Don’t “have” a relationship

OK, so with that provocative title out the way, I have a rather useful thought that occurred to me recently I wanted to share. I’ve been doing well lately – very well in fact. I have been improving my work/life balance, I have been doing a lot of home cooking, I’ve been losing weight and thriving during a global pandemic. I even have lovely bird visitors to cheer me up.

Visit from a lovely bird friend.

I’m also getting a lot of attention from potential suitors, despite the lock down – or maybe because of it. So the natural next question for me is at what point do I entertain the idea I might have a relationship again.

My conclusion for now is “no”. Life’s pretty good, and for now I’m very content to live my life and do my own thing without being accountable to anyone else. I’ve been making home made red sauce, home made brownies, home made Kombutcha.

Kombutcha is not as gross as it looks, I promise.

But then a strange thing happened: someone talked to me about their partner and I instantly felt a twinge of jealousy, it went something like

  • that person has a relationship
  • relationships are nice
  • I should have nice things
  • I should have a relationship

And just as quickly I realised that’s completely the wrong way to think about it. You see, that’s the same thought process I have when I see someone who has a nice car

  • that person has a car
  • cars are nice
  • I should have nice things
  • I should have a car

But that thought process is silly. I don’t actually want a car, I don’t need a car either, they’re expensive and inconvenient to store, they cause pollution. Nah, I don’t want one. At least, not right now anyway.

And if I’m honest with myself that’s how I feel about relationships. I don’t want one right now anyway, but this all got me thinking.

A relationship isn’t like a car

Stephen’s thought of the day

Ok, ok, bear with me. What I mean to say is: you can’t possess a relationship. Or at least I don’t think it’s good to try “have” a relationship. I think that for most of my life I saw a relationship as something one could “have” like a car or a house or a TV. Something nice that most people have that I should probably have too because… well… well, why shouldn’t I have nice things? Things are nice. I’m nice!

But I’m coming around to the idea that this is the wrong way to think about relationships. It turns a relationship into a commodity. It makes hunting for a partner an exercise in trying to find the “best deal” or “the best you can afford”. It makes dating a marketplace and heaven knows we see enough of that stuff on all those dating websites. Tinder even originally created an algorithm that attempted to match you more with people at the same level of “hotness” as you have (I am not kidding, look it up).

But that’s not what a relationship is all about is it? A relationship is not something you have, it’s something you do. Who you do it with is up to you and is not really governed by market forces. It’s not a calculation in getting the best you can get or settling for what you think you deserve. It’s falling in love, which is a complex experience which is unique to each pair of people.

So, what I meant by my provocative title is merely this: don’t “have” a relationship, because a relationship is something you “do”.

I think this change of perspective is important. It’s certainly changed how I view potential partners. I no longer think “so and so would be an amazing catch” because… well, no, that’s not the point. The point is not to “have”, the point is to “do”.

So am I set on bachelorhood for the rest of my life? I don’t think so. Remember that bird who visits me? Well that’s not the whole story. You see, Mynah birds mate for life, so I am always visited by two.

Mynah birds mate for life, so I am happy to report I am always visited by two.

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