Grown-up love is something everyone wants, but not everyone knows how to reach it.
The thing about grown-up love is this—we are not going to be able to get it until we learn to be grown up ourselves!
When we aren’t being grown-up, we portion the biggest amount of blame onto the other person. We wrongly believe it must be everyone else’s fault the relationships we’ve been in haven’t worked out. What we fail to see is that just because we want grown-up love, it doesn’t mean that we ourselves are ready for it.
Sadly it doesn’t work that way.
Just wanting something isn’t enough.
We have to become the type of person we want to be to be able to attract the same qualities in another. Or at the very least to be able to keep it once we have attracted it.
A simple way to look at it is to truly and honestly ask ourselves if we believe we are acting like an adult or like a child in our relationships.
I’ve dated my fair share of men who were actually boys trapped emotionally in their younger years. Although the warning signs were there from the outset, I chose to be blind to them and continue dating them anyway.
Partly because I used to be a firm believer that love was capable of conquering all, and also, because I didn’t want to accept that the handsome, charming, funny guy at my side wasn’t capable of “adulting” in a relationship!
As I wasn’t willing to accept the truth, I have to admit, I wasn’t being adult either. I was just as emotionally stunted as they were.
My expectations for someone else were ridiculous when I wasn’t even living to those standards myself.
Although I wanted a grown-up relationship, I was heading down all the wrong routes to get to one.
So it made sense, I had to make changes so that I could find the type of relationship I had been hoping for. Then, I could banish old patterns so that they did not keep repeating and so that they stopped haunting me.
I realized that I only needed myself to be able to live fully.
I didn’t need to depend on anyone else for love, happiness or anything else. I had been involved in intense dynamics whereby we foolishly believed at the time that if our relationship ended, our whole worlds would crumble with it.
Now, I see clearly how juvenile that was and how it was keeping us in a parent-child dependency rather than allowing us to function as two grown adults.
I also used to think that love had to be a little messy to keep it exciting. I believed that without drama relationships were calm but boring, and that it was okay to be a little volatile at times. After all, the making up afterwards was the best part of all.
Although I hate admitting it, it’s all too often the truth—a mutual love of drama is what can hold childish relationships together. Although the relationship will be full of cracks and they are not likely to last, the rollercoaster ride leaves both parties dizzy and constantly reeling. This makes the experience one that can be very difficult to step away from.
A grown-up relationship does not need to hurry. Nor does it need to wait. It has a good balance between the two. There will be no looking to the past wishing the meeting had taken place years before and no looking to the future wondering where the destination is.
People change, relationships change. We can never expect the same person we start out with to be the same person at the end of the relationship. We are constantly learning and are subjected to a variety of stimuli on a daily basis that makes it entirely impossible to remain the same.
Day-to-day changes may not be very noticeable but when we look back over time the changes are far more obvious. We need to be open and accepting of each other’s unique paths and work hard to offer unconditional love.
This way we can still choose one another to love, but love each other without feeling the need to demand that things stay the same, or that one (or both) compromises themselves to keep the other happy. Change is scary, but we must let go of our need to remain the same just so we can cling to what feels safe or comfortable.
When we are capable of adjusting to change we become fluid. There is no easier way to sail through life than when we are in a vessel that is able to constantly adjust to its surroundings so that it can flow freely.
Trust in a grown-up relationship comes very naturally. One of the most significant things that highlights these types of relationships from others is that both people take accountability for who they are and are able to admit where they are going wrong.
These relationships are not perfect. They will still have their own problems and troubles to face, but the difference is that issues will be handled with maturity and also good communication. When someone is willing to put their hands up and accept their flaws half the battle has already been won.
Pride, ego and being afraid to show vulnerability are all things that can potentially cause significant harm to a relationship. There is nothing more endearing and appealing in a grown-up relationship than a partner who is being authentic and accepting who they are as a person, faults and all.
When someone is open to change and willing to hear how they may be going wrong with certain things, in a positive way, it is one way to strengthen and develop, not just the relationship, but our own selves too. We should never be afraid to bring things to the table to discuss, so long as the discussions are carried out with fairness, respect and care for the other person’s feelings.
In a grown-up relationship there will be no hidden agenda, game playing, control or manipulation. All the cards will be laid out so there is no need for guesswork or trying to read minds. Conversation flows freely whether it is about trivial subjects or deep and intense emotions—nothing is off limits.
A relationship that is an adult one totally understands that the two people involved in it will not offer all that they need. Just like with food, there are a variety of things we need to fully nourish our bodies—and it is the same with our minds. Although this does not mean that monogamy needs to be tested, it does mean that accepting that individual friendships, hobbies and interests are essential to keeping ourselves healthy and our hearts full.
When we compromise ourselves and sacrifice doing the things we love for the sake of our relationship we also turn off a light within ourselves. It is totally possible to live fully and love fully without one other person having the huge responsibility of being the person who meets all our needs. It is almost impossible for two people to be everything to one another whilst still providing everything for themselves.
The most amazing thing about a grown-up relationship is that there are no expectations placed on one another. Each day is there to be lived without having any pressure on it to be anything other than real.
Every moment within this type of relationship is a bonus—so whether it lasts a day or a lifetime, it will be a relationship that each party chooses on a conscious level daily.
A grown-up relationship is not one of convenience or one to reach personal gain. It will exist to create memories, to share the journey of life together, to adventure as a team and to explore one another’s bodies and minds.
There are no rules, regulations or conditions that need to be discussed. Each person within the relationship is virtuous, has good ethics and high standards for themselves. They are not quite a sinner and not quite a saint; they have found the balance of testing each extreme without causing damage to anyone or destruction to anything else.
We first need to do the work to become the person we would want to date. When we are living fully and we realize who we are and what it is we actually want from another person, we will not fail to recognize that type of person and relationship when it arrives.
Like attracts like, so whatever we put out there, we are highly likely to receive in return.
We don’t need to sacrifice ourselves or any part of ourselves to make another person happy—quite the opposite. When we are entirely happy with who we are we will far easier meet with someone who feels the same, then the biggest test and challenge is not to try to walk in the other person’s shadows or try to drown out their light.
Two people should be free to fully shine side-by-side, without being overshadowed. The radiant glow these two lights project is what is known as grown-up love.
Elephant Journal: The Mindful Life Podcast.
Or try this new kind of relationship that’s truly sustainable, passionate and fun:
Marry a Man who Touches You.
What to look for in a partner:
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Bryan Rosengrant / Flickr
Read 64 comments and reply