I can’t believe I’m saying this, but good relationships can have problems.
“Well, duh, Page,” some of you might be saying. “Why are you devoting an article to this? Isn’t this common sense?”
You would think, I suppose. But no.
Look, I’ve been blown away by some of the responses I’ve gotten to reader problems I’ve featured — either in advice letter form or via a narrative about a discussion I had with someone about their relationship. Readers are quick to jump in and label NORMAL CONFLICTS as unhealthy, toxic, or somehow abusive.
Yes, they’re quick to do this while only getting a tiny sliver of the information. A brief glimpse into the situation, without all the details. (Because normally I do have to stay on the surface in these accounts, since otherwise the readers in question wouldn’t stay anonymous, and I don’t want to mess up people’s home lives.)
This is not to say that there aren’t unworkable, incredibly toxic relationships out there! There are.
But I tend to feature relationships that are more nuanced, more complex. Ones that have problems in which people are having real-life messy conflicts — even though THEY ARE ALL ACTING IN GOOD FAITH AND TRYING THEIR DARNEDEST.
I don’t feature a lot of Dan Savage-level DTMFA (dump that motherfucker already) situations. Those pieces would probably be massively popular, but I don’t like featuring them. Honestly, I don’t do it much because they’re overdone, overexposed, overpublished. And I’d rather share complex, ambiguous messy portraits of relationships that I don’t often see discussed much. But which I — and literally every other person I know well — have lived through, either directly or by helping out a friend.
So I just wanted to say: Just because your relationship (or someone else’s) has problems, it doesn’t make it automatically a bad relationship. And it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unworkable.
There are 100% things that are worth working on — not every relationship is worth working on, mind you. Some aren’t worth it.
But it’s not always black and white. And we can learn a lot from discussing the ones that are somewhere in between — about relationships, yes, but also about ourselves.
But that’s only if we keep an open, curious mind about other people.
Love y’all. Promise I won’t post a rant every day. But this pattern been extra-extra lately. Made me realize I don’t talk about that enough maybe — that good relationships can have problems that are worth working through.