Love, Patience, and Modern Relationships

Updated: Nov 14

I was at a dinner hosted by my boss with some important and amazing people. I had the pleasure to ask them anything I wanted. Anything at all, and at the time I noticed they were all either married or engaged. I thought to myself, “Wow these people are winning at relationships.” So I asked them a question that had been bothering me a whole lot since most of my relationships, romantic or otherwise were…well not that great. “Do you have any advice on how to make meaningful relationships last?” I watched as they digested my question and really turned it over until one of them said to me, “You know one thing is that you both have to be very willing. To try every single day, even in marriage, you wake up daily and do your best for your partner or friend. And unless both of you are willing, it probably won’t work.” This seemed like simple enough advice and I didn’t think it was all that profound till I got home and sat up at night procrastinating and making myself sick with my most hated addiction; worry.

I replayed all the relationships I’d ever had since the beginning of my studies until now. I thought about how intentional I had been and how willing I or the other person had been and how that may have affected the relationship. I found something pretty interesting in this sort of unhealthy mental self mutilation. Willingness had not been as present or present at all in a lot of them. Either for one or both parties.

With my first boyfriend who I was with for less than a month, a friend I loved deeply but we’re currently strangers. Willingness to try, to work at it, to be wrong, to be honest had not been present. For the next few hours I thought about why. Why was it much easier to cut and run, why did I or the other party choose discarding over repairing? These are my 3:00 a.m. thoughts later turned into some research on this question:

1. In a world where a tiny black box tells you how to live. With everyone in that tiny black box seemingly winning at life, your aspiration to be like them may lead you to copy even unhealthy behaviour thinking it results in that life. Now you’re a young person who grew up around technology and social media. One of the key messages, at least in my echo chamber is that whatever you have, someone has it better. Applying this to having problems in your relationships, you might be quick to think that it’s not even worth fixing, that there’s always a better friend, a better lover, a better job or workplace and in fact there really might be. What this does though is reduce your tolerance and patience for other people. You may tend to consider that in fact all humans are flawed and simply having a sweaty ten minute uncomfortable conversation may bring more peace and love to everyone. The grass seems ever greener on the other side and on the other side of that, and on the other side of that.

2. Waiting vs patience and its role in blame-throwing and the victim mentality. Something again I discovered in some of my previous relationships, I was not a patient person. I am still not an entirely patient person. I’ll wait for something for five minutes and if it’s not done or ready I’ll walk right out. All the while complaining about poor service and disrespect for my time. I know now that this is what I sometimes did then. I notice a behaviour in a relationship that I did not like, mention it sometimes and then silently brood for maybe a week or a month, get tired and leave. Not that this is entirely a bad practice but it’s not entirely practical. Humans are complicated and even something that may seem really simple for you to do or stop doing may take someone a bit longer maybe due to a history of trauma or it taking longer to be a habit. Patience I have learned is more proactive than they let on, you give time, understanding, love, and affirmation to someone. With waiting, all that is required is time and whether you’re happy to wait or not is not a factor. Which may not lead to positive growth. And after you decide you’ve given enough time, you can walk out and still be the wronged party, the victim in this whole situation. Patience requires partnership. Waiting does not.

3. Love and willingness. I really thought about this as someone who had just lost a large chunk of their core support structure and relationships. All I needed to do was just be willing? What does it mean to be willing? What about the whole “if they wanted to, they would” saying from Instagram? Was I the only one who “wanted to” in my relationships? What’s the secret ingredient to good, willing relationships? Much later that same week as I’d been turning these questions around in my head it was a much loved friend’s birthday. I thought about her and how much she meant to me, how patient and caring she has been in my life and how even at my emotional worst and shortcomings, she didn’t see me for that. Whenever I’d run to her crying about what someone had done to me or my fears, she’d gently remind me, time and time again, that I was a good person. That I needed to slow down and remember I was worthy. It dawned on me. That was love and willingness. She didn’t just stay friends with me because of what I could do, there would be days where I couldn’t. She stayed, because of some magical ingredient that convinced her I was good just as I was, love. I thought about how in these other failed relationships I’d been too afraid to be myself. To be labelled “too much” and how that played into me not wanting to be a burden or inconvenience. This led to me never fully showing up as myself. Too afraid to not be the model of a good friend, girlfriend, workmate or even stranger that I smothered myself. Trying to fit in. I was willing, but for a reason other than love.

I made the commitment right then, to appreciate everyone I still had, and love them even more. To show up as even more myself and those that weren’t willing to accept? Well maybe it wasn’t love, patience or willingness to stay. To this point, I left social media almost entirely, spending more time completely bored out of mind trying to figure myself out. And even more time showing more patience, willingness and love. Calling old friends that I felt we could still repair, really putting the advice of those older than me to work. And learning that, there may always be what looks better, but if I spend my life chasing that, I probably won’t experience much of the world. This really good friend of mine would always say, “You’re never too much for the right people” and I know now that all the right people will be willing.

About the author:

I am a person of the world with a window that allows me many lives. Music and good food are why I'm still here. Apples are my arch enemy.


Instagram: @toki.suke


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