Happiness

The Secret to a Happy Long Term Relationship

“What do you and your husband bond over?” I get asked often. The answer is none of my popular and deep interests.

 

Most of the couples I know bond over movies, sports, books, pets, etc. I could have always found a guy with whom I could bond over photography, writing, psychology, spirituality, etc. But I would not have been so happy as I am in my relationship currently.  

 

In the past, in different friendships with men and women, I bonded over multiple areas. But all of them became either obsolete or toxic.

 

With my first ever best friend, we bonded over belonging to conservative families and having similar outlook towards life. But later on, I slowly started developing my own views about the world which a conservative family doesn’t accept. If I were still supposed to be close to her, it’s very difficult to keep a conversation going.

 

Later during college, I had a gang whose main purpose was to have a circle to hangout together and be there for each other when in need. After college, different people moved to different cities with the bond of being there for each other obsolete. 

 

The one on one close friends I had after college became obsolete because I stopped preparing for CAT, I stopped teaching for CAT students, I don’t write that often anymore, my friend felt envious of my photography, I don’t want to conform to a narrow set of views, I don’t want to gossip and so on.

 

I wrote a list of more than 30 people with whom I interacted closely in the past and how the relationship changed over years.

 

1.Emotional maturity

 

When you first become friends with each other, you might have a similar Intelligence Quotient (IQ) or Emotional Quotient (EQ). As you keep growing in life, your friends/life partner also need to grow at the same pace. The day the difference starts growing, it becomes a parasitic relationship where one person is always sucking out another person’s energy if the friendship still continues.

 

2.Outlook towards life 

 

In India, a lot of people develop their value system when they stay outside of home for the first time. This value system could be different from that of their family. But over time, based on different people they meet and different books they read, their outlook changes. Since they no longer have similar outlook, they might either part ways or be a different person to fit in vs what they truly feel inside or they choose to not grow at all for the fear of loss of friendship.

 

3.Hobbies

 

When you bond over a hobby and either of you lack healthy competition, it turns fatalistic. Instead of learning from each other, you end up comparing and pulling each other down. In the long run, if one of you stops doing the activity and does not have anything else to connect on.

 

4.Shared trauma 

 

When you bond over the same difficulties in life, you are permanently stuck in a victim mode. The day you heal from your trauma, there’s no bond left in the relationship. 

 

5.Emotional availability 

 

I was in a few friendships where the bond was based on emotional availability. When I reflect on that today, it fostered catastrophic thinking styles and made me mull over my emotions longer than it was needed. Now, when I know that any emotion truly lasts only for a few minutes, if you are crying on it even after that it means that you are trying to feed your ego and that is a hindrance to your spiritual growth.

 

What are some healthy ways to connect?

 

1.Bonding over freedom 

 

 If you have a growth mindset, you are always looking for opportunities to grow. If the friendship or relationship allows you to take up any and every opportunity to grow without being selfish and tying you down, it’s a healthy relationship and will sustain for ages.

 

2.Mutual Respect 

 

Two people don’t necessarily need to have the same outlook towards life. But very few people actually have the emotional maturity to accept each other’s views. This in turn helps in providing freedom for growth.

 

3.Enjoying the company 

 

Sometimes you might not really have anything to say. It could be a good time or a bad time. But just the presence of another person which indicates and infuses confidence in you is a beautiful bond.

 

For any relationship to work out in the longer run, all you need is to stop controlling, provide freedom for growth, accept the other person’s view without judgment, and provide a safe space for the person to be themselves.

 

I didn’t marry the best person out there. But I married someone who will bring in the best relationship for us.

 

That alone mattered and matters to me. So that is what we bond over.

 

Note: If you are actively looking out for a life partner, check out my workshop on choosing a life partner.

 

Happy Long Term Relationships!

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