Have you ever wondered why you are friends with some people but not others? I always had a theory for that. From my observation, friends fell in at least one of two categories:
They have traits which you find highly admirable such as their attitude, knowledge, wisdom or behavior and you would like to learn these parts from them or just be around them to compliment your weaknesses.
You feel comfortable with them because they share your own traits and they also do not put any pressure on your weaknesses such as “pressing your buttons”. Or you find them challenging in some respects and you feel like being close to them can help you grow.
It was obvious to me that friendships and relationships were not random but were very much linked to the mental state of the people involved. We subconsciously select people based on certain criteria which are elusive to us because most people do not examine their lives in depth.
Ask yourself why your own friendships worked and why others disappeared. Why do you want to spend every day with one person now but in a few years you are fine with seeing them only once a month? What changes have occurred that would explain this shift?
How Do We Select Partners?
Relationships follow the same principles as friendships with the addition of sexual attraction which significantly alters the accuracy of finding a good partner. This is also the reason why ex-partners tend to not remain in contact while “ex-friends” will always be friends. This sexual attraction is different for both sexes but in its essence, the selection process is the same.
Let’s go through the selection process starting from the highest contributing factors to the lowest:
60% Geography: You will choose a partner who is close to you. If they are not in the same city or country then you will likely never meet them. We can talk all we want about love but proximity is the number one contributor to any romantic relationship.
20% Age: The person must be in the right age class. Women are usually ok with a very broad age spectrum while men prefer younger women but if your prospective partner is under 15 or above 60 while you are 25 then this will likely exclude them from any future relationship.
15% Attraction: Men like young and beautiful women while women like men who make them feel great. If you meet your soul mate and they are grossly overweight or are depressed and psychotic then you will likely give them a pass.
5% Personality: Personality is the last part in partner selection for both men and women because while women often name personality traits as attractive, it is not actually what they desire but just shows a lack of insight into their own desires. E.g. If a woman says that she likes a man because of his humor then could she imagine a man with a better sense of humor who is less attractive? The answer is usually yes, so humor cannot be what she actually finds attractive. She seeks emotions which is just as superficial as a man seeking a beautiful body. Values, thoughts, habits and ideas are usually not what attracts us to a man or a woman.
If you look at this hierarchy of partner selection then you can see that the actual personality of a person, e.g. their values, thoughts, believes and desires, is almost unimportant. In fact, we select our romantic partners mostly based on superficial factors and the parts that would allow for long-lasting relationships (personality) are only an afterthought.
But still, if a couple manages to get lucky and actually hook up with someone who happens to fit into their friend-selection criteria (points 1 and 2 above – personality) then it is possible to have a healthy relationship (if that is your goal).
The Danger of Relationships
There is one big problem in both relationships and friendships. As I have listed above, you can either decide to learn from other people or decide to just be around them to compliment your own weakness (point 1). You can also choose to be with them because it is comfortable or you can be with them because its challenging (point 2).
You see, for both points, there are two different ways of interacting with another person. One is with an attitude of dependency and shielding yourself from growth and the other is with an attitude of challenge while seeking growth.
The problem with relationships is that almost all people seek a shielding mindset which stops them from growing. They implement their partners into their life and then they are relieved that they never have to work on their immaturities which have haunted then while they were single. Even worse, they then “work” on their relationships and call this growth. Their “challenge” is to deal with a partner instead of ridding themselves from immaturities.
Can You Grow With Your Partner?
The idea to grow with your partner is a silly one if you think about it. It’s like waking up in the morning and saying that you will go to work in your blanket today because it’s too cold to get dressed. Nobody would do that because we realize that once we have let go of comfort, we can get dressed and be more ourselves instead of dreamy and sleepy. Relationships make us dreamy and sleepy by giving us comfort and security. Do you disagree? Then just break up with your partner tomorrow and see if you still feel the same.
We do not realize how much influence another person has on us just by being close. We are unable to see all the parts of us that become hidden by the soothing comfort of another person. We unconsciously start hiding our immaturities but the way to deal with them is to bring them out into the open and deal with them so that they don’t expand.
Compared to a friendship, relationships also have the additional danger of being so intimate that we can put our immaturities on our partner with more confidence. We know that our partner will not be leaving us anytime soon so we integrate them into our emotional life which is also why breakups are always so difficult. It’s like surgically removing vital organs (in an emotional sense).
Why Do Relationships Stop Me From Growing?
Relationships will render you unable to fix common immaturities such as:
An inability to be truly alone and happy without comfortable friends or partners
A feeling of inadequacy in response to the opposite sex and rejection
A feeling of pride related to your own personal growth because whatever flaws you see in yourself in relationships, much more is being hidden
To say that these factors do not influence you is like saying that your mood is unaffected by the weather or by your food intake. We are all human and we are all affected by absolutely everything.
Relationships Hide Your Immaturities
Relationships are shielding critical immaturities but there is a way to relate to the opposite sex without sacrificing your own personal growth. Here is the best strategy to build a relationship while keeping all of your immaturities to your self and in the open:
Always be aware of the hierarchy of finding a partner:
Proximity comes first: No long distance relationships because this will remove all sexual tension
Attraction: We never stop looking for other partners even when in a happy relationship, that’s our nature. Be aware why your partner found you attractive in the first place and vice versa, then make sure both you and your partner uphold these features at all times. Do not get lazy in your appearance and in the way you treat your partner
Personality: Be aware that your personality will change if you fix your immaturities (or become more immature) and that you might stop being interested in your partner (and vice versa) at some point. Be honest about it and break up once you realize it.
Distance: Your immaturities will attach to the people closest to you so you must have enough space to be alone, often. Do not have unwritten rules such as spending each night together or going to certain events together? Make everything a date. If you want to meet then you need to call or text each other. Take nothing for granted and make sure your partner does not either. Your time is always yours Do not live together unless you want to have kids.
Prioritize Growth and Not Comfort
The best way to deal with relationships is to focus on the first 3 steps of partner selection (Geography, Age, Attraction) and to not become overly obsessed with the last part (Personality) because you must realize that your personality and the attraction for other peoples personalities will change over time as you address your own immaturities. If you do not respect this then you will end up with a partner whos personality will be less then ideal in your thirties and forties. If you do respect this then the growth you will experience and the skill in relating to the opposite sex will be immeasurable.
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