We strolled along the riverbank, squinting from the bright afternoon sun. Only one of us had the forethought to bring sunglasses, the other (me) cast my gaze downwards as we navigated rocky terrain.
As was usual when we got together, the subject of dating made its way into our conversation. I was with a friend, he in his thirties, me about to be turning thirty, and we often shared laughs over the first date experiences we shared with one another, sometimes frightening.
This conversation was a little different, however, as it shifted to what we thought constituted a successful relationship.
“If you get married and it lasts,” he said, quite confidently.
I shook my head.
“No, no. It doesn’t have to last forever to be a success. I’ve known couples that have stayed together, although miserable, just to appease others. I wouldn’t call that a success.”
After debating for a while, we agreed to disagree, as we normally did, and parted ways for the evening. But the question of the successful relationship stuck in my head.
On my way home, I stopped at a park to have a little stroll, while I pondered some of my past relationships. “Failure, failure, success, failure.” I wasn’t exactly sure how I was grading them, but I seemed quite sure that I had it right.
Then it dawned on me.
A relationship isn’t a failure if it doesn’t last forever. If there is love; if there is laughter; if there is the feeling of a true partner in the other, I consider that a success. It is only once the relationship turns hostile, when you are so sure the other person is not on your team, that I would ever deem it a failure.
It is not in how long it lasts, but rather the quality of the relationship as it went through its stages. Sure, I realize every couple has their ups and downs. I know that at times you have to fight for it. I know that putting in the effort can at sometimes seem like a chore, only to have the payoff appear when you least expect it.
But I also know when to call it. I know when you have given so much of yourself, that if you gave anymore, you would lose every part of you.
But to walk away from it when you know it’s time, after three, eight, or even twenty years, that is not a failure. It is knowing when the relationship no longer serves the both of you, that you can move on and continue to grow on your own.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend,