There are a plethora of idioms that groom us for how to treat different relationships. For example, in families it is said that blood is thicker than water. Of friends it is said that they are few when days are dark. Of lovers it is said that there are plenty of fish in the sea and if we marry them, it is said that two should become one. It is easy to dismiss these as silly sayings, but we cannot underestimate the impact everyday language has on settling certain ideas into our consciousness. This is an important consideration when thinking about how we treat different relationships differently and how change in those relationships elicit different responses from us.
Family relations are often handled with a level of commitment and obligation that other relationships don’t enjoy. This idea of commitment might give us the idea that our family members have an obligation to be certain kinds of people for us. The roles we cast family members in and the related expectations we place on them may make it more difficult to accept when they reject those roles. I am of the belief that our families are made up of people in the same way that society is made up of different people. Some of them are great people, and others not so great. Some will become friends and others won’t. We must see our family relations as people before they are anything to us. This way we see how they are not beholden to roles that are meant to suit us. This way we can learn to form healthier more sustainable relationships with them as they evolve.
The idea of friends in general discourse has been placed second to family, even though they are often the most important relationships we will ever have. Nevertheless, we may feel less entitled to them which can be good for boundaries, but it might also make us less inclined to mend breakdowns in the relationship. Friendships require patience and understanding if we are to overcome our differences and accept what our friends’ growth brings. Unlike with family, here we might have to cling tighter in order to meet the demands that change makes of us.
With romantic relationships, we often talk about finding ‘the one’. It is quite a hefty thought that out of the many people we will encounter in life, there must be one that fulfills all our needs and desires and based on the ability to do that they are ‘the one’. We project many hopes and dreams onto potential and actual lovers, and when they seem to break the agreements we have made in our head, we feel betrayed. We must ask ourselves if we have chosen to be with an idea or a person. Sometimes, the evolution of our partners requires us to question our own desires instead of their evolution.
Different relationships require different things of us, but we must question our own responses to the changes those close to us undergo. Fear of loss or change is a normal thing, but it cannot win over the commitment to allow loved ones to be their best selves. We should always be willing to try again.