“Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.” — Eric Fromm
In our modern society, it is pretty common to fall in and out of love quickly and without facing much responsibility. Like everything in life, to maintain a healthy and long-lasting relationship requires dedication and accountability. As we indulge in this connection of souls, we must also cater to its demands. Love requires not just presence, but complete surrender and commitment to the moment. On top of that, one must know how to navigate love’s complex signals, how to master the challenges that love throws our way. All this raises a big question: do you have time for love?
Many of us spend our lifetimes in a vicious circle when it comes to love, making the same mistakes without exploring new strategies when life gives us a different opportunity. Of course, each individual has their own personal inclinations and baggage; but there are patterns and norms within these boundaries, and certain disciplinary measures that each individual should follow with consistency. As mentioned before, time is fundamental, but what you do with that time is what determines the quality of a relationship. This is essential to maintaining a stable foundation. Dating that special person is a long-term commitment. Relationships should be developed and nurtured, at the very least in order not to be boring. To spend our lives in unsatisfying, energy-draining relationships out of convenience, or just because we feel more comfortable being with someone instead of being alone, is no way to be in love. Loneliness or a lack of motivation to “get out there” should never be an excuse. In fact, it’s better to end a toxic relationship and give yourself a chance to find happiness than to be stuck with someone who diminishes you, just to avoid being alone.
The survival challenges in most romantic relationships in our modern day and age involve career goals, income, distance, and “personal touch” (which I will explain later), which all require proper balancing and time management. It’s great when both individuals in a relationship are pursuing their goals and are on the same page, in terms of being career-oriented. And of course, both should feel confident enough to support the other in their individual careers, as well as understanding the demands and challenges that are unique to each position. Space to grow is always needed for success, be it in a loving relationship or on your chosen career path. A great number of today’s relationships fall apart due to one member excelling at their job, while the other is stagnating at home, or falling behind in their goals (Psychology Today, Jul 12, 2015). Unfortunately, there’s no proven formula to stop this sort of relationship collapse, but it’s possible to minimize the differences through a pre-relationship dialog and continued awareness. Keep addressing important issues as the relationship progresses; keep reminding yourself of the differences in career paths and the time it may take to succeed.
The income part in a relationship can be quite personal and very delicate to deal with, since today’s global inflation is forcing individuals to cut their expenses while they attempt to reach their desired professional goals. We all need to be sensitive to each other, to be caring in conversations around these issues, and to be aware of the other person’s needs when it comes to constructive communication. At times, sacrificing our own ego for the one we love is an act of care. These acts of care and kindness are the foundation for a strong, loving relationship between partners in life.
Long-distance relationships must be handled with even greater attention. Many careers demand a lot of traveling, which can minimize the time spent together between couples, opening the doors to infidelity, or feelings of abandonment and neglect. We have all heard the ancient stories of sailors having a lover in every port, but in the modern corporate world it is quite common for people (mostly men) to have affairs during business trips. This is one of the most sensitive issues within a relationship; distance is not confined to where we have an office or how far we live from one another, but to what lengths we would go to and what extra effort we would make once we felt a real connection and had a desire to pursue a long-term relationship. Balancing time in the relationship, finding time for intimacy, cooking together, exploring common interests together is what keeps the relationship healthy. Planning getaway trips, vacations or even intimate weekends at home (whenever possible) to explore each other’s desires (sexual, emotional, and mental) can help to minimize the risk and fear of infidelity.
The approach you use to connect with a person (as far as caring for their health and family, taking interest in their work-related challenges, tending to their sexual needs, having consideration for their mental state during the most challenging situations, and more) are summarized in what I call the “personal touch.” Avoiding arguments and calmly and lovingly solving differences, or embracing them, is essential for a healthy relationship. Always remember that it takes two to tango, and the more we are flexible and understanding with each other, the better and stronger the connection between two people becomes. Communication is an essential element in relationships. So is patience. And there can never be too much of either. Another precaution to take against falling out of love can be creative acts of love: candle-lit dinners, little surprises, flowers, an impromptu invitation to a spa getaway, or just something you can enjoy together in a spontaneous way. There’s a reason that the old adage of “it’s the thought that counts” is still in use today. Make it personal, be present, and make it count. That is how you turn a modern-day romance into a forever.
Miguel A. Elias.
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