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The Wonders of Meeting People Much More Than Halfway

January 31, 2011

The Wonders of Meeting People Much More Than Halfway

I just saw the movie Blue Valentine, featuring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. It’s about a relationship that’s magical and loving in the beginning and then unravels as the characters confront each other’s flaws and respond to them in very different ways. The film is a great character study and portrays the complex relationship couples develop as they encounter life’s challenges.

Some relationships become stronger as the individuals work together to resolve issues and differences. They navigate the realities they face in life as a team. When they don’t, the relationship is likely to weaken, become acrimonious, and may ultimately crumble. Their differences become larger, the gaps harder to bridge, and positions harden.

I walked out of the movie remembering advice I received when I was a young adult. I was advised that a healthy, robust, ever-growing, and continually loving relationship requires that each person meet the other more than halfway. Meeting halfway or less is insufficient. Each partner needs to meet the other 65 or 75 percent of the way, or more, happily and consistently – out of love and affection. Plus they need to trust and embrace the reciprocity without feeling entitled to it. When all of that happens, magnificent feelings are generated. Most of us have probably experienced it in our lives, and hopefully in much more than a momentary way.

The overlap in meeting and giving to each other for each other, and knowing each other truly wants to, creates magic and keeps relationships fresh and healthy. Couples newly in love are often like that.  They are motivated to make their partner feel special and to treat him or her in a special way – laughing, smiling, helping, supporting, and extending themselves to one another. It brings joy to both the giver and receiver. It’s one of the incredible things that makes their relationship sparkle.

As relationships mature, the wonderful overlap and the wondrous things it creates may gradually recede. The relationship may devolve from extraordinary to ordinary. The motivation to understand and resolve conflicts may diminish. Tolerance for differences and personality issues may decrease, leading to more and deeper conflicts.

When each person meets the other 65 or 75 percent, they create more common ground; compromise willingly and constructively; and discover how to fulfill each other’s needs more completely. Only meeting each other halfway, or being selfish and not even going that far, may inevitably have the opposite effect. It may result in a slow decline or if the generosity of spirit is not balanced, lead to resentment, guilt or frayed emotions. Going the extra distance for each other, and feeling good about doing it, strengthens relationships and helps map a positive way forward together, both in the specific situation and overall.

Think about your relationships – with your partner, friends, and all those you love. How can you meet them 65 percent, 75 percent, or more of the way everyday – willingly, genuinely, and from the heart? How can you extend yourself and your generosity of spirit to continually enhance and make your most valuable relationships more meaningful and fulfilling? How can you have a conversation with those you love about them doing so as well, if they are not already?

It may take work and a touch of courage to get the ball rolling. However, I believe it’s one of the secrets to expanding and sustaining the joy of love, and living a happier and more fulfilling life.

Steve Weitzenkorn

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2013 7:22 am

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