Do you like me? Check yes, no, or maybe.”
Do you remember being the author of those words? Or, perhaps you were the recipient of those words written on a giant sheet of notebook paper folded about a million times.
Those were the days. So juvenile. So elementary. Things were simple back then, weren’t they?
But, you know, I think as kids, we may have been on to something.
Relationships can go sour for any number of reasons or for any one reason that just keeps eating away at the union. Sometimes those reasons are irreconcilable differences that are as a result of not recognizing the differences that were there from the beginning. Then, a lot of times, people change over the years.
Sometimes our interests, the things that we want, or care about change and at other times, it is our expectations or attitudes that do. In whatever ways we change from when we first begin a relationship with someone, there are likely to be consequences, positive or negative.
When I have spoken with or have read about couples who have been together happily for several years, I have found one very interesting and surprisingly ironic nugget to be true and shared among them. That is, they still like one another. In a lot of failed relationships, at least one partner will admit that they simply stopped liking the other person.
In my research I have discovered that the like is what sustains the love. When you like somebody, you enjoy their company and the person they are. You respect them and you appreciate them.
When we stop liking our partners, there is nothing to cultivate the relationship and so it perishes. When we stop liking our partners for who they are and friendship is not the foundation, cracks can show up in the form of personal insults, unfair comparisons to other people, and dried up intimacy.
You may say, “But she has changed or he has”, and from your perspective, you’d probably be accurate. Change isn’t bad. It is actually the most certain aspect of life, but as always, it is about how we manage the change. Do we work against it, or do we embrace it and see what new and different aspects of ourselves and/or of our partners emerge? At each stage of change, I think it doesn’t hurt to go back to those elementary days and assess the state of your relationship using a simple questionnaire. It asks only one question of your partner. “Do you like me? Check yes, no, or maybe.”
Sometimes we can make things too complicated, when, in fact, all we need to do is go back to the simple way of doing things-like back then.
Yep, I think we kids may have been on to something. We even knew to add a “maybe” to the answer choices. You see, a “maybe” gave us hope and we could work with that.
So, if all you have is hope, then, grab onto it. Discuss the answer with your partner, communicating honestly about what has happened between you. Even with changes, you might be able to discover new reasons to like one another and find your way back to a loving relationship.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.