Pat Benatar said it best: "Love is a battlefield."
Some have said that people don’t like relationships, but rather, the drama of them. And anyone who has been in a relationship knows that it’s nothing but drama.
Unless you’ve gotten to that point where both of you are so perfect and compatible that you marry each other, every relationship is doomed for not just failure, but a nasty power struggle.
The beginning, middle and end of every relationship is about establishing power. It’s not the butterflies or the “spark” you’re feeling, it’s the anxiety that comes with going to war.
Like a good general, you must prepare for the unexpected along with the possibility of losing. You must enter with a strong attack and an even stronger defense.
Like a dutiful soldier, you must be prepared for living as a prisoner of someone else’s war. Because there’s a possibility that you will lose, a 50/50 shot that you will not win that person's heart the way he or she has captured yours and forever live as a slave to this person's whims.
This daunting possibility, this chance that you will lose is what creates that roller coster you enter upon meeting someone you’re willing to fight against. It’s also what creates all those unnecessary games and tactics we employ. The slow response, the nonchalance, the two-day rule.
You strategize and theorize, making plans late at night and during the day when you should be thinking about other things. You become obsessed with your opponent.
Obsessed with the chase, the kill. You've practiced, planned and trained for this. You've fought other battles and are confident going into this one.
However, every battle, like every opponent, is different. You cannot assume that because you had the power in the last relationship, you will attain it in this one. Yet you enter this one hopeful and optimistic, winning battle after battle. Until you lose.
The battles are over and you have lost the war. But how did you lose? You did everything right. You employed all the tactics, avoided all the traps and perfectly executed your attack. Why are you feeling like you lost? Why does it feel like you’re still chasing this person?
Unfortunately, no matter how many strategies you execute perfectly and traps you avoid, you unwillingly fell head over heels for your opponent. You lost. You lost this game of who cares less and now you are this person's prisoner. Because in the game of relationships, it’s whoever cares less that wins.
There's no such thing as equal feelings
It’s impossible to measure feelings. There’s no barometer above your partner's head telling you where his or her interest lies. We’re forced to plunge head in and hope this person is somewhere close to our levels.
But there’s always going to be someone who is a little bit more at risk, someone with higher levels, closer to getting burned.
Relationships are supposed to be symbiotic, but they always end up as a competition. Who calls first, who breaks up first, who gets over it first. It’s impossible to tell where your opponent sits on the scale of feelings, but all you can do is hope that you’re somewhere along the same lines.
For a while, you may feel like you're on the same level, but in the end, someone will lose interest first. Someone will dip below the average level and leave you feeling cold and alone. All you can do is hope to see the signs of the wavering barometer and get out while you're still cool.
It’s the pride before the fall
Like many great rulers or generals, pride is your demise. Blinding you from the truth, it can lead to your defeat before the battle has begun. You cannot see your opponent clearly because you are too worried about your own agenda.
Before you even get a real shot at an honest relationship, both of you are so guarded you never get past the introductions. While trying to get to know each other, you hide behind a wall, at which any perceived attack or sign of crumbling sends you running further away.
Once you feel safe, however, you slowly begin to let the walls down, letting go of that pride that no longer seems important. Your love for your partner is more important than your self-respect.
You don’t care about your dignity when you’re calling this person 15 times or professing that you can’t live without him or her.
This loss of pride, however, is like giving away your last chips at the table. Even though you feel secure enough to gamble them away, you most likely end up losing everything.
Unfortunately, hiding your pride keeps you from advancing in your relationship, but giving it up can leave you vulnerable and open for attack.
The games are never over
No matter how long you’ve been in a relationship, there are always games.
Rather than fighting face to face, you employ tactics and tricks to try and capture your opponent. You run away from these advances and send subtle clues to your position, yet you never get an honest fight.
These games are supposed to trick your opponent, letting that person know you don’t really care about him or her. Yet, you wouldn’t be fighting if you didn’t.
Unfortunately, after all the games are played and battles fought, sometimes it’s the one who misread the clues and didn’t play correctly who loses. Maybe you were playing two different games. Maybe he was playing Monopoly while you were playing Scrabble.
Maybe he forfeited right before you were about to win. Maybe you didn't understand the rules and fell behind. Whatever the scenario, one wrong text, one too many phone calls, and one slipped feeling can be the difference between winning and losing.
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