Relationships—What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Forming relationships has complexities that we rarely stop to think about especially relationships of the romantic kind. We meet someone. We form our first impressions. It may or not be a mutual attraction. Whether it is or is not, the next step is to get better acquainted and we do that with with all our senses – seeing what we like is generally the first block of input. We hear and make judgments based on the voice – tone, quality, volume – is it pleasant or unpleasant? We touch, and yes, we even taste when those delicious kisses come into play. We notice their scent and again decide if it’s pleasing or displeasing. This overall impression can happen in a very short period of time and we get inner signals about whether we want to go forward.
Often, in a romantic relationship, passion prevails and, we think we know a person well, when actually we know very little. We see them at their best behavior and we put our best foot forward so they only see us at our best. It is said that “Love is blind” – we don’t see the faults, we overlook the little irritations, we dismiss any nagging thought that says “proceed with caution.” And some day when reality sets in, the snoring or teeth grinding, or nit picking becomes overwhelming and we want out.
The need to love and be loved is so powerful that sometimes our ability to see clearly is so clouded by need that we don’t gather all the facts and do a thorough job of assessment of the person that is the object of the attraction. We cling to each other because of a physical attraction and a stunning personality. But what else needs to come into play?
We are physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, communicating beings and we need to establish some norm of compatibility in all these areas if a relationship is to work. There are some questions you can ask, and if you answer them honestly within yourself, you will have the information you need about going forward or calling it off. Below are some questions that will get you started. These will lead you to more that need to be asked and answered:
- Do you have meaningful dialog about the major issues in your relationship?
- Do you both listen or does one of you dominate the conversation?
- Can you discuss sensitive, personal issues and feel safe and comfortable?
- Do you feel that you are heard and understood or does what you say fall on deaf ears?
- How much time do you spend in conversation? (Sitting in front of the TV together does not constitute dialog).
- Do you “hold back” asking questions because you fear the reaction?
- Do you have to tip-toe around a bad mood so you don’t set off a major emotional storm?
- Do you feel safe expressing your deepest feelings?
- Do you listen while he/she expresses his/her deepest feelings?
- Do you feel like you’re on an emotional roller-coaster in this relationship?
- Does this relationship bring you joy or confusion?
- How does a relationship with this person make you feel about yourself?
- Intellectually, are you on the same level?
- Does your educational background add to or detract from this relationship?
- What topics can you discuss that stimulate your minds and bring forth creative, new ideas?
- Can you discuss issues that you disagree on, expressing differing views and posing differing solutions, without antagonism?
- Do you have to agree with him/her to keep the peace?
- Do you feel that your thinking is becoming stagnant in this relationship?
- Is there mutual respect for your spiritual beliefs?
- Are you expected to change your beliefs for this relationship to continue?
- Are you able to share what you believe and feel comfortable?
- Do you feel comfortable practicing your beliefs in the presence of your partner?
- Do you share a mutual appreciation of each other’s physicality or do you try to remake each other?
- Do you feel comfortable expressing how you feel and what you need?
- Are your both comfortable with demonstrations of affection or is one of you demonstrative and the other reticent?
- Are you sexually compatible?
Other questions that need to be asked
- Can you be true to yourself in this relationship?
- Do you enhance each other’s personal growth?
- Does he/she have habits that are deal breakers down the road?
- How would you feel introducing him or her to your family?
- Is this someone you want to grow old with?
This is in no way an exhaustive list—it is simply a start at discovering in each other what you need to know.
We come to our relationships with past hurts, triumphs, challenges, failures – a long background of complex emotions, beliefs, desires, needs and preferences. Even we don’t understand some of these operating within ourselves and we can’t expect someone else to deal with things we can’t understand and express. Once you establish that you are compatible physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually and you can communicate openly and freely you have a great foundation. Then it is a matter of patience, acceptance, forgiveness, and perseverance coupled with deep love and respect to keep the relationship intact.
Maybe Tina Turner was right when she sang the question, “What’s love got to do with it?”
My answer? Everything!
By Irene Conlan