I am in the process of writing a book about relationships. It’s a very different book. It’s not the usual “work on your communication,” “start scheduling date nights…” type book. Instead, it’s a radical approach to redefining couples so they can stay together and be happy. One of my core messages is about a single principle “I don’t care.” That may seem counterintuitive but let me explain.
The Sad State of Relationships
I’ve seen far too many relationships fail due to harmful patterns of behavior. Most people find someone they like, and the relationship unfolds as it naturally will. However, over time things change, people change, and distinct patterns emerge. If we can learn to break these bad habits and notice the patterns when they start, we might have a chance to save a valuable partnership. One of the biggest issues with most relationships is control.
I have had four long-term relationships in my life. Two of them ended in disaster; one was my marriage. As I navigated these relationships, I learned a lot, but I the most valuable lesson I learned was about control.
Back to Basics – Use Friendship as Your Guide
My most cherished relationship is with the love of my life and my current partner. We were together in a passionate, long-term relationship for about 12 years. Then we weren’t for six years. Now we have begun something new, something different built on all we learned about ourselves and each other during our six-year separation. During that time, we both made self-improvement a priority without any expectation of ever getting back together.
The thing is, while we were apart, we stayed friends. In fact, we grew to be best friends, very close but with extremely clear boundaries (as friends often have). So, all our bad habits as a couple were washed away and replaced by things we had lost along the way. What we learned is that the basic principles of friendship helped us to repair our love relationship. If couples can learn to keep those boundaries in place, each person feels more freedom to be who they are and less constriction.
For example, when in a relationship, I find myself itching to control the other person. It’s not overt but I “feel” it inside. If they don’t want to go somewhere or do something, I feel like I must convince them to do it. That feeling makes me uncomfortable and eventually starts to annoy my partner.
Spending six years as my boyfriend’s friend taught me to let go more and detach. Now I don’t care if he feels like watching a movie or going somewhere with me. I take care of me, and he takes care of him. It works so beautifully. I am freed from control, and he is free of someone trying to control him. We see each other when it works for both of us, not according to any schedule or society-dictated timetable.
It works both ways. I have a strong sense of independence, and I like my personal space. Even though we own condos next door to each other, we respect each other’s privacy and always text or call before coming over. I love that!
Not Caring Allows Me to Love Freely
By stepping back and not caring about any of the little things that used to drive me crazy, I can love him unconditionally and with my whole heart. Living separately means I am not bothered by habits and preferences, and I get to have everything in my home my way. Don’t get me wrong. We are super close and spend a lot of time together, but we don’t fight, there is very little to argue about, and we spend most of our time expressing deep love and affection for one another doing the things we want to do together.
So, when I say I don’t care anymore, I genuinely do not care what he does, when he does it, how he does it, or why. I simply care that he loves me, and I am grateful for the time we spend together and how we treat each other. However, I do care about my actions, and I like myself a lot more in this new relationship.
I can’t wait to publish my relationship book to share more of what I have learned and help others struggling to figure out how to make a difficult relationship work again.