“I’m just better at relationships than you are.” These words have spewed out of the mouth of someone very close to me several times over the last few years. They irk the hell out of me (the words, not the person). “What makes you better at relationships?!” is always my oh-so-witty reply, as if I really need someone to point out all of my commitment-phobic issues, yet I leave the door wide open for said person to do so. Every. Time. “I’ve had more relationships, which means I’ve had more practice, which therefore makes me better at relationships than you.” My response is always a very mature, very well thought out, “NUH-UH!!” They had a valid point though. I have a very limited quantity of actual relationships, but those I have had have been long term for the most part.
This got me thinking: When it comes to relationships what makes someone “better” at being in a relationship? What should we place more value on in the “quality over quantity” debate?
I tend to view men like shoes: I want to try on as many as possible that catch my eye until I find the perfect fit. But once I’ve found that perfect fit, I tend to be loyal to that one magic pair. You know, the pair that goes with everything, that your friends adore; the pair that doesn’t give you blisters or have you searching for the receipt so you can return them and run away screaming in pain? While this means I have racked about a lot of fuck toys, friends with benefits and a very lengthy list of men whom I’ve casually dated, I’ve only had a few “magic pairs” in my life. And I’m perfectly OK with that. While I feel that I learn something from every encounter I have, be they friendships or romantic/sexual encounters, I feel like the quality of the few relationships I have had have taught me so much more and have helped me grow as a person.
The person I mentioned above? Well, they tend to consider every seedy affair to be a full fledged “relationship”. Now, I’m not one to define or label anything for myself, let alone anyone else, but the shit-faced person you took home from the bar last night, banged and are seeing again Friday night for a repeat performance is not a relationship! Especially when you have a string of those! Those are fuck toys, maybe friends with benefits, but you’re not taking those people to Sunday dinner at Mom’s! Even if you’re relationships aren’t as torrid and as what I’ve just described, if you have a string of 3 week relationship after 3 week relationship, or if you can look at your calendar and say you have brought a different partner (boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever label you choose) to every family gathering throughout the year, it’s safe to say those aren’t relationships of any quality.
Quality Over Quantity
It doesn’t matter if you have had 5 relationships in your life or 500, if they are all lacking in quality then it doesn’t really matter. The number of relationships you’ve had or haven’t had does not make you better or worse when it comes to being in a relationship. The kind of person you are in a relation ship matters far more. Are you loyal? Caring? Do you communicate effectively? Do you actively listen to your partner? Do you compromise (and this doesn’t mean you get your way all the time, nor does it mean the other person does)? Do you fight fair? How do you deal with conflict in the relationship? Do you respect boundaries?
The quality of your relationships really depends on the quality of your character, of you as a person within the relationship. What makes you better in a relationship is your ability to learn and grow from each past experience and make a promise to yourself to be a better person. Maybe in your last relationship you didn’t effectively communicate. Learn from that so that it doesn’t happen again in your next relationship.
It’s true that practice does make perfect, but if you’re an athlete and you are half-assing your workouts—practicing for 10 minutes a day rather than giving it a full quality hour—just to get them over and done with and move on, is that really practice? It’s the same with relationships– quality over quantity will always make for better relationships.
What do you think matters more: quality or quantity? Does one make you better at relationships?