Here is the latest topic that I’ve been pondering. Relationship dynamics. I’m talking more about the dynamics between two people rather than in a group of people here.
When I was younger, I used to believe that we just are who we are. No matter what friends we have, or who we date, we’re always the same person…we’re always “us”. But in reality, that’s not necessarily true. The relationship dynamics are so different from person to person that you interact with, because it depends not just on you, but on them. Have you ever had a friend who was really quiet, so you started to naturally take on a more outgoing type role? Or how about the opposite…having a friend who talks so much you naturally just become quieter to “make space” for that person? It happens all the time. We make accomodations for the people in our lives. So even if we’re still “us”, there can be a lot of versions of who we are, depending on the person we are around.
I think the real key to successful relationships is finding someone who is really compatible with us. They allow us to be the best person we can be. We don't have to worry about being too quiet, too loud, too moody, too excitable, too boring, or whatever.
Take for example my first serious boyfriend. He and I just meshed. We never fought, we always got along and personality wise, we were very much alike. He never pressured me to be anything different than what I was and I never pressured him to be different than how he was. It alleviated a lot of tension and a lot of potential issues. I was young and took it for granted, thinking I'd be that way in all relationships, that I would always be free to be me, and that it would be simple and easy.
A later relationship I had was the total opposite. He was kind of overbearing, and had very clear ideas about “what a man does” and “what a woman does”. Even though I’m not generally a passive person in relationships, I began to take on that role because of him. And I really didn’t like it. I wasn’t happy being “the little woman”. But after awhile I stopped rocking the boat because I didn't want to cause tension, which just left me unhappy. He and I did not mesh on a lot of things and it caused a lot of conflict. It was a huge relief when that relationship ended and I didn’t have to take on a role/roles that I didn’t want or "tone down" parts of myself to suit someone else. Yes, Underneath, I was the same person, but because of outside factors coming from the him, it affected me quite a bit, and my behavior and reaction to things changed into a person I didn't really recognize.
My current relationship has been very toxic for a very long time. He and I are not very compatible people, and most of the time it has been like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It doesn’t fit and trying to make it fit is a big pain. There is constant fighting, arguing and just negativity. Rather than bringing out the best in each other, we bring out the worst in each other. For awhile, I started to think that was just who I was…a negative, angry and depressed person. But when I started getting away from him more, I noticed I wasn’t that way! I was happier, more positive and just, in general, a better person. The dynamics between us caused this perfect storm of crap that became inescapable. Which I why I realized I had to get out.
Now, I’m aware of all of these things. I realize that we are who we are, but that can change somewhat depending on the particular dynamics with any other individual. The best relationships help you thrive and be the best version of you. The worst relationships make all your negative traits come out and can leave you feeling lost and unrecognizable to yourself. It makes me think about people quite a bit, and why we end up with who we do, and what we get out of these relationships. Thankfully, I've learned a lot from all the relationships/friendships I've had in life and that has me better prepared to not settle for bad dynamics with someone and to keep looking for something that brings out the best.
Going forward in life, I’m interested in finding people (friends, lovers, or otherwise) that have that positive dynamic with me. People that I don’t have to “dial myself down” for or otherwise change. People often make the comment after relationships fail that, “There are plenty of fish in the sea!” And while that may be true that there are millions of people on this earth and a plethora of potential meetings/friendships/relationships you could have, it doesn’t mean that everyone you meet you will want to be around! Worse yet, no one should force themselves to be around someone they have a bad dynamic with, although sadly it happens a lot. Low self-esteem, loneliness, dysfuctional coping mechanisms and a whole host of other things contribute to us staying in relationships/friendships with bad dynamics. At this point in my life, I realized that I would rather be alone than deal with any of that garbage. Maybe I will find great new people that I'm just DYING to be around, and maybe I'll just find shallow surface friendships/relationships. But I know better than to settle for less than I want anymore.