I’ve given it a lot of thought, and it seems to me that after basic concerns like interpersonal compatibility (which cannot be faked or forced) how well a relationship ultimately goes depends on something else: The way you forget.
There’s one way of forgetting that’s all too common. After you’re in a relationship for a while, you begin to habituate to your partner. You look past their strengths and the good things about them. Maybe you take what they do on an everyday basis (chores, etc.) for granted. You forget what drew you to them in the first place, what was so obvious when everything was bright and shiny new.
But there’s also another way of forgetting. It seems a little less common — but it’s very important. And it’s something I’ve seen a lot in happy, long-term relationships. In other relationships, you let go of resentments easily. Instead of bringing up the one thing they did wrong years ago over and over again, it’s truly like it never happened. If it ever gets mentioned again, it’s in passing — as a non-hostile joke, one that both people get.
And you forget about the times when people made minor mistakes. The times they messed up and were human. Not earth-shaking things here. But little things. Like the time he washed your clothes and forgot to move them to the dryer and you needed to wear them right then and had to scramble to find something else that would work.
The next time he forgets, over a year later, you don’t say, “You always forget to move the laundry.” Which is not true actually. He has forgotten before, granted, but he’s also moved things over successfully many times. And you know… he’s trying to do laundry.
Instead, you’ve forgotten all about that other time. Because it’s actually very rare that he lets you down. He’s human, yes, but he’s very reliable. (Or she. Or they.)
So I’ve learned to pay very close attention to the way I forget in my relationships. What am I forgetting? What am I remembering?
It makes all the difference.
Just a quick note to get the word out that in addition to my 5 books (including the popular Psychic State murder mysteries), I have an active serial on Kindle Vella called Miracle Workers that is updated weekly on Sundays. Happy reading!