On a whim, as I was trying to decide what title would encompass this post, I looked up, “What’s the difference between a relationship and a partnership?”
A consensus emerged, without my actually clicking on any of the links. Blurbs are wonderful things, when one is in a hurry, aren’t they? In general, the distinction was that anyone/everyone has a relationship – with their parents, with the cashier who scans their groceries, even with strangers and/or deceased individuals. Relationship are, well, relative. True, the word relationship often adopts a romantic, or at least familial, connotation, but it isn’t inherently or strictly limited by those boundaries. So, relationships, technically, just are a byproduct of existence.
On the other hand, there are partnerships. Again, in general (based just on my quick skimming of the blurbs), partnerships seem to be characterized by two distinctions that relationships aren’t. 1) They are more active. Individuals in partnerships are involved in an active give/take/compromise process. Technically you have a relationship with 7 billion other people on the planet, but it’s mostly passive – you share a connection, not a conversation. 2) Partnerships are more structured. Now, that’s not to imply that partnerships are never random or short-lived, because they can be, but unlike relationships, partnerships are not necessarily byproducts of existence (though I expect it could be argued that they’re byproducts of civilizations or communities).
I’m thinking about this subject, now, because of the events of my last post and the events that have happened since. To recap: my SO and I got into an argument that basically boiled down to a lack of communication . . . or, more properly, a lack of active listening. I was depressed by the situation, because I felt misunderstood and believed that my point of view was being overlooked by my SO. It was made worse, in retrospect, because he thought he was taking actions that were actually helping my situation, whereas I felt that he was just trying to prove a point.
In the end, we were both probably in the wrong. I should have been more understanding that he was only trying to help me in the way he knows how to, and he should have listened to my concerns. We were both making the age old mistake of thinking that the other didn’t have anything important to contribute to the situation.
We went to bed – if not angry, then at least not happy. The following morning, we went out separate ways – me, to work and school; him, just to work. That afternoon, he picked me up from the campus and said he needed to run two quick errands before taking me back to work. I said that was fine, because he seemed to be in a better mood and I wasn’t willing to let the argument continue to be a barrier in our normally very relaxed/open dynamic. He went to a parts store in an effort to locate an obscure bolt, stopped to get gas, and then stopped at an office supply store that neither of us usually go to.
Now, for the unaware, our argument had been over the existence and the availability of index cards with ruled lines on both sides. We’d looked for them in three places, I was ready to admit defeat, but he was refusing to accept that we couldn’t find them in any of our usual stores and wanted to extend our search radius. I was already at the point where I wanted to move on to studying another way, because my exam was only two days away.
Him, being him, spent his lunch break searching for the index cards. He found them.
I won’t say that I wasn’t happy. I was. I appreciated his effort and proceeded to very happily use the index cards to make flashcards for my pharmacology exam. I will continue to use them as I enter next quarter. That said, I kinda wish he hadn’t felt the need to be “right” regarding the existence of said index cards. Even so, that night, I washed dishes and made dinner, as thanks.
One of the other defining characteristics of a partnership is an element of symbiosis. An “I’ll scratch your back, if you’ll scratch mine,” type of mentality. Or, more kindly, maybe, “Let’s pool our resources to have more together than we could have separately. Let’s take turns standing guard, so we’re both are safe and rested. Let’s alternate carrying the weight, so neither of us stumbles.” It’s teamwork, and loyalty, and mutual appreciation.
That’s the specific kind of relationship I wanted as a kid. I didn’t care about romance, per se. What I want is the intimacy and security of a solid partnership. If there’s romance, that’s great, I guess, but the lack thereof has never been a deal breaker, for me.
Of course, love is another matter. I crave being loved, partly because I fear that I am un-lovable. I know this is probably an unfounded fear, because I know that there are people – my family – who love me . . . but there are also times when I fear that their love is more biologically engineered and happenstance than anything else. If they just randomly met me, would they still love me? I don’t know, but I hope so.
I’ve noted before, in another post, that my SO doesn’t love me in the traditional sense, but that I do love him in the traditional sense. It’s something that’s complicated and sometimes painful and sometimes a blessing. I’m sure that it will continue to be all of those things, but I’m okay with that, because we’re still in this . . . this dynamic? partnership? . . . . together. We’re still supporting each other, making sure both of us are okay, and helping each other to do the things we want to do.
It’s not a typical fairy-tale, but I think it’s better than anything Cinderella ever dreamed of while she was scrubbing floors and talking to the birds. In my humble opinion, Prince Charming ain’t got nothin’ on my SO.