Why are you always charging toward a finish-line? Who put what in your head that made you obsess over labeling your relationships? And what is it about an undefined relationship that makes you so uncomfortable?
We have a problem with living in the present. We’re affected by this affliction in most areas of our lives. We focus on getting ahead and are never okay with where we are. We seek happiness as a destination, labels as goals, and set markers to mark accomplishments on our path to getting where we want to go.
Because we always want to go somewhere, don’t we? We always need something more. Whatever we have is not good enough. Accepting the present is a sign of weakness and defeat, and lack of motivation or ambition.
This makes sense when we’re talking about setting goals or improving our lives. Obviously we’re not happy with where we are, and therefore need to tap into that unhappiness in order to fuel our motivation to improve. We need to take charge, step outside of our comfort zones, and we need to make a beeline for what we want. So really, not settling for the present and what is, is essential when it comes to self-improvement.
But does the same hold true for our relationships?
Let me give you an example.
A friend of mine was in a really toxic relationship for about 3 years. About 6 months before they split, she started to spiral into a world of darkness, weakness, and self-doubt. She felt neglected, disrespected, and most importantly, unloved. By the time he left her, she could barely recognize herself in the mirror. Her heart shattered into a million pieces, she thought she would never love again.
About 3 months later, she met a guy at a friend’s birthday dinner. They hit it off and in a matter of 3 weeks, were hanging out pretty consistently. “He reminds me of all the things I love about life,” she would tell me. “He pushes me to grow and tackle my insecurities.”
She was happy. Everything he did to help her find herself, she reciprocated by showing him support in his new business venture. Their relationship was healthy, nurturing, and it was thriving. The only thing they lacked was a label.
He needed it, and had she not been so damaged from her previous relationship, she probably would have needed it too.
He started pushing to label their relationship, despite the fact they both knew they weren’t seeing other people. He began demanding reassurance and the more she resisted, the quicker he spiraled into his insecurities.
Unfortunately, their relationship ended a mere month after meeting. And yes, it was very unfortunate.
The magic of connection
The magic of connection is lost when we try to define it. The focus is no longer on the growth and vitality brought forth by this intertwining of two lives; it becomes about definition. It becomes about goals and finish lines and validation for the ego. And while we sit and map out the many markers along the way toward exclusivity, engagement, and marriage, we lose out on all the benefits of the relationship in its natural state.
The spark you experience when you meet someone you connect with is there for a reason. It’s there to nurture you and to shine light onto ways you could grow. It’s a reflection of where you are in your life and a glimpse into the way it could one day look. It’s a teacher, bringing you lessons you would never otherwise learn. It’s companionship – a hand to hold.
Every connection we experience, no matter its intensity or duration, contributes to our development and personal evolution in some way.
So why does an undefined relationship confuse and how can you experience its beauty?
What is it about just enjoying your connection with someone that isn’t enough? Are you worried that without definition, that person will go sleep around? Because people cheat and labels aren’t zippers. Do you want to make some sort of public declaration that you’ve claimed them and they now belong to you? Because no one wants to hear it, except you. Or if you need it for your own peace of mind, what validation do you get out of a more clear definition of your relationship? Because then, be honest, it’s all about you and not the relationship itself – isn’t it?
Get out of your head, grab a rag, and wipe these expectations off of the chalkboard. Get rid of your definition of success. Take a step away from the future and back into the present.
Learn to be in the moment again. You and that person, without anything but your actual connection defining your relationship. Trust in that magic and stop relying on words to define emotion. Feel. Learn. Grow. Be in the now.
Labels do not define; connection does.
I wrote about this at length in my post The Problem With Monogamy.