When writing about my ex-boyfriend last time, one other interesting thing got into my mind. Thinking about it and trying to put my thoughts into words I realized there was a difference in how people make their decisions in their relationships. Both of them might seem appealing in a way but what is the real difference between them?
Kevin would often seek my advice on things. He liked the challenge of facing a different point of view and he would also change his opinion if he thought mine was better. He was none of the despotic ruler some people can be in a relationship. And when making decisions he was like: If you persuade me you’re right then I’ll do what you say. I don’t necessarily possess the best solution. If I see that yours is better then I’ll adopt it.
It seems alright. In fact, I thought it was alright. I just felt there was something problematic about it.
In a relationship, most of the decisions of one party influence the other party. In a family with children it is probably more evident. If the husband receives an offer to go to work abroad then it is crucial to have a discussion in the family and decide together since it will probably influence every single aspect of life for all members of the family.
But if there are no children, the two people can easily get the impression that they are two independent individuals who kind of support each other on their individual paths and that they luckily agree on many things (that’s why they like each other) and they somehow manage to share their journeys for a little while.
I think there are two types of relationships:
- Those where the people are two separate individuals discussing things but being independent in their deisions
- Those where the people are more dependent on each other and not only discuss things but co-decide.
An important note: I’m sure both ways have their pros and cons. Just as I’m sure that both points of view are in a way quite reasonable. But just as no two human beings are identical, you can’t give an identical advice to everybody. What you need is balance. If you feel you might be too dependent on your partner and life’s kind of f*cked up then Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Travelled is a must-read for you as it sustains more of the two-individuals kind of relationships (it’s full of other great advices, too). Though, if you are already quite individualistic, and the relationship doesn’t work well either, it might be good to reconsider your way of co-living with your partner.
Now try to remember your early relationship(s). Has it ever happened to you that you had a boyfriend/girlfriend and some “external” influence broke it? Maybe you decided to study at a university which was too far away. Or your partner started a carreer which was too time-consuming and you ended up splitting up after a while? Or one of you decided to take up jogging instead of smoking marihuana every day… :o)
It can quite easily happen when you are in your teens. Why is it? It’s because you’re facing some determinative choices that deeply influence your life, and you instinctively feel (or your parents/friends tell you) that you have to decide for yourself, and if you let your naive feelings decide for you then you’ll be sorry afterwards.
I can’t prove it wrong and I’ll probably be no different as a mother. When you’re in your teens you’re basically looking for yourself and you shouldn’t get trapped where you are just because your partner is currently there. But what does a decision made in this way say to your partner? It says: Our relationship is not important enough to make me change my decision. Our relationship is not a serious thing.
If it happens in your teens and you’re the one who gets dumped because of such a decision it probably hurts but hopefully you’ll see that it wasn’t a serious thing for you either. (Maybe it was. But hopefully not.)
However, is it a good approach when you are in your 20’s or 30’s? Are you supposed to follow your own individual life style and make all the choices by yourself?
Of course, there might be a difference between couples who have kids already and those who don’t. But if your relationship is meant to be the base for your future family, isn’t it good to adopt some of the principles right away? Will your partner even want to set up a family with you if you remain an independent individual in all your decisions?
I feel this era is more inclined to the independent-individual kind of thing but remember that it is also inclined to the “if-it-doesn’t-work-let’s-get-a-divorce” thing.
I don’t want to say that a good partner is only the one who will always do what you want. There’s no completely right or completely wrong approach, and you probably need a little bit of each of them. I just think it’s good to see the difference.