"Love gives us a heightened consciousness through which to apprehend the world, but anger gives us a precise, detached perception of its own."
― Scott Spencer, Endless Love
Is our love Endless Love?
If we dream of a romantic love that knows no bounds, that sweeps us away in mists of dewy sentiment, then the new movie coming out starring teenage heartthrob Alex Pettyfer on Valentine's Day might confirm those illusions.
The movie is a remake of the 1981 Brooke Shields movie with that Diana Ross song. Unlike the original 1979 novel by Scott Spencer, which focuses darkly on romantic and erotic obsession (the book on which both movies are supposedly based), the new movie seems designed to put the next generation of starry-eyed teens and young adults into therapy for a long time as they cope with the disappointment and inevitable disillusionment of Hollywood chimera.
But if we're not caught up in the equally illusory consumer hype of Valentine's Day, we might want to take the opportunity to evaluate a romantic relationship we already have -- is it as healthy as it can be?
Here are 10 signs the relationship we are in may not be good for us and may not last.
1. We feel stressed, edgy or worried when we think of our partner.
2. We are often disappointed by what they say or do. This indicates either that we have unrealistic expectations of this person or that we are being deceived.3. Arguments are...
- Constant and/or sometimes become violent.
- Don't clear the air or resolve misunderstandings, but instead create more distress or feelings of being misunderstood or alone.
4. Our partner seems to be operating on a different set of values to us, or to what we thought we shared.5. Sex...
- Is good -- even passionate and exciting -- but it seems to be the only part of the relationship that works, especially make-up sex.
- Is appalling, embarrassing or non-existent.
- Is desired by a partner much more often or much less frequently than you want it, or it's the kind of sex that doesn't appeal to you.
6. We argue about money.
7. Our partner doesn't like our friends or vice-versa.
8. We feel insecure when they are socializing, meaning we don't trust them.
a. They guard their phone closely.
b. They spend a lot of time chatting online to 'friends' or going out without saying where they are going.
9. The giving and forgiving is all one-way.
10. It's difficult, sometimes impossible, to communicate in a rational manner.
If this describes even a part of your relationship, it's not based on love -- it's actually a war zone.
On the other hand, here are 12 signs of a healthy relationship that has a good chance of lasting:1. Mutual attraction:
- You feel excited, warm, loving or happy at the thought of seeing each other.
- You love spending time together. It's often magical.
- There is active mutual appreciation which is frequently communicated -- you don't take each other for granted.
- Everything can be discussed honestly, respectfully and rationally, without confusion, blame games or subtle mind games.
- No subject is taboo.
- You don't so much have arguments as misunderstandings that can be cleared up through discussion.
- Negotiation instead of compromise means that there's a better chance of both partners getting what they want and need.
- The way you treat other people, and also yourself.
- Values around fidelity and commitment to the relationship.
- Your priorities in life.
4. You have similar level of awareness. You are each insightful and perceptive about what may run beneath your own and the other's behavior, and you address differences as needed.5. You have similar levels of accountability and responsibility.
- You are independent of each other as well as interdependent.
- You don't blame the other for making you feel the way you feel. You are responsible for how you feel, how you react and how you respond.
- You are responsible for our own messes and for rectifying them.
- When you are too tired or stressed with family or work commitments to feel that 'in love' feeling, you can still consider and respect the other's basic needs and rights in a reciprocal way.
- On the basis of liking each other, you can easily create that 'in love' feeling, at will.
- Fidelity is important. What you are trusting is our own and our partner's commitment to the relationship. You are both transparent in what we do.
- You need to know if you can trust them about other things too: Are they reliable? If they say they'll do something, do they do it, and at the time they said they would? Do they say what they mean and mean what they say? This means if they say they're fine about something, they really are, or they'd say otherwise.
- This refers to autonomy. Autonomous individuals determine their own needs and take responsibility to supply themselves with what they need.
- Each of you can receive without feeling you've lost status somehow and you support each other when needed.
- Interactions are adult on both sides.
9. Sex is exciting, warm, tender and reciprocal. It's also flexible in times of stress, responsibilities for children, illness and fatigue.
10. You find each other interesting, funny and fun.
11. You're going in the same direction. This means similar or combined goals or priorities.12. Your own opinion of you is more important than anyone else's, although feedback is welcome and carefully considered.
- This means you don't need each other for reassurance, self-fulfillment or direction.
- It means you can self-soothe if you're upset and don't place unreasonable demands on our partner to rescue or nurture us.
There are no guarantees for any relationship. You can't know for sure that it will last a lifetime because we're not static beings, but living, growing individuals.
If you -- and your partner - can consciously create yourselves as authentic and responsible, there's a good chance you can also create a love that will last a lifetime.
Transpersonal psychotherapist Avril Carruthers is the author of the just-released Freedom from Toxic Relationships, from Tarcher/Penguin.
© Avril Carruthers 11.2.14