“Relationships.” Wow, if there’s one word, one topic that’s on a lot of people’s minds these days, this would be it. As a writer and mentor, owner of a Facebook page called Go for the Gusto, and owner of a website that focuses on helping others, it never ceases to amaze me how hot this topic is. Over the past 2 ½ years since I created these two means of communication in the social media world, countless private consultations via phone and email in my role as a mentor/life coach, and many times just as a friend and fellow human being, it leaves little doubt this topic will continue to be on the front burner.
This is particularly so for those of us over the age of 35, and especially over the age of 45. That’s the primary audience for this article, though it can certainly apply to all age groups and genders. *Please note, the following observations are my thoughts only, based on my experience, though I’ve researched and studied numerous articles on this subject. I’m not a therapist, counselor, man of the cloth, or any of those other professions one would associate with someone who is educated and “trained” in such matters. I’m just like you. I learned it on the field of life.
One of the biggest obstacles I’ve seen to the success of any healthy relationship is in the area of “expectations.” In this “instant gratification” world in which we live, liberal divorce laws, tons of social outlets, including Facebook, online dating, etc., it’s far easier to jump from one relationship to another than any time in history. We’re mobile. We have easy access to the internet. We don’t find what we want and NOW, we move on. Fast. This concept applies even to those who’ve been in a relationship/marriage for a long time.
Love is fleeting and rare. Trust is elusive. People have been hurt so many times, it makes it difficult to jump in the river. But that’s how love exists. It flows like a river in our heart. It comes and goes. We can’t stop it, ignore it, or block it off. Going into a relationship involves a high degree of exposing our soul to another, what makes us “tick”, as it were. Being vulnerable in this way can be frightening, but it’s absolutely critical to do so. Most of all, it’s important to remember that relationships take work, particularly between a man and a woman. We think differently. We come from totally opposite spectrums of our minds. Finding that “happy medium” in between takes time, patience, and two people who truly want to be together.
Here’s a bit of advice then, especially for the older audience, age 40 and up for instance. At this stage of life, you should already know what qualities you want in a relationship. Don’t compromise them simply to satisfy your immediate needs, either emotionally or physically. If it’s not “there”, don’t push it. God has a plan for you. Now I know bringing his name into this may not be agreeable to some readers. Again, that’s just my belief.
So let’s put it this way. Whether you believe in that sort of thing or not, love, like life, isn’t rocket science. We complicate things too much, again a by-product of an “instant gratification” world. When you’re coming from a “place” that is truly one of complete honesty, both with yourself and others, respect, compassion, and a genuine care for another person’s soul, giving your love freely, unconditionally, expecting nothing in return, then you’re off to a very good start.
Which brings up a second observation. In addition to the pitfalls of “expectations”, we’re much better off practicing “acceptance” in every area of our life, including love. Broad subject, I know. Here’s an example. Let’s say you meet someone, you fall in love, and you’re riding that “pink cloud.” Chances are good very soon you’ll discover facets of the relationship just aren’t falling into place as easily. Personal characteristics obscured by that pink cloud begin to appear. Suddenly, anxiety sets in. So you start subtly trying to mold your partner into the image you’ve created in your mind. Now you’re on dangerous ground. Maybe both of you are trying to make changes in each other. It won’t work. You’re unique, so are they. So again, if you’ve gone in to the relationship coming from the “place” described above, especially honesty, and the relationship was built on those foundations, not what you could “get” out of it, but what you could “give” to it, then acceptance of fault lines that have appeared becomes much easier. Why? Because you’ve chosen to love and accept yourself first, as you are, right now, regardless of the clothes you wear, the color of your hair, how much glitter you have in your jewelry box, the kind of car you drive, or how much money you have in the bank.
Because in the end, you can’t take any of that with you. The only thing that survives eternally is love in it’s purest form. Unconditional, freely given, no expectations, and acceptance that not everyone is perfect. Good luck!