I am sitting on my couch on this chilly February evening with a motorcycle helmet enclosing my skull – the smell of a new purchase lingers around my head. The smothered feeling is due to a general lack of oxygen in the areas near my face. When I am outdoors, it will be infinitely better and I will feel safe rather than suppressed.
Why am I breaking in a new helmet by wearing it well outside of its normal context? It’s because, come spring, I want to have my own equipment for getting my motorcycle license. This, in turn, begs a deeper question: why at 25 years old do I have a sudden and inexplicable interest in motorcycles?
The reason is sitting next to me – my boyfriend. Sure, for years, my family has talked about cars and motorcycles. Now that I’m dating someone who lives and breathes the motorcycle lifestyle, I am pursuing it as a hobby.
Does that mean I am no longer my own person, now that I am in a relationship?
I say, no. I enjoy learning new hobbies and new things from people. I think it is beneficial to have new goals – I am separate, with all of my past experiences and thoughts, but I am also an active participant in the building of more diverse experiences with another person.
I often worry that I am changing with time, in a negative way. I think that most people do. We worry that we are getting older, becoming less cool, putting on weight, ‘losing our touch’, and so on. I am astounded at how many of our favorite fictitious plot lines revolve around people who find out that this is in fact a complete myth – they are still cool, physically competent, and they have knowledge that others desire, even as life changes and they grow with it.
So many of these insecurities also influence our relationships. We want someone who makes us look cooler, perhaps, or we have expectations for how the other person in our life will support our individual goals.
Collectively, we also love the drama created by the failure of a relationship. Who cheated on whom? The stories are pasted all over the tabloids in the lives of the stars, the figures we look up to and try to emulate, consciously or unconsciously. There may also be lessons for all of us to learn in the vicious crash and burn of a formerly loving situation.
I have had a few reflections recently about building better relationships. These thoughts are presented here for your consideration (sans external references, as these are just my musings):
1. Don’t over think it. Let yourself feel; relationships are for the emotional fulfillment of you as a person. If you are constantly thinking and worrying over your interactions with your significant other, it may be time to move on or reevaluate your general mentality towards life. You should feel relatively uninhibited with the person that you are sharing yourself with emotionally and physically.
2. Communicate freely and jointly. There are two parts to this – communicating freely means being open and honest with your partner. Communicating jointly means that you both listen and speak – it is not an unbalanced state of sharing. You must also listen without judgment to truly hear what the other is saying.
3. Be happy. This is perhaps the most challenging thing for a relationship, because it comes from within you as an individual person. Time after time, my boyfriend tells me what a pleasure it is to hang out with me when I’m happy. It is impossible to be happy all the time, granted, but it helps not to be sorrowful, negative, or down hearted about things on a day-to-day basis. A happy spirit and cheerful disposition (always looking for a bright side to a situation) will positively benefit you as an individual and strengthen the joy you find in relationships.
I have removed my helmet now, and have it tucked by my leg possessively. I see my new found hobby not as an external imposition, but as an exciting goal that could lead me to new discoveries about myself and the world around me. Life offers up many opportunities for growth, and a relationship can be a great motivating force in one’s life – if you don’t over think your interactions with your partner, communicate regularly and fairly, and look towards the bright side of life!