Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Key to Successful Relationships

What are the People in Your Life Telling You?
Think about the people in your life. Why are those particular people in your life and not other people? Why are people who were once in your life now gone? Conversely, why are people who were not part of your life in the past part of your life now? Is it all mere happenstance, or are the people in your life telling you something?

Geographical Overlap
It must first be noted that a lot of people in our lives are there mostly due to what could be described as geographical overlap. There are certain friends, family, and acquaintances we see all the time, not because they are our favorite people in the world, but instead simply because they are conveniently located. Just think, how many of the people who are in your life today due to geographical overlap would you go visit if they moved far away from you? You probably would not visit many, if any. And not only would you probably not visit many if any, you probably wouldn’t even make the effort to stay in steady contact through phone or email.

Shared Objectives
All relationships revolve around shared objectives. And not all shared objectives are very profound or significant. Two people may get together frequently simply because they live close to each other and share the objective of having company. Families may often get together simply because they share the objective of the importance of family gathering. At places like work, people get together due to the shared objective of operating a business and earning money. Those kinds of objectives bring people together but not necessarily closely together.

In general, the people we are most committed and close to are the people with whom we share an important objective. And a shared important objective breaks barriers. Which means that there is more incentive to transcend barriers like geography when a relationship is built, not of mere convenience, but instead of a shared important objective.

Multiplication: The Lesbian Sister of Biology
In most people’s lives, the closest relationships revolve around the biologically important objective of having and raising children. Parents share the objective of successfully raising children and the children share the objective with the parents of being successfully raised. So, parent parent and parent child relationships are often the closest relationships in people’s lives. And that is mostly just an artifact of biology.

However, biology is often not enough of an objective to keep people together longer term. There is a natural cycle of about two-years where romantic passion blossoms and then fades. Evolutionary biologists attribute this cycle to the amount of time needed to bond, successfully mate, and get a child born and grown enough that it is past its peak vulnerability. So, a relationship built on mere biology is inherently problematic and requires more important objectives than just procreation if it is to last longer term. The simplest shared biological objective for longer-term relationships is fully raising a child into adulthood and making more children, but those things still have limits.

We tend to attract people into our lives who are like us. And as we grow, our relationships change. For relationships to last, people have to share objectives and grow (or stagnate) together or they’ll grow apart. When I look at how all the people in my life have changed over the years, I see how I’ve grown, grown apart, and in rarer cases grown together. When I was a baby, the most important people were obviously my parents. And to this day I haven’t grown apart from my parents–I have instead for the most part grown with them and they have grown with me. But not all my relationships have grown—most have grown apart. Back when I was a kid and my primary objectives were to ride bikes, dig holes, swim, build forts in the woods, drive remote control cars, play video games, watch Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and so on, I had a certain group of friends with whom I shared those objectives. When my objectives turned to things like basketball, a new set of friends arose. When my objectives turned to playing music, another set of friends arose. Now my major objectives revolve around things like personal development and spirituality and new people are emerging with whom to grow and share those objectives. There is a danger in dynamism in that if you grow you’ll probably out grow too. So, if you want to grow and want close lasting relationships, you’ll need to find people to share the objective of growing with you.

Victims and Victimizers
It must be realized that not all shared objectives are very sane and admirable. If you look closely, you’ll find as a shared objective in many (most) relationships, a roller coaster of victimhood and victimization–where two people constantly project guilt on each other. In fact, if you get honest, you’ll notice that this shared objective is probably the most prevalent objective in all human relationships. These kinds of relationships are built merely to mend and break. They are a means of togetherness to emphasize separation. These relationships are sick, but there is an important healing lesson for people willing to deal with them and admit their true nature.

The Key to a Successful Relationship: Forgiveness
Regardless of the closeness, longevity, ease, or difficulty of a particular relationship, its success is determined by one major factor. And that factor is, do (did) you use the relationship to forgive? Regardless of the form of the relationship, if you use it to forgive, it is successful. And when I say forgive, I don’t mean the kind of phony forgiveness that says, you were wrong and guilty but I’m such a nice person that I’ll let you off the hook. Instead, I mean true forgiveness, which is the recognition that there is no one out there but your own thoughts and that to condemn another is to condemn yourself. Any sin you see in another person is something you made up yourself and judged as a means for separation instead of wholeness. Our relationships are an opportunity to heal ourselves of the idea that we are separate from others. By forgiving, we free ourselves from the roller coaster ride of victims and victimizers inherent to so many relationships, whereby we reinforce in ourselves the idea of separation instead of healing and wholeness.

People will come and go–some will grow, some will stagnate. The form is not what is important. So, you don’t need to stay in the company of jerks. But, you do need to forgive them. For successful relationships, your job is simply to forgive. Forgiveness is a mind thing.

The best design for a lasting and profound relationship is one built around the mutual objective of uncompromising forgiveness. But you must commit to forgiveness yourself before expecting anyone else to commit to forgiveness with you. And you commit to forgiveness by trusting in that often ignored part of yourself who is committed to wholeness. Hint: not your ego.

Think of people in your life. What objectives do you share with those people? Are those objectives mechanical, admirable, sick? What shared objective might you want to start to implement with some people you know?