What exactly is a relationship meant to be like? Is it just a guy and a girl agreeing to be together, share things together and at the same time enjoy their individual lives OR a couple dedicating themselves to each other while looking at the long term implications.
These thoughts came to me after two different chats I had. The first lady I was discussing with had a friend who was getting married. During the course of the discourse, she mentioned that she didn’t know why her friend was in a rush to get married as she is still quite young at about 22. Then I asked if age had to be a determining factor for marriage and she actually said not really. She said she understands that age doesn’t determine maturity, which is required to handle the marriage setting, but she was not ready jump from under her parents’ authority straight to submission to one man. She emphasised that she had to enjoy spinsterhood.
Next I was ‘bbm-ing’ with my half-sis who stays in Abuja and I asked about the guy I saw on her display picture. She said he was just a friend, then I made a joke that I was wondering if she had gotten married without letting us know. Her reply was that it’s not possible, as she still has to enjoy her time as a single before going to be subdued in marriage. We eventually had long chat with me stating the case I’m bringing here.
Now, both ladies are in relationships, which made me ask the questions I put forth at the beginning of this post. My main observation from these is that ladies (and probably guys too) want to enjoy being single while still in a relationship, which brings the question, what is really there to enjoy in being single if you are already in a relationship?
First if all, let me do a breakdown of common relationship statuses (facebook style):
1. Single: This status means you’re not attached to anyone in any form of mutual agreement. You’re available to potential suitors or to pick potential partners. You can do what you like as you not ‘answerable’ to anyone (in terms of a partner).
2. In a Relationship: This status means you’re with someone with whom you agreed on some mutual arrangements. Both of you have committed one to the other and have decided to share ideas, feelings, thoughts, plans and more, with each other. The strength of relationships is often determined by the level to which both sides are able to open up to each other. Here, I won’t say an ‘Open Relationship’ qualifies as a true one, as partners agree on some form of independence which will most likely not let the relationship grow.
3. Engaged: This is when partners have taken the relationship to the point of commitment. They have both agreed to take the long haul and are, therefore, in the final stages of finetuning their attitudes, characters, strengths and weaknesses to fit each other. By this time, they already understand each other almost perfectly.
4. Married: This means they have finally sealed the deal. There is no room for ‘escape’ (except for divorce, which is not commonplace where I come from), so you’re both in a spot where you just have to make it work. Ideally, it is not supposed to be too hard as you should both already understand each other, so the new challenges that come with marriage should be the main issues for you to tackle.
Anyway, to avoid too much digression, my main focus is on Singles and Pre-engagement Relationships. To make my point clear, I think everyone deserves the freedom that comes with being single. Whatever you do, you’re not really hurting anyone. You can party how you want, go out with whoever you want without thinking too much about it, sleep anywhere you want, go wherever want and do lots of things just the way you want. It’s always a great time in the life of a young person and could be necessary most times for you to understand yourself.
Now, the moment you choose to be in a relationship, you have consciously accepted the fact that you have to consider the other person in whatever actions you’re going to take. All the ‘whatevers’, ‘wherevers’, ‘whoevers’ and ‘howevers’ will have to drop gradually, except you don’t value the person you’re with, in which case you’re better off being single.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a relationship is supposed to be a forced ‘ball and chain’, I’m just saying that to have a quality relationship, the people involved should be willing to make sacrifices for each other. As a guy, you might have a lot of female friends you like to hang out with. You play a lot, touching, hugging and sometimes sharing friendly kisses. No lady will sit down and watch her man doing all these things and not feel enraged. This simply means that once you’re in a relationship, out of respect for your lady, you have to stop the silly games. Same goes for the ladies.
There might be one or two friends from the opposite sex you’re very close to. As a single, you can actually hang out with them without any issues. Once you’re in a relationship, your partner has to be able to trust them to allow such. This means you have to let your partner know them in person and relate with them well enough not to be agitated when he/she hears you’re with them. It doesn’t mean a restriction of association, it only builds better relationships.
On the flip side, being in a relationship doesn’t give either partner any right to shackle the other. You’re allowed to make objective assessments but you don’t have to force any form of change. Except you’re forced into a relationship that you can’t get out from, you should be able to check the person you’re with and determine if he/she is just senselessly trying to restrict you or he/she is making meaningful observations about the people you relate with, the places you go to, your appearance and stuff like that. They always say ‘A broken relationship is far better than a broken marriage’, and I agree totally. If you feel you’re being unnecessarily restrained, make your feelings known and walk away if no change is forthcoming. Believe me, if he/she doesn’t change while you’re dating, no changes will come if you eventually get married.
Trust is the basis of very strong relationships and it is only built when there’s openness (which requires communication) and respect for each partner’s feelings and values. If trust is sufficient, relationships, even through to marriage, will afford each person the respectable amount of freedom each requires without hurting the other person.
Therefore, I ask again, why would you strive to enjoy being single if you’re already in a (meaningful) relationship? If you have things you’re hiding from your partner or you just don’t give a damn about how he/she feels, then you shouldn’t be in that relationship. Try to consider being on your own until you’re ready to take the bold step of sharing your life with someone else.
On a final note, I’m an advocate of Relationship-to-Marriage, so I think you should try entering a relationship with the mind of pushing it to the marriage end. It should help your commitment level and also help you determine if the person you’re with currently is worth it. Relationships shouldn’t always be started with a ‘Trial-and-Error’ mindset. If it doesn’t work out in the end, you should both be able to understand and agree that it’s better that way. Just my thotz, anyway.
Thank you for reading through. Share your thoughts, if you please.
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