Are We Bad at Understanding Relationships?

How often have we found ourselves talking about our friend’s girlfriend, boyfriend, latest breakup, or makeup? When there is so much turbulence in someone else’s relationship it seems like only we, the outsider and the friend, have the best understanding of what should be done, if only we were in their shoes.

I definitely fall into this category, I think we all do in some way. I think a portion of what drives this behaviour is the culture of celebrity around us. Every grocery store lineup smears us with news of a (probably fake) cheating scandal or drug overdose. When we see actors and musicians on television, the stage, or in our Instagram feeds, it feels like we have a direct line into their lives. When we can see the pores on someone’s face, it creates the illusion that we know these people when they don’t know we exist. This creates a massive imbalance in our perceived relationship.

Think of Miley Cyrus & Justin Beiber (for a microsecond — we don’t really need more). Those names are so loaded that you already have a reaction, opinion, an extreme like or dislike for these humans with whom you’ve never interacted.

But when you get a phone call from your girlfriend about an argument with her partner or get a play by play of a text message break up, it feels like we have that direct line into their situation. After all, we know the source. When you have close friends who confide in you, it’s an invitation to have a say or present your perspective. To pipe in when they spit out, “I don’t know what to do.”

The truth is that we have no idea what a relationship outside of our own is like. Nada. We’ve made other relationships the celebrities.

This conversation came up today with a friend when we were talking about close friendships: the people who really know us. They’ve seen us grow — so they know the parts of us that have evolved and what’s stayed the same. We know them in a way that is sometimes closer than the intimate romantic relationships they’ve had. But we do not know the couple – that’s a different matter entirely.

So where does this leave us, the relationship gurus?

Well, we make excellent mirrors.

Empathy is the most powerful tool we have when it comes to relationships, friendship or otherwise. The ability to feel what someone is feeling, and beyond that, being able to communicate back in a loving and understanding way. Not always easy, especially when the experience is foreign.

But when we are mirrors, a reflection of the other self, it is easier for our loved ones to see what they look like. We can’t see ourselves from the inside out – but when our closest friends see us so clearly, they know the way to communicate back. When it comes to offering wisdom and guidance to someone we love, I think the best thing we can do is not. Use the gift you already have, of knowing that person outside-in, to share with them what you see and what you’re hearing.

And while we don’t always want to look at what they see, our own perspective is usually the one we need to see the most.

If you read this far, I’m so grateful!  It would mean a lot if you could “like” this post or share with your community. And there will be more, so keep coming back for a visit!

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The Worst Answer to Any Problem


“Give it time.”

When you’re hurting, isn’t that the last thing you want to hear?
That advice of “giving it time” has reared it all knowing head a few times in the last week. And to be real, it’s been me passing on the cliche to close friends.

Here’s the thing time. Don’t you always get your way? You are the thing that exists always. You’re the worst friend when I’m feeling blarg. But the best friend when I know you’re the thing my friends need.

Two nights ago, Matt (la boyfriend) and I had our first fight of the relationship. Eight months in, fuelled by whiskey and goblets of beer, we disagreed and put up walls around each other as we called it a night far too late on Saturday evening.

I decided early on before this blog that I wouldn’t divulge any details about the most vulnerable parts of our relationship. Those are still sacred and ours, and while I may change my mind later as I learn how to publicly write about us, I can say it was the DUMBEST fight we could’ve had. We both knew it. But it wasn’t the content of the fight, but context. What made it hard was learning that we have the capacity to fight. A door we hadn’t walked through until this past weekend.

Our relationship smugness, the one every new couple gets when they are fast in love, was caught on the other side of that door, changing, half-naked, trying to hop into a pair of skinny jeans (because skinny jeans are notoriously the most difficult piece of clothing to get into). Embarrassing and humiliating.

My (happily married) parents didn’t have their first fight until two years into their relationship. And it was devastating. Not because they finally uncovered some incompatibility, because that’s sure to find it’s foothold. I think it hurt them, like it hurt us, because they realized that love does not conquer all, but can actually fight back.

We both woke up the next day woozy, heavy, and off. It surprised us both how easily it was to fold back into us though. Making fun of TV shows, cooking dinner together. But something still felt off. We had a cup of coffee at the shop across the street, he sketched in his notebook, and I started to write this blog post when I looked up and said “what will make this feel normal again?”

“Time.”

Well, shit.

So time will pass anyways. It doesn’t actually care about we’re doing on this side of it. Like money. Or the washing machine when you’re in the shower: angry hot, then the cold shoulder.

I think the most ironic part of all of this is that I’m feeling that sense of closure, of normalcy lighting back up, two days after our first-ever couple fight. So in this case, I think the best advice is, DON’T DRINK SO MANY MANHATTANS.

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