Saturday, 24 September 2011
For whatever reason, the Gods of Love or the Gods of Torture have made the “bad relationship” an inevitable part of this whole life thing. You’ve seen friends go through it. And you’ve been in the relationship yourself. Perhaps you knew when you started dating that it was, plain and simple, a terrible idea. You had nothing in common. He threw a spitball at your senile grandmother the first time you brought him to a family dinner (true story). He stole money and lied about where he was. He hated “Star Wars” (what kind of person hates “Star Wars”?)
Does it make us all sado-masochists? Does it make us all total foolish shmucks? Eh, maybe, but that’s not the point of this article.
I’ve dished out plenty of guff to friends dating a jerk, and I too have been in “unpopular” relationships (unpopular is a polite term for the reaction to some of my boyfriends; I am pretty certain interventions and rallies were being organized in protest of some of them). It is easy to get frustrated when we can so easily see our friends’ relationships with objectivity, and don’t want to listen to yet another dating horror story from someone we care about.
But, instead, I’d like to defend the relationships that are so easy to write off. Because, unless we are talking about abusive relationships, bad relationships are an incredible opportunity for growth.
I dated a guy once who was completely pleasant, easy to be around, and a generally nice human being. Our break up was amicable and we can still be friends. But that relationship was such a blip, and I consider it a waste of time. There was no passion or love, and we felt nothing for each other beyond a vague sense of warmth. It meant nothing to either of us, ultimately.
But all of my terrible relationships are the ones I have sincerely grown from. There was the guy who was a quantifiable genius yet overwhelmingly pretentious; he taught me that I appreciate someone with an intellect, but also need a man with a sense of grace and humility. The guy who hated social events, interacting with my friends and family, and would sit through entire meals in the kind of silence monks would envy--he was the same guy who taught me that I need a person who finds genuine joy interacting with other people and can hold a conversation. Were these relationships hell? Yes! Were my friends annoyed every time I complained? Absolutely!
But like anything in life, we do not grow unless we have experienced some negativity, and dating people with a variety of qualities can help us narrow down what we really are looking for, for better or worse.
What is the most important thing you have learned from your bad relationships? And how do you cope with friends who are in the midst of bad relationships?