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Friday, May 12, 2017

The Long and Short of It

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

Stability and success – Two different dimensions

Huzzah! This issue of Baltimore OUTloud proudly celebrates 15 years in publication. It’s no small feat to survive when you have a defined audience and to go through the worst economic crisis in the history of these U.S. Especially so when we see the decline in staff and demand for print media. But, now in the long-to-be-remembered words of an unnamed (!) person, “Nevertheless, she persisted!”

Once on this thread of thought, I wondered about longevity in relation to success in relationships. A friend of mine has a company hat has been in business for 44 years, but he is no millionaire. A couple I know has been married for 27 years but they are not exactly Ozzie and Harriet. So how does longevity and success coexist? Or do they?

I think the first step in looking at this issue is to distinguish between the personal and the professional. The second issue is how one defines success in either field. If your criterion for success is the amount of money, longevity may not even apply. There are IT companies and entrepreneurs who stay in business for a couple of years, make a killing in selling the gig, and then say goodbye. If you use the standard of “years in business” regardless of the amount of money, mom-and-pop stores come to mind, where longevity exists but not huge amounts of money earned.

Then we come to relationships. Does the ability to have long-term connections make a statement about the person? We usually generalize when we hear someone goes from one relationship to another, as we also do in going from one job to another. We associate such restlessness with instability, fear of intimacy, or abandonment issues. John or Mary has not “settled down” we say, implying immaturity. Do you agree?

In this age of fluid gender identity, do we need to reevaluate this factor of stable monogamy? What about stable polygamy and polyamory? I am raising these questions because judgmentalness and sticking to rigid beliefs create much conflict and polarization in the society. Maybe a day will come when disapproval of what is outside the norm – however one defines that which is the norm – will disappear, but I doubt it will be in my lifetime. We are seeing how one leader can embolden the nasty underbelly of the society by encouraging condemnation of minority groups, and thereby, increase polarization. It is up to us, the people, to watch for each other, to stay away from blame and not labeling those who are unlike us as “them” but accept that each person is a human being with warts.

Meanwhile, take inventory of how you define success in a relationship. Consider what being happy and content would look like to you. Think of what you bring to another person’s life in terms of caring. The long and short of it is: Take care of yourself as much as you take care of others who are important to you.

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