A Tricky Thing About Relationships
There’s a scene in the movie The Notebook in which Allie comes clean to Lon (her fiancé) about being in love with Noah (her true love). In context, Allie has just come back to Lon after spending a number of passionate days reconnecting with Noah; she is torn about what to do (to move forward with marrying Lon—the man she thinks she should marry—or to scrap the engagement and live a humble life with Noah—the love of her life). If this happened in real life, I think most people would label Allie a tramp and defend Lon’s position to throw her to the wolves. However, Lon’s response is profound: "The way I see it, I got three choices,” he says. “One, I can shoot him. Two, I can kick the crap out of him. Or three, I leave you. Well, all that's no good. You see, 'cause none of those options get me you." As much as Lon loves Allie, he realizes that her heart is with Noah. “I don’t want to have to convince my fiancé that she should be with me,” he says. And that’s profound, becauselove is not about trying to force someone’s cards. In this emotional exchange, Lon teaches us a thing or two about love and relationships. One is that surrender, though one of the most difficult things to do, is sometimes what is necessary. He realized that it was counterproductive to effort at keeping Allie; that in order for her to be genuinely happy, he was going to have to let her go, even at the expense of his own dreams. But how do we rectify this with the approach that “you fight for what you want” or “you find a way to make it work?” The thing is, we can’t change other people, so “fighting for what you want” and “finding a way to make it work” are only possible in a relationship when both people come to the table with the intent to do so. Intent is the key. I explained to someone recently, “When there’s no connection with someone, a million and one reasons why it should work won’t convince me to be with them; when there is a good connection with someone, a million and one reasons why it shouldn’t work won’t keep me away.” In other words, my foremost intent is to have a deep connection with someone (to be “on the same wavelength”), and everything beyond that (even the things that seem really big) are just details. These details are seemingly important ones, but in truth, they are usually just bullet points to support the predeterminedlogical assessments that I’ve made about given situations. In other words, we come to a conclusion first and then (usually subconsciously) look for proof that our conclusion is accurate. The first step in changing this pattern is to intend for it to be different; to want a different outcome; and then to say, “I’ve never done it this way before, but I’m going to give it a wholehearted shot, regardless of how illogical it sounds,” and then to do just that. Discontent is a companion to anyone whose intent of the mind overshadows the intent of the heart. That said, you cannot change someone else’s intent. Tough as it may be, sometimes the most valuable thing we can do is to allow someone the space to determine it on their own, and then to be supportive of whatever they decide.