The pistons of love
I heard someone say yesterday that forty percent of people who get plastic surgery these days do it because they want to take better selfies.
And it makes me think about all the broken hearts and failed relationships that are going to happen due to this generation putting so much weight on images and aesthetics.
I grew up with images as well, billboards, magazines, and movies. But there was more distance between these images and reality. I was able to see the boards behind the Hollywood sign that held it up. Today, the gap has closed. Our neighbors are now the models and movie stars. And they put a lot of thought into how they present themselves. So we set our standards based on presentations intead of truth.
And so we chase the shine, forgetting or never learning that relationships are sustained through the grit. Not the shine.
In our digital age, it’s easy to forget that beauty has more than two dimensions. And what it takes to build a sustaining meaningful relationship, one that will endure all the seasons of life where both of you guys can look back one day, sitting in two separate bath tubs connected by interlocked hands, and be proud of what you’ve built, takes more than a fancy filter.
Imagine a relationship as an engine
There are four pistons that need to pump in order for the engine (relationship) to move foward.
Chemistry / attraction.
This is the first domino and it needs to tip in order for the process to begin. We all know this. But here’s my challenge to you. Explore what attraction feels like. Stretch your definitions. Be open to different types of attraction and move your chips around. Bet on different things. Be open to things you may not have been open to before. Because you’re different now so allow that difference to ripple into all areas of your life, including what you’re attracted to. Let old blueprints go. Can attraction grow up? Can attraction evolve? Yes, it can and should.
Expressing how you feel. This is everything. Most people know this but don’t because they’re not used to it. Maybe they were raised in a space where it was not promoted. Telling people how you feel is difficult. Most of us are not used to doing it. It takes courage and practice. But if you don’t, you’re building your relationship on sand. You’re doing life around the person. Not with the person. And that creates drift and a eventually the house of cards comes crumbling down.
Self awareness / ability to take ownership.
If you are with someone who is not aware of himself, how his thoughts and actions affect others, where his triggers come from, generally understanding himself and his story, your relationship will always be lopsided and have a ceiling. The relationship itself will not grow. You may but not the relationship. Simply put, you will out grow him. No self awareness = no ownership = resentment from the other. When people don’t take ownership, resentment is created. Resentment creates cracks in the relationship until it shatters into too many pieces that can’t be put back together.
A solid friendship.
Liking someone is more rare than loving someone. We can choose to love anyone. For example, our parents. But we can’t choose to like someone. If you don’t like who you’re with, it’s almost impossible to build something with that person. It’s easy to forget that ninety percent of a relationship is just about the hang. Not the sex. Not the big conversations.
The foundation of your relationship will always be the friendship. If you don’t have a solid one, your relationship won’t go far.
These are the four pistons and if you can get all four of these puppies pumping, you will have a good thing and your relationship will move forward. But four pistons means a four cylinder engine.
You want your relationship to be a strong V6?
Here are two more pistons.
Common beliefs about the world, people, how we should live, move, eat, treat other people, the big things we believe in, will always produce more glue. Yes, you can technically build something with different views but when your clouds overlap, those bigger beliefs create legs. (note: Anything greater than the individual selves, like beliefs, passions, and values, will always strengthen the bond.
Many will argue that humor should be one of the four cylinders in the base model. I can see that. But I think friendship overall is more crucial and humor is a part of that.
Making each other laugh is what generates fun and crushes clocks and you always want to be around each other. Life is just easier when you’re around people who can make you laugh. In a shotglass, you’re just happier. It’s also rich soil for friendship.
A very serious relationship with no humor can turn dry very fast.
Okay, so let’s say you have all six pistons pumping.
But you want more. You want your relationship engine to be the most powerful one you’ve ever had.
You want a turbo.
That will be your turbo.
Maybe it’s the romantic in me but I refuse to believe that love is always logical. Sometimes there is that extra something that can’t be explained or dissected. You can’t build a relationship on magic alone. But magic — the turbo can make your little four cylinder faster than a V6.
What is magic?
I can’t define that for you.
But usually it’s a feeling. An energy produced by two souls. For some, it’s spiritual. For some, it’s amazing banter. For some, a magnetic chemistry they haven’t experienced before that isn’t toxic or unhealthy. For some, as simple as a knowing glance. For some, it’s touch. For some, exceptional trust.
Something unique to you two.
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