One of my friends called me sobbing the other day. I knew boy troubles had her blue because that’s typically the only time she calls. For adventures and events, she texts.

Here’s the abridged version:

Sorry you haven’t heard from me. I’ve been dating someone for six months. A guy from my spiritual community. I think we have to break up. Sob. Sob. Sob. 

Here’s what I learned about the guy:

  • He is pudgy.
  • He is not fit and huffs and puffs.
  • He is baldish (or maybe that’s just the image I created in my mind as she was talking).
  • He insists she stops drinking.
  • He insists she stops smoking.
  • He insists on a lot of other things.

Sob. Sob. Sob.

Here’s my abridged response:

If you want to change for you, then great, but changing for him is just going to cause resentment. And honestly…he doesn’t sound like that great of a catch. Why do you want to keep hanging on?

And here’s her truth:

Because if this relationship doesn’t work I AM A FAILURE. I will have failed once again. And everyone will know it.

This got me to thinking…

Is it REALLY possible to FAIL in a relationship?

I’ve certainly behaved badly in relationships. Acted out. Done things I’m not very proud of. Did my poor choices contribute to the downfall of my relationships? Absolutely. But did I fail?

Perhaps it’s my resistance to living with regret, but I’m going to say NO! The person I was at the time did the very best she could with the tools she had. She learned, she grew, she harvested a better, less reactive personality. I’d say she flourished not failed. But in retrospect, none of my relationships were ever intended for forever. So whatever I helped mess up, was supposed to get messed up.

“Failure” is an intrinsic part of many of the relationships we embark upon. Not because humans are inherently hopeless, but because humans are necessarily fluid. We aren’t fixed and rigid, but constantly shifting. That’s not to say we flow gracefully all the time, but if, despite our most courageous efforts, we just can’t sustain a free flowing love with our partner, then that’s not failure. That’s our best effort.

That’s what relationships are about, aren’t they? You meet someone. You get to know them a little. You make a commitment. You get to know them a little more. And sometimes you discover that as much as you like that person, love that person, respect that person, want to be with that person…that person just isn’t your match.

So then, you try to change them, or try to change you—and I’m not talking about fine-tuning or compromise but fundamental changes to your way of life and being— rather than recognizing it’s just not a fit. That’s not failure. That’s just dating, and having the wisdom to move on when you discover your lifestyles or mannerisms just don’t jive. Let me repeat: that’s not failure, that’s success!

Failure: lack of success 

Because the end…the end of anything…doesn’t mean a lack of success. It’s just an ending. So that there can be a new beginning. So go get yours!

Written by Amy
I am a film, TV and voiceover actress and a fiction and nonfiction writer. You've seen and heard me on television, movies, radio ads and video games. I'm the author of 5 books and counting, and my award-winning short stories have been featured in acclaimed literary journals.

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