Lesson 43: Don’t judge your relationship by the standards of others

Everyone has an opinion.  Everyone has a way of looking at things and evaluating the situation based on their own experiences and that is the way of the world.  It is important to not only understand that, you need to expect it as well.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with that unless you let it get to you.  People will take your story and make an effort to relate it to theirs.  They also have their own understanding of how things should proceed for others and that is OK.  Just remember that their advice and choices, much like everything I have written so far, and will continue to write, are based on personal history and experiences.

Everything that we know is based on our experiences.  All of our choices are based on what we learn from those experiences.  Without experience, there are no comparisons to be made and no data to be processed.  When you touch something hot and it burns your hand, your body registers that you touched something under those specific conditions and were not satisfied with the result.  That, in turn, leads to a reminder the next time similar conditions arise, what happened, the result, and whether or not you wish for the same thing to happen again.  The same goes with relationships.  It is important to note that learning from others is important, but they are only operating based on their own experiences.  They may be very smart, but that doesn’t mean they understand.

You don’t have to apply everything you are told in order to be a good listener.  The opinion of others should have value, whether it is good or bad.  It is information that is coming from an outside source so there is valuable perspective being provided.  Don’t be afraid to accept input from others.  That is one of many ways to learn and get an evaluation of things from a fresh perspective.  Remember that your opinion is the one that matters most.  The person most affected by the decisions you make is going to be you.  Just because someone else had a particular experience and an undesirable result, does not necessarily mean that the exact same thing will happen to you.  It could.  It might even be likely.  But that is not a guarantee.  There are no guarantees in relationships.  

One of the many ways for a relationship to end is to constantly compare it to the relationship of others.  There are few things I know of that are more unattractive than constantly talking about someone else’s relationship in a way that suggests it is better than yours.  It is a sensitive subject and a quick route to an argument.  There are plenty of things to compare, but why would you want to?  Focus too much on the relationship of others, you will start to lose sight of your own.  If you see something you like and want to apply to yours, do it.  If you see something you don’t like, avoid it.  Otherwise, focus on your own relationship.  Mind your own business and you will find that there is enough to do to maintain your own without worrying about the relationships of others.        

Your relationships will always be unique.  It may have some similarities to others, it may have many, but it will never be the same thing.  Using the relationships of others as a guidepost or measurement for your own will have many results, but none of them accurate or even very helpful.  Judge your relationships based on your wants and desires.  Gauge the relationship by how happy you are and how happy your significant other is.  Everything else is just noise and distraction.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept input.  It means that you don’t need to accept that input as the one and only truth.  Similar doesn’t mean it is the same.  It means close.  Things can always go differently and it is up to you whether or not you want to figure that out. 

Takeaways

  1. You don’t have to apply everything you are told in order to be a good listener.
  2. No one’s experience will ever truly reflect your own.
  3. Mind your own business and let others mind theirs.
  4. Similar doesn’t mean the same.
  5. Just because it happened to someone else doesn’t mean it will happen to you.

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