It takes two people to have a relationship. In what seems like an ideal situation, those people work together to create the terms on which they interact, and to define how their relationship works.
In reality, though, that’s almost never the case. We happen into friendships through circumstance, we follow a cultural patterns for dating interactions, we have coworkers and metamours and family members that we don’t get to choose, but have to make the best of.
There are plenty of situations where one person wants something different from the relationship than their partner does. Sometimes, the resolution is easy: Let’s break up! Or, stop drunk dialing me! Or, I’d like to ask you on a date. The other partner can say,”I’m sad about breaking up!” Or “No, thanks, I don’t want to go on a date with you.” That’s an easy situation (relatively – breakups and date rejection are not actually easy, just straightforward).
On the other hand, what do you do when one person wants something different from the existing structure of the relationship, and their partner isn’t on board? Whose desires should take precedence? To be clear, I mean this in a situation where no one is in danger, where people just want conflicting things: if two family members want to run their shared relationship differently, who gets to decide?
Where do we change gears from “siblings because of the circumstances of our family” to “friends because of our choice?” When does the need a child communicates take precedence over the way a parent wants to take care of them?
How do you start a conversation with a partner about this? What do you do when they won’t hear it?
I started this post out with the idea that I had some kind of answer, but I don’t think I do. In so many of the relationships that I have with people, I can have these conversations, we can talk honestly, but it’s not always the case. Have you been here, wanting something from a relationship that you just can’t get? How to do you handle it?
image courtesy daftgirly