Ask not what your relationship can do for you…

shopping for labels? shopping for love?

When it comes to finding a mate, we all have long shopping lists. We have lists of superficial things we prefer (ex. he should be tall and work at Goldman), of values we want matched (he should like children and vote Democrat), and of qualities we think we need (he should be financially sound and be able to make me laugh).

But let’s not forget what we’re really after when we set out to find love everlasting…

What we really want is a travel companion or biking-buddy, fellow Trekkie or like minded museum-junkie, congenial Scrabble adversary or able party co-host. In short, what we’re really looking for is a teammate.

Everyone knows the cliche “there’s no ‘I’ in TEAM,” and anyone whose played a sport or watched a professional franchise win a championship knows what makes a team successful: synergy.  One person makes up for the short-comings of the other, while both foster and bolster each others’ talents. Yes, a successful team is whole that is greater that the sum of its parts, and love-based relationships are no different.

That being said, when it comes to finding the Misty May Treanor to your Kerri Walsh, or the Jorge Posada to your Mariano Rivera,  it’s important to have a grasp not only on what they bring to the relationship, but also on what you can or can’t provide in this partnership. I’m not necessarily prescribing a selfless “ask not what your relationship can do for you, ask what you can do for your relationship” approach to a new flame — that’s extremely dangerous territory in which to tread. But I do think it a worthwhile exercise to evaluate, as objectively as possible, your strengths and weaknesses as 1/2 of a couple.

I suppose, if I prescribe, I should take the first does:

My greatest strength as both a friend and lover is my loyalty. I’m an excellent and sincere cheerleader who will always be there on the sidelines ready to help you up after a bad game.

My greatest weakness? I want to me my own person. To some (read: a select few), my independent, stand on my own feet, “this is who I am, this is what I want and I’m going to get it”  attitude is attractive. But it’s often my biggest relationship roadblock. I have no doubt that my athletic aspirations and career goals have dead-ended several potentially awesome romances. For a long time, I simply wasn’t available enough to be someone’s girlfriend. Yet, while I may have more time in my schedule for dates and weekend getaways, I still refuse to subjugate my ambitions to those of someone else. Sorry, but I want Glen Lowry’s job, and I’m not going to get it if I have to move to Oklahoma with you.

In coming to terms with my relationship shortcoming, it seems I’ve found the critical, must-have quality on my significant-other shopping list: allows me to be independent.

I guess I don’t sound like too much of a team player, do I? That’s not entirely fair. Compromises will be made by both me and my mister, because at the end of the day, if I get to be my own person, so does he. The challenge is finding someone whose goals happen to be compatible with mine…and I don’t just mean retiring early to a villa in Tuscany.

10 thoughts on “Ask not what your relationship can do for you…

  1. I agree with “there’s no ‘I’ in the team”…. after quite sometime I realized that being part of a team, it’s the “WE” that is more important..

  2. John Paul

    Every team has a superstar, a captain, a leader whose opinion and decisions are the driving force of the entire franchise, group, partnership, and etc. I totally agree that good relationships are complimentary, but in the end someone has to be the captain; we cannot all be chiefs. If you put two successful people together that are constantly striving for individual success, you have the classic ‘paper-power’ couple. You know the type, the man and women are 100% perfect on paper but they live such separate lives that sex is scheduled and on a timer. Eventually someone has to see staying home with the kids as important as landing the next book deal…

  3. I am completely with you. And then I moved to Santa Barbara, where the girls are all “daisy dukes, bikinis on top” and the guys are all surfer-dudes. It’s like shopping for love, but the only store is Forever21.

  4. I agree with you, with one small caveat: why is independence a weakness? Yes, I understand SOME of your reasoning – to a degree (I am not moving to Oklahoma, either). But – not enough to call it a “weakness” across the board (I can see how it would negatively affect SOME relationships, but not how it is YOUR weakness). I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen enough co-dependency in my life, and I do not want a relationship with someone who wants that. In my opinion, it seems like people who are their own selves, and who cherish that about their partner, would make for better relationships – because their built on that knowledge of one another, as well as things genuinely in common.

    (I do appreciate how much more difficult that would be to find. Hell, I don’t care. My definition of a “soulmate”.)

    I don’t know – I feel like many so people mold themselves into “the other half”… or change themselves in order to just have a warm body in bed. And, because we’re supposed to be committed in this society by a certain age, we feel a lot of pressure to find a relationship, as opposed to finding ourselves – and someone who appreciates that.

    I’m just wondering… is the knee-jerk impulse to file independence under “weakness” say something about society and single women? About something subconscious in how we view ourselves – even when we WANT to be independent and, on the surface, love that?


    1. Kathleen

      Really, I don’t see independence as a “weakness” — but I do believe men, even if they don’t admit it, view it as such. Sure we have R&B and hip-hoppers singing about how sexy Miss Independent is, but I’ve run into more men who expect the woman to be accessible and subsume her goals than men who are willing to play second fiddle. Truth is, we haven’t moved too far ahead of the more corseted days. Why do I have to be the one that stops worrying about my next book deal to take care of the kiddos?

      my parents have been married 48 years and whenever someone asks one of them how they made it so long, my mother always says: because we let each other be our own people.

      A balanced relationship, where both parties get to be themselves and stand on equal footing is hard to find. Some how my parents figured it out… and if they can do it, well then, bygoneit, so can we.

      1. Agreed. Completely.

        But just to make my point (ol stick in the mud over here): it’s interesting to note that “independence” was, in fact, stated as your “greatest weakness’.

        While I think you and I are on the same page on this… isn’t it interesting how we discuss it, how we put it out there, how we express it? I’m using this as an example – I think women do things like this (take what we think is good, and say it’s not – because of some other influence, be it boys or society) all. The. Time.

        It’s something we should stop doing.

      2. Kathleen

        In full agreement!

        Someone told me once never to lead with self-deprecation… good advice for all the ladies out there I think.

  5. graci8807

    THis is a really nice thought!

    I’d like to comment first on a few of the comments that don’t find ‘indepence’ as a weakness. I think to a certain degree, I agree with you, it can be a weakness. Many times we call on independence to cover up selfish desires/wants/needs.

    Whatever happened to compromise? (which you mentioned, of course)
    Yes, I understand that women (and people in general) should have more options and choices to do what they want and strive for it. Yes, I understand and COMPLETELY agree that we should NEVER change ourselves to suit other people. However, I don’t think it would hurt us to give in once or twice or A LOT!!! I mean yes, there would be risks, but what things in life don’t?

    As for your thoughts regarding ‘moving to Oklahoma with “him”,’ I got a lot of thoughts to share. I think that though the guy plays a great influence, this decision solely depends on you on whether or not you’re willing to give something up for a relationship.

    When my dad decided to move to Thailand to be a missionary, my mom willingly gave up her job as an assistant faculty chairman (i think, or was it assistant dean??) in the university (one of the top nursing schools in the country at that time), packed the bags, readied us kids, and left the country. No looking back and I’ve never heard a single regret.
    For the most part of the next decade or so, she happily played the role of a housewife and a stay at home mom, even though she is a California-qualified Registered nurse and has a Masters degree.
    It was her choice. She is severely independent (if she has it in mind to cook for 70 people for lunch the next day, no way anyone’s stopping her) and self-sufficient (I doubt our family would fare very well without her) and strong (never met another woman who handles full-time career and housewife duty as efficiently as she does. she’s past 50 btw.)

    I guess what I’m saying is, when someone gives something up for a relationship, specifically his/her independence, it doesn’t necessarily make him/her weak-willed or whatever negative connotations that idea brings, it makes him/her a different person. it’s just a risk one takes in hopes that it would make him/her for a his/her ideal future.

    I guess maybe the question is also, does one want to be in a relationship or not? Do we need romantic relationships to be happy?
    Of course not!
    Some people however, think otherwise.
    But for those who need that bed warmer and companion in the nursing home, he/she has to be willing to make a lot of changes and compromise.

    Personally, I just have to wait, be patient and search long and hard for that person worthy of enough of compromise!


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