These things promise so much for our relationships, but offer so little in the long run. Here are some things that don’t actually keep people together.
The early stages of love are often so difficult to traverse. It’s the question of going from stranger to lover. Sometimes, you have already been friends for a period of time and already know the person, but now it’s that awkward stage of working out how to move beyond friends. That whole “winning her heart” or “getting his attention” phase can really take a lot out of us.
As such, we adopt a number of ploys to assist in helping love bloom. We call it game. Or swagger. We have techniques that we employ. We have aspects of our person that we focus on and develop in order to “assist in the hunt”. A lot of things on surface glance actually look really important.
But you know, some of those things that we invest a lot into at the start aren’t always enough to actually get a relationship to go the distance.
With divorce on the rise, we really need to ask ourselves if what we consider important is really actually important. Because there are a whole lot of things that promise to help us get together with the object of our affection, but they don’t actually seem to help sustain a lifelong romance.
And it’s the same with friendships – many of these techniques are often applied across both types of relationships, and often don’t lead to sustainable communion with another person.
Here are 5 things that don’t actually keep people together… even if they do get some results at the start.
#1: Money… by itself
We always say money can’t buy us happiness, but it’s amazing how much of our lives is focused on pursuing money. It’s usually our career’s ultimate pursuit. Get a job, then what? Get promoted. Then what? Get promoted again. Why? Mo money, cha ching.
This is weird to see on this list, huh? They say there are three main things people fight about in marriage – God, sex, and money. Many couples cite financial issues as the reason they ultimately decide to separate. And hey, all of us want to provide well for our families. Many of us have pure enough motives when it comes to our desire to grow the wealth in our lives. It sounds like money would be an important part of us being together.
But it’s not really money on it’s own, is it? After all, there are many couples on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale who have as happy a marriage or a friendship as any of us.
Maybe it’s more our approach to money. Or maybe even more than that – our approach to disagreements, which is what money is usually the subject of. Tim and Joy Downs talk about this in their book, Fight Fair. As the title suggests, they put forward how important it is that you don’t avoid conflict, but that you navigate it well.
And sure, $1 billion in the bank may help minimize the tension of not knowing where your next meal or holiday is going to come from. But there are enough rich people who break off their relationships to show that it isn’t enough on its own to go the distance.
You want to know what’s crazy? How many celebrity divorces there are. I mean, these people make the top 100 most beautiful people every single year for their face and their figure. You’ve got debonair grey foxes and strapping young lads with fine form, good fashion sense, and impeccable hygiene. Similarly, you have these feminine angels who grace the earth with their beauty, having everything seemingly fitting in every single possible way, with curves in all the right places, and with a smile to melt the hardest heart.
And yet it seems like these people have the biggest relationship issues of all of us. Just think about this for a second. People are content to break up with someone who looks as good as these Hollywood beauties do.
It really does show that looks aren’t everything. And yet so many times, we treat them like everything. I mean, attraction is important, but maybe attraction is about something deeper than someone’s appearance. And sure, I know we all say that’s the case, and we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the hidden person of the heart is the most beautiful of them all… but what do we act like? A person’s physical appearance is often the first thing we get used to after we’ve spent enough time with them.
#3: Playing hard to get
Here’s an interesting one. When the chase is on, this is a commonly used tactic to woo the opposite sex. And yet whether or not this is actually a good strategy during the chase, it may help you seal the deal at the start, but it certainly doesn’t help sustain the relationship going forward.
Bishop TD Jakes, in one of his relationship series (and books) titled “Before You Do”, speaks to this behaviour. He says that “I’m always seeing couples who are always playing emotional games with each other… the only problem is that marriage isn’t for kids”.
In playing hard to get, we act like we’re emotionally available. But once you’ve got the girl or the guy, the act becomes the reality of the relationship. You don’t just appear hard to get, you actually are hard to get, or at least that’s the experience of the other person. But why play hard to get with the one who is supposed to already have you? We hide who we are from this person.
I wonder why it is that we do this sort of stuff to each other. Why is it that we’re content to play with the heart of the person or people who is closest to us? I’ve even seen this happen a lot in friendships, where one or both parties put up these flaming hoops for the other person to jump through before they’ll open up about anything. The only problem is that people eventually get tired of jumping through hoops and eventually give up, or maybe they just get burnt by the flaming hoops they’re failing to make it through.
Hard to get is not a viable long term strategy for any relationship.
A while ago I wrote a post about my experiences as a third wheel. This was based off a lot of my experiences with a number of friends and my own romantic life. As a third wheel, you definitely do notice when people start to pull away from others and just focus on their relationship or even just their friendship. You invite them to all the events, but they’re always with their lover, their BFF, or always busy doing something they never really explain. After a while, you notice they never come to anything, so you just stop inviting them to things. Their whole existence is in their honeymoon or friendship or love bubble.
For a time.
Unfortunately, I have had the experience way too many times of what happens with couples or friends or just activities that have led to people being isolated from all their other friends and relationships. This relationship has been their whole entire world. And yet, as inevitably does happen, when there is a disagreement, or a problem, or when the only person in your life is not able to meet all your emotional needs, or even just the tensions of life… an explosion occurs.
And because you’ve isolated yourself, no one is around to help you out. No one is aware that you’re struggling. There are no voices in your life encouraging you in your relationship or friendship together.
King Solomon wrote that “he who isolates himself rages against all sound judgment”. It really is dangerous locking yourself out from the world. And sure, it is important that this significant other is treated as a significant other, in that your time investment is significant. But if there are no other voices or people in your life, it might not actually help you stay together in the long run.
And if there are no people in your life – if you’re always keeping yourself busy and never available for anything, that’s even worse a fate. Don’t be afraid to open up and let the light in.
They say opposites attract. Maybe they’re right. But one thing becomes clearer over time – they don’t keep people together.
The thing that initially attracted you to that person at the start has become the source of your frustration in the relationship. You admired how outgoing and spontaneous they were, but now that you’re with them, it is constantly conflicting with your introverted nature and your desire to have a few more nights at home. You loved their thrill-seeking nature, but your reserved and conservative tastes are not enjoying their idea of fun.
Maybe opposites attract, but it’s our common ground that keeps us together. If we don’t have any common ground, then we need to make some. This is one I’ve had to work on in my friendships especially. We have to have more in common than we do different. Sure, not everything has to be the same, but we have to meet in the middle. Cause that’s where our relationship really exists.
Anyway, just some things I’ve been thinking about on the realms of what it is that keeps us together or pulls us apart. So many times we’re so focused on the things that don’t really matter, and not always giving enough attention to the things that really do.
Just one man’s thoughts.
How about you? What do you think are some things that we think keep us together, but actually don’t matter as much in the long run?