Until we are willing to accept potential disappointment and heartache, having close relationships can be perilous. A willingness to tolerate loss helps us to embrace the risks and joys of love. In addition to the obvious possibility that the relationship might end or a partner might die, a degree of loss exists even when a relationship endures.
Ironically, a LACK of change in the partners also results in loss. Predictability and stagnancy cause a loss of vitality and interest in the relationship.
Imagine ten or fifteen years of marriage and raising children, when one partner decides to take up mountain climbing or go back to school for a master’s degree. Fearful of change, the other partner may feel threatened. “What do you need to do that for? It’s expensive and a waste of time,” may be his or her reaction.
Fear of how the partner will handle change might cause the would-be climber or graduate student to avoid trying a new path. As a result of maintaining the status quo, there’s a loss of growth for the individual and richness for the relationship. Resentment and regret replace possibility and dreams.
Change in a partner causes a loss of the comfort and security the partners have become used to. Yet, the upside is that the relationship can develop excitement and richness by means of the individuals’ growth.
If we approach love and friendship with the understanding that there will be loss, we can avoid the regrets and lost vitality that comes from living in the clutches of fear.
Climbing up the rugged mountain of relationship takes courage but it is well worth it. Rather than following the same well-worn path, we might create new paths and find new vistas.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD