What makes a relationship last? Love. Now for the harder question: What is love?
This is one of the most difficult questions one must come to answer. Because love is a subjective experience, it varies greatly between individuals.
It’s a sort of alteration to one’s reality -- to how one perceives and interprets the world around him or her, as well as his or her relation to it.
It involves thoughts, beliefs and intense emotions. Love is what allows for a connection between two individuals to form.
As is so often the case, however, time is love’s enemy. Or rather, it can be love’s enemy.
At the same time, love can grow stronger and deeper each year, allowing the bond between two individuals to form something almost otherworldly.
So why is it that for some couples, the love manages to last -- even grow -- while other couples can’t seem to make things work?
The obvious answer is the two individuals aren’t the right matches for each other.
Maybe they were the wrong type. Maybe they simply met at the wrong time in their lives, while living incompatible realities.
But this doesn’t really tell us much. All it states is that the relationship didn’t work because it couldn’t work.
Of course, different relationships fail for different reasons, but at the same time, those who succeed usually only succeed for one reason.
When it comes to love, there are a million ways to fail but only one way to succeed.
Your love must go past the shallow, past the purely emotional, to a state of mutual fascination and mutual respect -- mutual admiration.
Admiration is often the missing ingredient.
When you admire an individual, you respect him or her intimately. Admiration is a very personal matter.
While you respect strangers, respect your elders, respect for the sake of respecting, admiring an individual is a much more personal matter.
Especially when that admiration comes paired with romantic love. I’d even go as far as to argue that without a mutual admiration, romantic love can never reach what some would call everlasting love, what the Ancient Greeks referred to as “agape.”
Without a mutual admiration for each other, you and your lover won’t be capable of making it the distance because you will get tired of each other.
You will lose interest in time, and your mind will waver, eventually breaking the bond the two of you have created over the years.
Unfortunately, admiration alone isn’t enough to keep the love alive indefinitely.
What it does do, however, is make it much easier for you to keep that flame burning.
When you admire someone, you never completely lose the need to impress him or her.
Just as those who love wish for that love to be reciprocated, those who admire wish to be admired in return.
This may not hold true when the relationship is a shallow one, when we’re simply admiring from a distance, but when the relationship is an intimate one, we have a need for the people we are with to admire us as we admire them, see us as we see them and love us as we love them.
Those in love already have a level of admiration for each other, but how intense the admiration will vary.
Most relationships hold a shallow mutual admiration -- sometimes a one-sided admiration.
If you can manage to admire and feel the need to solicit admiration from your partner -- and do so successfully -- you create a self-perpetuating cycle feeding into itself, allowing your love to flourish.
The reason you admire the person you love is all that really matters.
Admiration is great. It allows you to bond in a way you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.
Yet it’s not so much the admiration itself that makes all the difference but the reason behind it that allows for an amazing partnership.
People don’t admire for the sake of admiring. Like love, admiration is not something you can fake.
You can’t make yourself gaze in wonderment at how incredible this person is.
You can’t make yourself feel proud of all that your partner has accomplished, be proud of his or her strength, beauty, intellect and wisdom.
You can’t just decide the person you love is an incredible specimen because it’s something you must feel.
Something you must feel in response to interacting and spending your life with this individual.
In a sense, this is something the person you’re with must inspire in you. You can’t choose to admire; you need to feel inspired to do so.
As we all know, it takes two to tango. There are countless factors at play, enough to fill several volumes.
If the relationship is right, feels right, then the majority of these factors line up into place.
When a relationship is doomed to fail, it’s because admiration is an impossibility.
Either we aren’t capable of admiring someone, he or she isn’t capable of inspiring admiration in us or vice versa.
Sometimes there is nothing that can be done to make a relationship work. But sometimes there is.