Partners

Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes people last, what makes people compatible with one another. What is the secret ingredient to long-lasting love and a half-century of happiness together?

My parents split up a few years ago, yet they carry on as if nothing really changed. Daddy comes home for dinner and they both sit on the couch to watch Vietnamese dramas. Next week, they’re going on a cruise together. While I have gotten over the shock of their split, I wonder why they did it in the first place if they are still doing things together, still seeing each other, still acting like companions with one another. Their relationship confuses me; divorce should mean that while they can still be friendly and civil with one another, in a sense, they should be apart. They should spend less time with each other and considering I’m the only child left in the house and I already know about the split, it’s not as if they need to keep up the pretense.

I was trying to think about the type of relationship that you need to have with your partner in order to make it work. How vulnerable can you be? Should this other person be someone with whom you can be your most vulnerable and still feel supported? Can there really be a “no secrets” relationship? Can this person still love me despite the darkest moments of my life? Is this person willing to do the same? To share their inner darknesses with me, to be vulnerable with me, to allow me to nurture their pain?

Is it bigger than vulnerability? Is it trust? Love? Compatibility? Companionship? All of the above and more? Does the relationship work because you make each other happy? Or because you are two individuals who have found another outlet of support and really enjoy each other’s support? Is it a “needs” relationship – I need you; you need me? Or is it – I don’t need you to function and survive in life, but I really, really, really, really like that you are in my life?

What do I want? What am I looking for? What are the qualities of a relationship that I am willing and not willing to negotiate? What is important to me? And are my needs compatible with his?