February 4, 2019

This is what Enduring, Long-Haul Love Looks Like.

The last year and a half, for me, has been, umm…different.

In one respect, I have had the unparalleled good fortune of watching myself grow into the person I feel I have always been meant to be, manifesting the wildest dreams from my childhood.

I pounded that pavement in search of an agent and a book deal, and I became so single-minded in my purpose that I made it happen.

In some ways, it felt as if I had some agreement with the universe where she would give me this reality in exchange for the complete and total abandonment of anything and everything relating to romance with the opposite sex.

Like most humans, as thrilled as I am with my newfound career, I wonder how things might have gone for me if getting into another relationship would’ve been my sole cause. Of course, I don’t regret my chosen path. I simply wonder sometimes. This brought me to a conversation with one of my best friends, Susan.

There comes a time when our ex-lovers make it apparent that should something good or bad or annoying or funny happen to us, they’d appreciate it if we’d find someone else to text about it. Susan became this person for me over the past year. She’s truly wonderful—four foot nine, shiny red hair and blue eyes, and a PhD in Psychology—one could have a worse companion when they find themselves suddenly on their own.

She’s also in a solid marriage that has all the benefits of long-term stability. Given this and her educational background, I began to grill her on when and how she knew her partner was in for the long haul.

The indicators were so universal, I felt like it might be helpful to others to share the fruit of this conversation:

1. Trust
“Not just any kind of trust, either. I remember being out at a restaurant when our relationship was just starting to bloom. Other people were walking in and out of the front door, and he didn’t turn his head once. Not really in a spooky way, but in a way that told me that he was with exactly who he wanted to be with. No one else held the slightest interest for him. This never changed over the years. I have never once felt like he might cheat on me, because he always makes me feel like I am the only person for him.”

2. A Clean Slate
“Every single day he starts fresh. He has never once carried a grudge from the day before. I can’t even say the same for myself, but I have to admit, the fact that there’s one of us in the relationship who can do this makes the relationship work. As I began to realize this about him, it dawned on me that he was probably a keeper.”

3. Equity
“My mother once told me that her relationship with my father lasted so long because each one of them did more than 50 percent of the work and neither one of them kept score. I always remembered that, and it hit me hardest when I realized that we had the same thing. It’s invaluable when you are raising children.”

4. Silence
“I have found that if you are with the right person, you can be in the same room with them without either of you feeling compelled to talk, and there is absolutely nothing awkward about it. In the past, I have dated many men where this was just never the case. It was as if they were afraid of the negative space. I’ll never forget the time when I realized we were occupying the same room—no television, no stereo—and it felt so comfortable. I believe, at that point, I felt as though I may have found the right person to start a family with.”

5. The Art Of Compromise
“I’ll admit there are things about him that drive me crazy. Initially, the hope was that I’d be able to change him or, at the very least, get him to notice what can be so counterproductive about some of his habits. This was just not to be. I have stormed out of that house in a state of complete exasperation so many times and, once I have gotten a few miles down the road, I realize that neither of us are going anywhere. No, things between us are not perfect, but I think that is to be expected when two human beings are trying to occupy the same space. A good relationship is based on the realization that, even given that fact, the two of you can still look at each other each morning and know you’re both in it for the long haul.”

This was the conversation in a nutshell. It certainly gave me, what I believe, was an accurate yardstick for what a lasting relationship might look like. I mean, as she had mentioned, we are all human, and, because of this, there are going to be contrasts and differences in our relationships. Nonetheless, I found a lot of these points to be quite helpful.

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