Relationships, not just referring to romantic relationships, but in the broader sense, relationships of all sorts, can either bring us stress or joy, depending on the “ingredients” the two individuals have put in. A successful and strong relationship is the one that maintains a balance between the three essential ingredients of respect, friendship, and love, while a weak relationship either completely misses out a necessary ingredient, or stems from an excessiveness in an ingredient used.
It is doubtless that respect is the foundation of every healthy relationship, and love alone holds no importance if respect is missing. Respect in a relationship means fully accepting the other person as a normal and unique human being like everybody else with certain strengths, weaknesses and differences. Respecting means allowing the person to be free – free to pursue their goals and passions; free to express and practice their beliefs; free to be themselves and to do anything as long as it isn’t morally questionable. When a relationship lacks respect, it becomes very difficult and stressful to maintain it since a disrespectful person usually tries to dominate the other, oftentimes coming across as judgmental and desperately trying to manipulate the way they think. The problem with the disrespectful person often boils down to low self-esteem and the unrealistic expectations placed on the other person’s shoulders.
A relationship based on respect means that the two people feel secure, have their necessary boundaries, personal privacy, are able to compromise on things and are honest to voice what they feel when something is problematic. They don’t become pleasers or narcissists – but allow each other just to be who they are.
How do you differentiate between friendship and love, and understand the importance of friendship in a relationship?
Who do we usually befriend? A person who resonates with our beliefs and understands us on a deep level. The fact often left unnoted is that somebody who loves you may not necessarily understand you. Love and understanding are not mutually inclusive. Let’s take the example of a father and son giving each other a tough time, because the father is forcing his son to choose a “respectable manly career” like engineering or pilotage, when the son has been blessed with a wonderfully creative mind and possesses all the potentials to become a superb artist. Nobody would go to the extent of saying that the father doesn’t love his child. But the only thing that is very much lacking here is friendship - it’s often this lack of friendship and extreme differences in personality that mutual understanding fails to take place in a relationship, leaving the two individuals frustrated and rendering them unable to have profound communications. Two people who love one another but fail to be each other’s friends will undoubtedly have a very hard time trying to clearly understand each other.
And of course, love is what completes every relationship and beautifies life. While it is true that genuine love should manifest in our actions and that ultimately actions are the yardstick for determining the sincerity of love, it is also important to frequently express this love to the loved one – be it through words, through gifts, or through celebrations. There’s absolutely nothing more joyful than being called special, after all.
One very important thing, which many people fail to understand and as a result many relationships end up getting extremely difficult, is the definition of genuine love and that how it differs from obsession. Obsession is completely tying your inner happiness, your needs, your sense of self-worth and security with someone and desperately trying to seek perfection in them, when just like you and every other human being, they’re imperfect. An obsessed person becomes too clingy and dependent, which in the end makes them lose their own worth and causes them to become rather annoying.
Obsession is when a broken, incomplete, and insecure person who hasn’t really discovered or loved his own self goes on to create a bond with somebody else. Love is when an already whole, already complete, and confident person creates a bond whilst not letting that bond define him. The truth is that if you cannot feel whole and happy with your own self, nobody else will be able to make you feel so. If you can’t love your own self, nobody else will love you. As Tenzin Palmo Jetsunma beautifully puts it,
“Any kind of relationship which imagines that we can fulfil ourselves through another is bound to be very tricky. I mean, ideally, people would come together already feeling fulfilled within themselves and just therefore appreciating that in the other rather than expecting the other to supply that sense of well-being which they don’t feel on their own.”
In conclusion, a relationship containing these three valuable ingredients of respect, friendship and love, is really bound to bring the most happiness and peace. Relationships can be hard work and can become ambiguous at times, but the ones combining the ingredients can stand through the darkest of times.