Even to the casual reader of this blog, it’s plainly apparent that relationships of various kinds are a topic that I spend a not-inconsiderable time thinking about.
In my more cynical moments, part of me wonders if men and women are really meant to last in any meaningful relationship. But then I look at a few examples, and realise there is hope on the horizon…
This year has seen a number of relationships in my world crumble and fall. January especially left no fewer than 6 long term relationships as smoking ruins. In a couple of cases, it has been an amicable split, each party moving on… in others, anything but amicable. In a few, the anger and hurt is palpable to the point of overwhelming for both the person and anyone nearby.
In some cases, there is the unfortunate complication of kids being involved. I’m not saying that children are unfortunate… merely that they have to be at ground zero as parents try to sort out, and take responsibility for, the choices in their lives and relationships.
Now, when I started writing this, I had every intent for it to be another witty, cynical diatribe about how women do this, and men do that, and blah blah blah. I even came up with a set of rules explaining why men, in my opinion, may never be on an even playing field with women in relationships.
The rules are simple:
1. The rules are set by women.
2. Men are not permitted to know the rules.
3. Penalties for breaking the rules are swift and absolute and are never subject to appeal.
4. Should a man, any man, deduce, discover or determine ANY of the rules, the rules immediately change, and all existing penalties to prior rules still apply.
Now, for me, these rules certainly explain the many and varied frustrations and failures that I’ve experienced in relationships over the years. But of course, like many attempts by mankind to understand the world through observation, the rules only really fit what we can see… and must be revised when they no longer fit.
Which brings me to the source of hope I mentioned earlier. Those women, and those couples, as the song lyrics say, to whom the rules do not apply.
I’ve occasionally wondered if a single life is better, after all, there’s no pressure to stay home, no demands on my time, no one to answer to if I’m late, choose to go out, don’t do the laundry, yada yada yada.
And there are friends of mine who have embraced this lifestyle, living their lives with total abandon.
Yet there are those moments… a smile, a soft caress, a hug, a kiss… shared rapture ending in the waking up in one another’s arms… lives of common values, shared in the pursuit of common goals.
And it’s recently occurred to me what it is that separates those in the single life from those sharing their life with another.
Fear of being alone. Fear of losing independence. Fear of being hurt.
And therein lies he secret of success to those relationships that succeed where others fail.
The willingness to let go of one’s fear and open oneself up to the possibility of being hurt… to leave one’s self vulnerable to another.
Which, of course, is the source of hurt for so many failed relationships, and the reason why so many of us close ourselves off from future happiness. The pain is simply too much for many to risk being hurt again. The wounds of the past range from fresh, open and hypersensitive, to toughened scar tissue that feels nothing.
It is the source of our greatest joys, and our greatest tragedies.
I’ve had to sit by and watch good people undergo great heartache and harden themselves in some twisted form of emotional self defence… beautiful people, twisted into distorted versions of themselves by the anger and hurt they feel. I see it, I think, because I was once one of them… ‘was’, since having seen both sides of this coin, I’m determined not to let the anger of the past destroy the happiness of the future.