Health and Wellness for the Half-Hearted
Keeping love alive in trying times
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 13:02
Valentine’s Day is here again to make the bitter singles denounce it and the usually annoying couples act even more obnoxious. If an alien viewed earth on Feb. 14 it would seem that love is all about consumerism, clichéd platitudes and anatomically incorrect hearts.
Hallmark love is not necessarily healthy love.
A healthy relationship starts with two independently healthy people. If you are not okay with yourself when you get into a relationship you may be using your partner as a means to your own end. Instead of caring truly for the well-being of your significant other, you may be using them as a gateway to your own happiness or stability. This is something I experienced in previous relationships where I was exclusively the doormat for his problems.
While we all lean on each other sometimes, when one person consistently doesn’t carry their own weight, the relationship might just topple over completely. Everyone goes through periods of ups and downs and if you cannot put aside your own needs to carry your partner sometimes, you should not be in a relationship at all.
Part of this is listening. Really listening. If you find yourself seeking out gaps in a conversation to shout out what you want to say, you’re doing it wrong. Ask real questions about what your partner is talking about. This is applicable across the board. Become a better listener and you will be an infinitely better friend and worker too. Of course no one is perfect. Do I still sometimes zone-out when my fiancé Brandon goes on tangents about videogames and his fanatic love of insects? Absolutely. However, the effort is good for the relationship.
Maintaining a healthy relationship is hard work. Real-life love is gross sometimes on life non-Valentine days. Sometimes he will put his socks on the floor directly adjacent to the laundry bin. Sometimes you will wake him by elbowing him violently in the ribs while you sleep. At some point you will inevitably fart in front of each other. You will argue.
Arguing sucks. It is confrontational and messy, but sometimes it is completely necessary. Being transparent about your problems instead of letting them fester is essential. If you harbor bad feelings, they grow into a disastrous Transformer of resentment and over-exaggeration. I feel more connected to Brandon after a fight because any weirdness that was stuck in my head is now out in the open, and eventually our conversation comes full circle and we are trying to make each other laugh again. For us, being transparent means being truly free. We are comfortable around each other because there is nothing we need to hide from each other. It is liberating.
The second most important advice I can give you is that if the person is really worth it, don’t let yourself become disenchanted when the initial magic fades. One way to persevere when your initial flame turns back into a spark is to incorporate habits for the two of you into your everyday routine. Brandon and I watch “Saturday Night Live” every week and loudly critique it before bedtime. On Fridays we both don’t have class so we cook elaborately huge afternoon breakfasts. These habits keep us stable and rooted together when our worlds are both in a constant state of fluctuations throughout the week.
The aforementioned advice may not work for you. If your relationship really isn’t working or makes you constantly upset or sad, it may be time to consider embracing the single life. Don’t force someone to fit a role in your life they truly can’t fill. Being independent is valid and just as rewarding to your personal growth.
For me, I grow together with my fiancé. Brandon is my partner in crime. I cannot wait continue to discover life together. While separately we are awesome, together we are even better. The healthiest relationship is the one that makes you feel comfortable and like the best version of yourself. Real love is far too complex to be explained in a Hallmark card or symbolized by a stuffed bear and chocolates.