You Have to Work at It

One of the lies that fiction has promulgated is that your one true love is waiting out in the world somewhere, and that this person is a perfect match for you. You need only to find them, then ride off into the sunset for your “happily ever after…” This is a destructive and dangerous conceit.

The truth is, even the best relationships between the most naturally compatible people are the result of a lot of hard work by both parties and a great investment of patience. People, being different, require a lot of interpretive conversation to establish a common vocabulary and syntax with each other. Cultural and educational backgrounds contribute to a certain worldview that is unique to each individual, and these worldviews don’t translate automatically. It’s up to both partners to present their worlds to each other, and find a commonality that lets them share in it together.
Personal expressions, colloquialisms, mannerisms and speech patterns are also unique, and arise from family and geographical origins. A turn of phrase or a joke to one person may be completely misinterpreted by another, but that’s where patience comes in. In any interpersonal relationship, a degree of patience is required to manage these missteps and educate each other about what does and doesn’t get communicated well.
Even when the background, upbringing and education are identical, each individual person has their own internal perspective on life that is incommensurable with anyone else’s. The most we can hope for is to make a piece of it intelligible, and be open to growth and change. Successful relationships are the result of two people taking a leap of faith to want to understand the other’s existence, and working tirelessly to build a means, together, of expressing themselves and sharing with each other.
And this is all common knowledge.
Common knowledge, though, is not always so common. The danger of looking for that “one true love” is that every relationship, even the best, requires a great deal of effort to bridge the gap between two infinitely different people. If you do not accept this, then you will pass up every opportunity for true happiness because you believe that work and those initial miscommunications are indicative of the individual in question not  being your true love, when really they just required a little bit of work, like everyone would. Our divorce rate has skyrocketed because no one remembers that relationships need commitment and drive to succeed for the long haul. People expect to live happily ever after without owning up to the responsibility of creating that happiness, and this puts unreasonable demands on their partner to be that perfect match, without putting in the sheer manhours to make it happen. You have to work at it, just like anything else worthwhile.
Again, this is all common knowledge. But my girlfriend just broke up with me, and it was because she thought we argued too much, and that those disagreements were indicative of us not being “meant to be.” I wanted to overcome the obstacles in our communication, but she thought it wasn’t worth it, because we were just incompatible.
You have to work at it, but you can’t work at it alone.

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