While I was doing research on my miniseries about dreams, I stumbled on several things I found particularly memorable and important. Things, that I didn’t necessarily notice in my past three and a half years of relationship with perhaps the most remarkable person I’ve ever known. In some way our break-up opened my eyes for them to be seen in the first place which is something that I found especially painful and ironic at the same time and damn, that caused me many sleepless nights and days full of hate an anger towards myself. In an everchanging world we need to evolve ourselves on every mental and emotional level or we simply fall behind. When we fall behind we get resentful, lonely and frustrated which ultimately leads to degeneration, more suffering and death. Which is not good. So what do we do to prevent that? We interact with each other, seek out family, friends and romantic relationships because that’s what we need. We are social animals and without positive social interaction we wither.
So, as we stumble through the world basically knowing nothing at all about ourselves, let alone other people we are still constantly forced to make decisions and interact with each other based on our perception of reality. And most of the time we are far from being ready. This is simply the way it is. What we know and are right now is all we have in this very moment. But this doesn’t mean that we cannot consider the future, plan ahead and prepare for anything we possibly can prepare for. This is, by the way, why we have a social system, rules and a hierarchy that determines our position and status in this society. And we can move around within this hierarchy and society by constantly working on how we view ourselves, others and how much we contribute to the success of our life and ultimately the success of our society as a whole. That’s because everything we do, everything, has consequences. Everything we do not do has consequences as well. And as simple as that sounds, that’s something to consider at every moment we are aware and for everything we did, do or consider doing. It has incredible impacts on how we construct our reality and the reality of others in every second of our lives. The way we act in our belief system majorly influences the belief systems of the people that interact with us daily or even randomly. But what is a belief system?
Our current state of evolution as humans leaves us with an amazing ability that no other living being on earth or in the so far known universe possesses. It is the ability of free will. This is what makes us aware beings without being slave to a genetic code that makes animals for example act and interact with not much freedom of decision (and some humans as well but that’s another topic).
But that ‘gift’ comes with a heavy responsibility and burden. There is something underlying our belief system and acting as it’s core if you will. That is what we call meaning. Something with meaning is an action or event that we personally consider as important, memorable or valuable in some way. And what is particularly remarkable about this is, that what we consider meaningful varies strongly depending on our age, our current level of social and emotional development and our place in the hierarchy of society and our values. It also heavily depends on our current emotional and psychological state. So if we are depressed our dopamine and serotonin levels are extremely low and our perception of what is meaningful gets drowned and clouded. That usually happens when our entire belief system or major parts of it get shaken or destroyed entirely. Then we usually fall into a deep hole called depression and good luck getting out of that. It’s extremely hard to say the very, very least.
So, to prevent that from happening our perception of reality heavily relies on our belief system which is driven by the meaning we give the things in there. And as amazing as we humans are, we are very different as well and that reflects into our belief system and ultimately tells what we consider meaningful. And considering we have something in our life that represents meaning to our belief system, then one might say that we would naturally do whatever we can to protect what is meaningful to us to keep our belief system intact so we don’t get anxious, depressed, resentful and die.
Well, if you paid attention so far in life you will immediately notice that this is not that simple. People do things all the time that go partially or fully against their belief system and what they consider right and meaningful. That usually happens in the face of despair, pain, mental illness or a state of erratic happiness. Which is in fact very interesting with children.
See, when children are like what, three or four, all these little shits do is run around and play and have fun when they’re not busy sleeping, eating, crapping or throwing a temper tantrum. Not a lot different than some of their their adult counterparts but anyways. When we watch parents with children sometimes then we will notice something funny. Whenever their kids are in an overly good mood or being loud while playing and having fun, they tell them to be quiet and calm down. But why do we do that? I mean, it’s great, the kid is having the time of his or her life, having fun and being happy, right? So why would we possibly want our kids to stop having fun and being happy?
Well it’s actually quite simple. First, it’s f-ing annoying after a while. But more importantly, we teach the kid an important lesson which is that we’re not always supposed to be happy and joyful. Well, why not? It feels great, right?
When were in ecstatic happiness we’re the most tempted to make stupid decisions. People make the silliest investment when they are in extreme happiness. They buy the worst stocks, food that they most likely wont eat when they calm down later and waste their money on short-term catalysts of happiness, which we would call signs of hedonistic behavior. Malls and amusement parks are entirely built on this concept. Give people as much of that happiness as possible so they keep throwing their money at the business. And if it’s so stupid, then why do we do this? It’s basically tied to our brains reward center. If we feel joy and happiness then our body produces serotonin and dopamine and that makes us feel good, causing our reward system to activate. Once this shit is going it’s very hard to make it stop. That is because it keeps asking for more dopamine and we keep giving it and spend money on stupid shit and it asks for more and more like a rat constantly ripping that cocaine lever for more of that white stuff and.. you get the picture.
Usually you can see this kind of behavior getting excessive with less cognitively developed people, animals and well, children. Many people who win the Superball or any other type of lottery tend to lose all of their millions within a surprisingly short amount of time and end up in an even lower spot in the social hierarchy than where the found themselves before winning all this money. Simply because they waste it on short term luxury goods and slip into a hedonistic lifestyle they are simply not able to sustain for a very long time. So when we feel happy and ecstatic we will most likely make stupid decisions.
And ultimately, a lot of times it will go against what we consider meaningful or right in terms of how our belief system is set up because the temporary feeling of satisfaction can easily overrule the long term necessity of supporting what we consider meaningful if you don’t have a particularly good amount of self-awareness and self-control. But this can also be caused by mental disorders, depression or despair which I probably don’t need to further explain why that is.
So, what gives most people meaning? Love would be the short and most fitting answer. Damn, this is the shit we live for. If everything is going good for us then we have a family we love, a pet we love, friends we love and even a job we genuinely enjoy doing. And who of us can say that they have all that going for them at once.
What most people have or have had though is love in terms of what we consider a romantic interest for someone that particularly fits our ideal picture of a partner. When this happens then damn.. shit hits the fan. Our mental cocaine lever gets smashed so hard that we fall into this childish state of ecstatic happiness and man, that feels great. Falling in love and being in love feels amazing. And it’s even more amazing when this feeling lasts and evolves into a deeper kind of love and genuine appreciation of the partner and if that’s mutual, then well.. that’s great and that should keep you guys going forever, right? I’m sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t. And that’s not necessarily because our parents trained us as kids to stop having so much fun so we go back to normal and stop feeling all these great things. This actually even benefits the relationship.
It’s more that we as humans are still confronted with everything else around us and in us that has a major influence on our belief system. And once you fall in love and enter a romantic relationship this belief system generally gets very strong and protective of what gives it meaning which is the partner in that case. And most people entirely rely on this. Love will overrule everything is a pretty popular statement but from a psychological point of view that’s not entirely correct because if you only rely on that you are in for a bad surprise sooner or later.
Just being in love does not free you from paying attention to acting consciously and responsibly towards society and your partner at any time in any case. And most of you would say that this comes without saying but if you take a moment to look around or maybe even reflect your own past relationships, you will notice that it doesn’t. It absolutely doesn’t and that is the reason why most first crushes and partners break up at some point in almost every case. The feeling of love and excitement fades and all there is left is habit and responsibility and well, where is the fun in that, right?
So when we’re older and we have had our good amount of good and bad experiences we naturally become smarter and more capable of keeping apart real love from just temporary episode of loneliness and lust. We actually get pretty damn good at it. In fact so good, that we can tell apart people who just want to take advantage of us really quickly and it’s usually not that obvious and that we are able to do that is very remarkable and impressive on a neurological and psychological level.
And that is usually around the time where we meet someone we most likely will spend a fairly large part of our life if not the rest of it with. We notice traits and things we missed in our past relationships and pay attention to things we had no idea we needed and that’s where true genuine love develops. We enjoy every little thing about each other and no matter how basic and silly it is, it becomes an act of genuine joy with no cocaine or butterflies involved. Shopping together, showering, cooking, watching shows and even cleaning or doing work turns into a source of happiness and recovery and that is when you realize that it’s real. And I’m sorry to break it to you but even this won’t last if you don’t f-ing pay attention to yourself and your partner. Because that still won’t keep the monsters out. And in an astonishingly big amount of times the monsters are inside of you. They come in many shapes and colors and can stretch from boredom, loneliness, bad habits, egoism and narcissism or only behavior patterns from each of those.
And you might say that you have none of those problems which is probably fair to say, because who wants to let the monster inside your own yard. Well, the monsters find their way inside by themselves. Because even in a strong and loving relationship conflict is and will always be a natural part of cooperation. It goes hand in hand like chaos and order or nature and civilization. There is no growth without destruction. No happiness without sadness and no fun without responsibility. And many couples do not understand or realize that. Which is very sad because this leads to fights and disagreements being a major reason why many young and actually pretty good relationships break apart. Thankfully many of them find each other again when they are older and more evolved but that’s not always the case.
So very important, don’t be afraid of conflict. Stay respectful and always approach your partner listening and with the assumption, that he or she knows something that you don’t. And there is no exception for this rule. Because then you’re open for improvement and solution. And then you start to listen. And when you listen you start to learn and grow and evolve. And since you both are interacting with each other the growth goes both ways.
The other thing about telling yourself that you have no issues is, that in almost all cases, this is simply a lie. And not just any lie, a vicious one as well because you’re telling it to yourself. What happens if you lie to yourself? Well, you can see it as some kind of line or rope that goes along with you as you walk through your life. As long as you say the truth it will stay perfectly straight and not interfere with you walking. When you start lying or even hiding the truth, this rope will start getting curvy and making loops. And these loops don’t stay where they occurred, they follow you along the line wherever you go. So you start to have to watch your step so you don’t get caught in one of those loops and trip. And that’s exhausting man. It wears you out and makes you frustrated, sensitive and angry because this never leaves you alone. But why do we lie? Well naturally, most of the time for example kids lie to get out of something they know they did wrong. Some kids are actually remarkably good at this. If you work with children in your job you will notice that some very young kids even learned to set others up in order to avoid getting punished and giving the dangerous adult a victim so no more questions are being asked. Why do kids do that?
Well, if you take a regular child of like four years of age, they are firstly much smaller and a lot weaker than the adults responsible for them. So naturally, kids have a respect and a good amount of fear towards these giants that tell you what to do and get angry from time to time and sometimes even punish you. And well, this punishment is most of the times the key to why some kids learn to lie at a much younger age than others. Kids who get punished more frequently or even physically through slaps and even beating are not going to mess up less or stop acting out all by themselves. So if they mess up again their simple cognitive functions signal to them, that punishment is imminent. And that’s fear. That’s terror. So to get out of there they develop a simple strategy that gives them a free get-out-of-jail ticket every time they do it. They simply don’t say what they did and if it’s too obvious to be hidden, they tell that they didn’t do it or that someone else did it. And when that works, they learn that it works and that at a very young age. And this is why it’s extremely important to learn how to properly discipline your child in a productive and meaningful way because otherwise you’ll be creating monsters that you won’t be able to undo when they grow up and these kids will carry monsters around that will make it very hard for them to get through life because liars are not particularly popular in our society. People figure them out pretty quickly so lying is one of the worst things you can do to anyone and that counts especially for your partner. But the best part about lying is: you know when you do it. It’s not a subconscious process that you can’t get a grip of and that happens outside of your awareness. Yes, it is hard to tell the truth sometimes and many times it even brings grave consequences and that is scary. It’s fucking scary but it is the one and only right thing to do. Because whenever you say the truth, the result will be what is supposed to be, no matter what it is because you told the truth. And if you don’t? Well then things get complicated. You create something that wasn’t there to begin with. And it will open up questions. To answer these questions you will make up more lies for the lies you already told. And that will go on until finally this entire thing you built will blow up in your face. And trust me, it will. And it will tear you apart and if you haven’t experienced pain, real crippling pain to this point, then that’s the point where you will.
You can see it as a plastic ruler you hold in front of your face. The ruler represents reality, so every time you don’t tell the truth you bend reality. You bend the ruler. And the more you bend it, the more tension and stress will be put on it. And in the end it just slaps you in the face and that isn’t nice for anybody who’s involved. Mark Twain once said: If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
So tell the truth. Be faithful. Be sincere. Or at least don’t lie. Ever.
The next thing sounds rather simple and the fact of it being rather simple will cause many of you to forget or unwillingly ignore it at some point. And that’s paying attention and being supportive.
Well, you might say that you always pay attention and support your partner whenever you can. But do you really?
In order to support someone you need to always know what they are up to. And I don’t mean this in a stalking and obsessing way. (Seriously, give your partner space to breathe).
I mean it on an emotional and spiritual level. You need to ask yourself if you know all or most of the time, how he or she is feeling. If there is anything on their mind or even if they need support but didn’t dare to ask yet. And of course, it does help knowing what they work on at the moment, if they deal with some particularly difficult issue with their family or if they just had a bad dream. But always respect their privacy in this process. You eat together, cuddle and have sex but respecting privacy is a very important thing to remember.
My fiancée was actually remarkably good at this. She even noticed that I was feeling a bit stressed and off when I didn’t even realize it myself and that’s is an impressive cognitive ability to have. We have amazing abilities built in our senses to catch slightest variations in tone, mimics and even tiniest movements of someone’s eyes. It’s something you should try to pay attention to and you probably won’t ever get as good at it as her but it’s important to understand what is going on and that is something you can actively control.
So what do you do exactly when you notice that something is wrong or that you partner is approaching a rather stressful episode in life?
When you finally managed to notice that something is not okay, first thing you do is not starting to ask questions or blasting “what’s wrong???” through your phone or immediately hitting them with what you assume might be wrong. Man, if you want to fuck it up really badly you start getting pissed because you assume the your partner is pissed about something you did. And then you’re basically a moron. You don’t want to be a moron. I watched this behavior a lot of times in especially younger or less educated couples and it’s threatening and toxic. It’s the equivalent of breaching the door while someone is half naked in the bathroom crying and trying to shower. It’s not nice.
Instead what you want to do is softly knocking at the door.
You do that with small gestures of affection which are actually not too different from their good-mood-counterparts. It’s small things like carefully hugging your partner from behind and asking if they are okay. Or just giving them a soft shoulder-rub when you notice them sigh or take a short break from exhaustion. Even a cup of tea with a snack and a smile can do the trick to show that you noticed and that you care and that sometimes doesn’t even require any more words.
If you find yourself in a long distance relationship, then being close to each other and working with gestures can get really difficult. Here is the trick to find good timing and good wording to approach an issue. If you know your partner, you will know when and how to approach it because if you’ve been dating long distance chances are high, that you spent most of the time talking and getting to know each other and this is one of the most valuable things you gain from this kind of relationships. People who dated long distance for multiple years usually have a really strong connection to each other and know more about their counterpart, than some people who lived together for a decade.
So when you knock and it’s not working then you’re better off waiting until your partner brings it up him or herself. There is no point in kicking in a door when nobody wants to open it in the first place.
That’s it. That’s the knocking. When you softly knock a door and someone is home, what will happen?
Well there are two options, either someone opens the door or nobody opens the door.
And both of them can be transitioned into the reaction of your partner. Many will actually open the door and even meet you with a smile because well, you noticed or showed them a loving gesture. Then usually they might start to open up and tell you what’s wrong and maybe it’s even something to do with you that they were too afraid to bring up but now that you showed a sign of goodwill, chances are high that they will take the chance and talk to you whatever might be on their mind. Well, the second option is that they notice but choose not to talk about it still. This is where it gets a bit more complicated and this can have various psychological reasons I don’t really want to talk about right now but the very basic idea of it is, that they simply aren’t ready to talk about it yet. And that’s a lot harder to accept and respect that one might think. Because this won’t really leave you alone. It will keep grinding your gears and make you feel anxious and uncertain for as long as it takes until they decide to talk to you about it and man, that feeling is horrible. Particularly insecure and sensitive people will have this issue far more often than others because of their remarkable ability to catch reactions and emotions much better than others. That’s why they are almost always worried that something is wrong or that they did something wrong and many people find this annoying or unattractive but on a psychological and spiritual level these people are the most precious and valuable you can find because they are extremely good at working with emotion, noticing trouble and providing emotional support whenever necessary. These people are worth more than gold and if you are lucky enough to date someone like this, then you better never let them go. You better give them the constant reassurance and empathy they need and you don’t want to hurt them because of all types of personalities, these get hurt the worst.
So if you realize that you are in fact dating someone like this, reassurance and empathy plays an extremely important key role in how you approach them in your relationship. In fact, that counts for every kind of personality you might find yourself dating but it especially applies to them. And that one is as easy as it is unfortunately not obvious to many. If you notice that they did something good, you tell them. You tell them that you noticed and that you were very impressed by what they did and that you want to keep them doing that. Do you have any idea how good that feels?
Man, if you really love someone you go and do that and you pay attention to their reaction. But that doesn’t only apply for good things they did. If they are upset you show – as discussed farther above – that you notice and that you care. If they approach you about a bad dream they had or about something you did wrong, then you god damn let them know that you care and that you’re sorry and you walk them through this until they feel better. And I’m especially stressing this one because this is where most of you will get into trouble. Because you may feel the need to get defensive. When you get defensive you start to discuss the facts. When you discuss the facts you will find yourself in the opposition and this will ultimately lead to an argument. And this is pretty much the opposite of what you want to achieve when you notice your partner being in a bad place.
And this is not easy. If you are not lucky enough to be naturally good at it then you will have to work on this. You will have to work on approaching these situations and if you love and care about your partner you will realize that this is of crucial importance for how the rest of your relationship will turn out to be.
Jesus, this thing got far longer than I wanted it to be but you know what? That is okay. Because I think that there are still many more things to consider and pay attention to and something like this should be much, much longer. And there are full blown books and book series on this. But my inspiration to write this focused on the things you just read in particular, simply because I failed at many of them in my relationship even though I used to believe I was good at relationships and that caused me to needing to let someone go who was perhaps the most valuable and precious partner I ever had in my life. And man, if you are responsible for them leaving and you really loved them, then you’re in hell. And good luck getting out of there.
So the last thing I want to stress is, learn how to love. And most of you will say that they know how to love. You love their partner all the time. And this might be true on some mental level. But knowing how to love includes every situation, every time you interact with your partner or with anyone else. Every thought you have, every step you make and every decision you agree on. No matter if you are alone or together, far away from each other or living in the same room, just dating or married for twenty years. Your partner is always there. And every word you speak, every action you decide to take and every thought you have has some impact on your and therefor on their life. Everything has consequences, everything. So always listen. Stay respectful. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Pay attention. Show support. Show empathy. Apologize. Don’t start unnecessary arguments. And if you always consider love, truth and care – no matter the outcome, it will be the right thing.
Good luck and hug your partner tight. They can leave faster than you think.
Thanks for reading.