All of us want to find that enduring and unending love of our life. Every relationship we enter into has the possibility of being that “one true love.” So how do we know the difference between one type of affection and the other?
Before we go very far in this explanation we need to look at some definitions and also some ground rules to remember.
Love: The state in which another’s happiness is integral to your own happiness. (Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein)
Lifebond (The Heralds of Valdemar series, Mercedes Lackey): A love that is so transcendent as to make any lesser emotion seem insignificant. The two people in this state effectively become one person on a spiritual level, incapable of disagreement and complementing each other’s strengths and compensating for the other’s weaknesses. Many call this “Soul mates”.
Lust: The state in which the physical act of having sex is the most important thing. Many teens go through this state and stay there into their adulthood.
The only ground rule necessary for a truthful examination of the romances you may be having is this: Honesty. You have to be honest with yourself about what you are feeling and needing /wanting. Without that honesty, you may as well skip to the next article because you will never be able to unravel your emotions enough to determine what kind of relationship you have.
With the aforesaid firmly in mind, let’s look at these three states and determine which most accurately describes your current relationship and how you may be able to improve it for you and your Significant Other or “SO”. Your SO is anyone who you are currently “dating, seeing, engaged to, married to, having sex with” or any other euphemism for a relationship.
- Are you hiding a portion of yourself and your feelings to make your SO happy?
- Do you feel as though you can’t talk about real issues?
- Are you more concerned with the physical than with the emotional?
- Is your SO reluctant to change an irritating habit?
- Is your satisfaction in the relationship more important than your SO’s?
- Do you expect your SO to take care of your wants and needs?
- Do you orgasm more often than your SO?
- Are your sexual activities more important than spending time together? (in other words, is your relationship based on making love?)
- Can you be more fully yourself with your SO?
- If you have a habit that you know irritates your SO, do you change it because you want to make them more comfortable?
- Is spending time with them more important than going out?
- Do you find yourself doing /getting things simply “because” for your SO?
- Can you talk out your problems in some sort of rational way, without taking things said personally?
- Can you discard all the posing and posturing that you do to impress the opposite sex when you are together?
- During sexual relations, is your SO’s climax more important than yours?
- Do you want to be a better person and achieve?
- Do you take turns being the leader and follower in the relationship?
- Do your moods and feelings affect your SO’s moods and feelings?
- Do you find yourself doing things to pull your SO out of a funk even when they have expressed no need to be pulled out of a funk?
- Do you find yourself dressing more and more like your SO in complimentary colors /textures?
- Do you find yourself inexplicably knowing that something is wrong, just to find out that at that exact moment something DID go wrong for your SO?
- Do you NEED this person more than you need your breath (almost a physical pain to be separated from them)?
- Do you NEED to make your SO happy, no matter that you are not particularly thrilled with what your SO wants?
- Does the world look different if you are with your SO?
The above is a SHORT guideline for looking objectively at your relationship. Answering “yes” to a majority of the questions in one section means that you have that “style” of relationship.
These qualifications could go on almost indefinitely, but with this list you should get the point. A Lust relationship is “Me” centered, a Love relationship is “Us” centered, and a Lifebond relationship is “You” centered.
Now, there is nothing wrong with any of these relationships, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is one type when it is truly the other.
People think that since lust relationship is so “me” centered and so selfish that it’s somehow “bad”. Well, this is one of the great myths of the 20th century and one of several myths that will be busted in this article.
A lust type relationship can be a good thing SO LONG AS BOTH PARTIES KNOW WHAT THEY ARE GETTING INTO AND WHAT THEY ARE GETTING OUT OF IT. This is a very important qualification as it could be the difference between a good relationship and a bad one.
Let me point out this for you…. Would you rather have a relationship that is casual and a Significant Other that thinks it’s okay to demand all your time and attention, despite what you want and feel? Or would you rather have a relationship where both partners understand that this is a temporary relationship to keep from getting too lonely while you both figure out what kinds of qualities you need in a permanent partner?
Now, this does not mean that these kinds of relationships are those that need to be perused simply for themselves. It can be a good relationship in an extreme manner, and I have known many people who had successful relationships of this kind. My wife and I call this kind of relationship the “fuck (or sex) buddies”. However, realistically speaking, this kind of relationship is a temporary measure because it’s somewhat unfulfilling.
However, a series of these relationships can and do give the average person a handle on what kinds of qualities they are looking for in a permanent mate. It can also show several other things, such as stereotypes are not general (ie not all blondes are dumb), it can show sexual orientation, it can gain the person in question experience in the bedroom and in pleasing a partner. It can even show the person in question that they don’t want a permanent relationship.
This is the phase that many teens go through, and that is usually continued in college as the person in question tries to find a partner that “fits” them. It’s also when many start looking critically at the opposite sex and determining what is wrong with them and having specific problems with potential mates.
However, if this cycle continues it can move into a Love relationship. This is truly a partnership in which both parts complement and support the whole. Both parts work toward the betterment of the group, rather than the betterment of the individual.
This type of relationship is what all good love stories should naturally evolve into, but few do. A good relationship like this is relatively rare. Usually it is because one or both partners in a lust relationship start lying to themselves and deceiving the other in an attempt to push their relationship to this level.
Let me warn you of a few things; attempting to force this kind of relationship will usually result in the destruction of an otherwise satisfactory and successful relationship. A Love relationship will usually not generate spontaneously off of a Lust relationship. It takes planning and cooperation of both people in that relationship in order for it to work. You may have to go through a LOT of looking and work in order to find this kind of relationship, and if you find one, count yourself lucky. For every Lust relationship currently in existence in the Western world, in my experience, only about 10% of them have the potential to turn into a Love relationship.
Which brings us to “Lifebonds”. Many call this a SOULMATE and this kind of relationship seems to be incredibly popular. It is the basis for stories like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Beauty and the Beast” and these stories gear us toward having this relationship. By the time we reach adulthood, it is what every young girl is supposed to want and what every boy is supposed to be able to give.
This is life, not a storybook. The reality is that these kinds of relationships are incredibly rare. To give you an idea of how rare, out of that 10% that could turn into a Love relationship, only about 1 out of every 800,000 Love relationships can possibly be a Lifebond. This is by no means as common as many think it is.
I hate to be cruel about this, but these are the facts of life. Chances are, your relationship is NOT a lifebond, nor is your SO your Soulmate. If you have a good love relationship, stick with that. Don’t try to force this kind of relationship either because if it’s not a Lifebond, there is nothing you can do to make it one. All you will succeed in doing is making yourself and your partner miserable and possibly driving them away.
There are a few who DO have this kind of relationship, in which the two become one, and it seems like there is no division between one and the other. There is an incredible sense of having “found” this hitherto un-missed, unknown part of yourself. It’s hard to have a relationship like this, especially if one of those in that relationship is quiet and submissive by nature. One person can be run over by the other very easily.
However, this does not mean that misunderstandings do not occur, it only means that you will suffer just as much as your love until the difference is resolved. There is no guarantee that this kind of relationship will last either. Both have to grow in the same direction or they may find themselves growing apart. That happens too. Richard Bach is one example of this. He found his soulmate, wrote an entire book about it called “The Bridge Across Forever”, and eventually he and his soulmate got divorced due to many problems and them both growing separately and in different directions.
The common key to all three of these kinds of relationships for them to be considered “good” or “successful” is communication. It does not matter what kind of relationship you have. As long as you are communicating with your SO, and they are communicating with you, much heartache and many of the headaches can be avoided. Along with that comes a necessity to tell the truth, no matter the cost. I don’t know how many relationships, in all other ways fine, have died because one of the partners was not telling the truth about their feelings or what they wanted. The other person took what they had said at face value, and that caused much harm and hurt.
Ladies, let me tell you something about men: we don’t take hints too well. You want that diamond tennis bracelet, tell us outright. “Honey, I would really like that for my birthday. Would you please get it for me?” works better than hinting about it and then being upset because we didn’t get that hint.
Guys, the one thing you need to understand about women is that they feel deeply. Understand that their world-view is made up of how everything feels, and you will have a better handle on the female of the species. It does not matter that logically doing action A would be better than action C. If the lady feels better about action C, you may as well give in to the inevitable.
However, with all this, do NOT lose your identity and subsume it into the wants /needs of your partner. This will do more damage ultimately to you than just about anything else. Keep a good sense of yourself, stay aware of your wants and needs and don’t be afraid to speak up for what you want from time to time.
The best relationship is based on mutual trust and cooperation. Being unwilling to cooperate and compromise and being unwilling to trust your partner and betraying their trust in you is the death of more relationships of any kind than just about anything else. Continually messing up and then apologizing for that mistake will soon mean nothing to your partner. There are only so many times you can say “sorry” before your partner stops believing you. Once violated, trust is really hard to get back.
I’m not meaning to sound preachy or condemnatory, but I have had all three kinds of relationships in my life. The first when I was in the Army, the second not too long after I got back home from the Army, and the last with my current wife of more than 10 years. Each of them were with different women and I tried really hard to be honest in each those relationships. I never tried to deceive them or intentionally hurt them. I repaid trust with trust, faith with faith and love with love. Each of these relationships ended on a positive note if they ended at all.
Understand something else; once you get married, this person you are with will not “magically” change into what you want them to be. They are a person, and they have been this person for a lot longer than they have known you. If this person cannot learn to pick up after himself /herself, then chances are that you will offer nothing new to induce them change. If you think that guilting them will make them have an epiphany and suddenly become cleaners, you are probably mistaken. Talking to them may be the beginning step to getting them to change a behavior pattern, but you may have to accept them as they are.
A statement like “Honey, I get really tired of picking up after you and I would appreciate it if you could put your own clothes away for me, so I’m not so tired.” could potentially do more than all the nagging in the world.
Have realistic goals and expectations. Remember that the person you are in this relationship with is a person, first and foremost. They will make mistakes, miss hints, get you a bowling ball when you wanted a nice dinner out, and you will be angry. There is nothing wrong with getting upset at your SO, so long as you take care of the problem before it gets too big. Tell them that whatever they said hurt you, and do it quickly so that it can be corrected before that hurt encysts and continues to cause pain, rupturing at the least thing.
Talk about what you want, what you need, and be willing to listen to what they want and need. Talk to them about goals and expectations, then work together to make those goals come true, or to compromise on them if your SO does not want the exact same thing you want. If you make agreements and deals, stick to them.
People say that Love Conquers All. While this is true, love by itself goes only so far toward fixing the ills of others. Understanding that they are people, just like you, with their own wants and needs, will make one of the basic problems with “love” easier to deal with.