A few weeks ago, my mother and I spent an evening bonding and watching the Olympics. Japan beat Germany in women's table tennis to advance to the final four, while the women's badminton team lost to China to take home the silver.
Both games were unexpectedly fantastic and I loved watching them. But what struck me most was the teamwork that I saw within the Japanese teams.
As I watched the badminton team and the doubles' table tennis team, it became evident that they communicated far more than the Chinese and German teams, respectively.
Now, I'm in Japan, so obviously there was far more focus on the Japanese teams than those of the other countries. But even so, I was surprised by how little the other pairs spoke to each other. Almost every time a point was scored, the Japanese pairs were speaking to each other, strategizing and encouraging. In contrast, of the times that the foreign pairs were shown, the Chinese pair talked to each other a few times and the German team not at all.
Sure, Japan lost and won one match, but Japanese Olympians have surprised me time and again with their exemplary focus on working with their teammates towards a common goal, and this was just another example.
Such an observation wouldn't normally lead me to think about relationships. But when you write as many posts a week as I do for Datingish, relationships are often at the forefront of your mind.
We like to think that the Olympics are about sportsmanship and friendly competition, and it is. But the Olympics are most focused on winning. Why else would we so herald the gold medal winners and keep track of each nations' medal count?
But even at the Olympics, at least in sports like badminton and table tennis, teamwork is essential. You can't be the best team in the world without focusing on that team aspect. You can't rush on by yourself, because you can't win by yourself. You have to work together, put your ego aside, and focus on each other as well as winning.
Which I think is a fitting, if admittedly simplistic, metaphor for relationships. People tend to be inherently selfish, and it's often tough to reconcile different ideas and beliefs and ways of living. But if you do so while compromising and focusing on your mutual goal of staying together, you can.
It may not be a gold medal, but I'd take a lifetime of happiness over that any day.
What do you think? Any other surprising relationship lessons from the Olympics?