The thing about relationships is, everybody wants to be in one. But not everyone wants to fight for it when things go south.
Like in the popular sitcom Friends, I have a core group of friends and we hang out together all the time. We have a Joey, who is popular with the ladies, but hardly ever remains with anyone for longer than six months. We have a Ross, who has been in an on-and-off relationship with the same girl for a nearly a decade now. And then we have a Chandler, the only person who has managed to stay in a loving relationship for many years.
My Joey-like friend has dated more girls than I can count but never had a serious relationship with anyone. For him, the early flame of a relationship is very important, something that tends to go out after a few months. He once told me he makes excuses to end conversations with all these girls once the passion fizzles out. After that, every day feels like the previous day, as if he is stuck in a time loop. While my Joey-friend may not be an inspiration when it comes to relationships, he sure has a lesson to teach on what not to do.
My Ross-like friend has managed to sustain his now seven-year-long relationship, even though he does struggle with the on-again-off-again saga. Every time he feels the need to let go, he manages to hold his horses and find a way to reignite the spark. He takes his girlfriend to a romantic destination—somewhere new and exciting. And I admit, it does seem to add a fresh chapter to their love story, something they talk about for months to the rest of us until it is time to pack their bags again.
Finding the one might seem like a far-fetched dream, and when we do manage to achieve it, nothing seems more beautiful. The real victory, however, doesn’t lie in landing a soulmate, but in sustaining a long-term relationship where finding the novelty and spark is an everyday challenge.
On the other hand, my other friend who is like Chandler maintains that novelty is not a scale to measure the life expectancy of a relationship. In fact, he believes that real relationships begin when the novelty is gone. He once told us that a relationship is like a two-way street, where everything you give and take needs to be in equal proportions, whether it is emotions, support, trust, loyalty, or commitment.
I see what he means; in the initial months of a relationship, the passion and commitment are quite involuntarily. But with time, the relationship requires more tending to from both partners; there needs to be more patience, communication and humour. I suppose, after observing his relationship with his wife, I can go out on a limb and say couples who are patient with each other, who often voice out their concerns, who can laugh together no matter the situation, are destined to outlive novelty. My Chandler-like friend is no Joey who gets all the ladies, but he has found the right one.
Finding the one might seem like a far-fetched dream, and when we do manage to achieve it, nothing seems more beautiful. The real victory, however, doesn’t lie in landing a soulmate, but in sustaining a long-term relationship where finding the novelty and spark is an everyday challenge. Once you know how to move past that, nothing can separate you from the one. I know it is easier said than done, but having witnessed my Chandler-friend’s relationship, I have come to believe it is possible.