letting someone know you’re ready to move on from your relationship.  However, how specific you need to be depends on how much time you two have spent together.

If it’s a fairly new relationship I’ve always found it best to keep things general, (unless you want a debate, or to inflict unnecessary pain on the person, of course).  Things like “I’ve realized I’m not in the right mental space for a relationship right now,” “I’ve decided to focus my time and energy on someone I feel more of a connection with,” or “I don’t feel enough chemistry to continue seeing each other,” will suffice.  I would then follow that first explanatory sentence with an expression of gratitude for the time they spent getting to know me, and let them know that I appreciated our time together.

On the other hand, if it was a long-term relationship, and you’re past the “getting to know each other” phase, in my opinion, the person is entitled to a little more of an explanation as to “what went wrong.”  If only to assure them that you had good intentions and weren’t just stringing them along for sport, (which could land you as the victim on a male-version of the show “Snapped,” by the way.)

Consequently, in a relationship like yours, where you two have been together for years, you’ll want to get specific, yet concise, during your “we need to talk” talk.  In short sentences, (in an effort to avoid drama), let him know: “Sorry I haven’t been upfront with you.  I care about you and wanted to spare your feelings.  However, I’ve realized it’s more important for me to be honest with you…  So, first, I want to say that I appreciate you taking time off work and trying to bridge the distance gap to maintain our relationship.  However, after I moved and got settled into my new career path I realized that I’m also wanting to meet new people and explore new romantic connections…  Thank you for all the wonderful experiences we’ve shared together.  I’ll always treasure them.”

If you’re open to being friends, let him know that someday, perhaps after a year or two when you both have rebounded emotionally, you can reconnect and have a friendship together, but avoid the temptation to dive into one right away.  Fresh wounds need time to heal, and in the case of relationships, that includes space.

Now, after you’ve said your piece, be prepared for any and all reactions.  Everyone handles “rejection” differently; and in my experience, about 50% of wolves respond kindly, and the other 50%, sourly.  No one will feel good at this moment, (as it’s a sucky conversation to have), but it helps things if you stay general when answering any of his questions.  And unless you want a debate or to stay together, never give in to any “Please let me know what I did wrong” requests.  Even if he asks them under the guise of self-improvement.  Trust me, it’s an argument trap.  Focus on the fact that your decision to move on is based on your needs and desires.  His perfect match is out there, same as yours.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that everyone is allowed to change his or her mind about who they want to be with, at any time, no matter how painful that decision may be to another.  And being honest and kind with each other during that process is the best we can all hope for.  So, keep “keepin’ it real,” and in time both of your hearts will heal.  (Yeah, that was meant to rhyme.)  Best of luck!

-Megan 🙂

For my story check out “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” here

To submit your question to “Dear Megan” click here!

“Dear Megan” Home Page

Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to.  And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.