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It Takes Two to Make a Relationship Work and Only One to Ruin It

It’s time to dismantle a revered societal belief, because this societal belief prevents people from seeing the truth of relationships as they really are. The belief it’s time to dismantle is: It takes two to ruin a relationship.

One of the most common things you will hear when you go to see a relationship counselor or when a breakup happens is “it takes two”. What this means is, it is automatically assumed that both parties are at fault in some way or hold some responsibility for the downfall of the relationship. But the truth of relationships is much more complicated than that. The truth is, it can be two people who both hold responsibility relative to ruining a relationship. But it only takes one person to ruin a relationship. The real truth is, it takes two to make a relationship work.

There is a risk that people will use this information to try to absolve themselves of any responsibility regarding the destruction of their relationship and use it to back up their blame of the other party. But if you do not understand this concept, you will not get how serious it is to consciously choose to step up to the plate and commit to and take full responsibility for your part of a relationship. If you don’t, your relationships are doomed. 

Keep in mind that it is not simply the one who pulls away or ends a relationship that is by default the one that ruined a relationship. A person can behave in a way that ruins a relationship and so the other, at face value, ends it.

To illustrate this point further, let’s make use of the phrase “it takes two to tango” by actually using the example of tango. If I take two tango dancers, both of them have to commit to dancing with the other and each needs to do their personal best in order for them to dance the tango. This is a metaphor for it takes two to make a relationship work. If one of them keeps sitting down for a breather in the middle of the dance and the other keeps tripping their partner, the tango is a bad tango and both parties are ruining it. This is a metaphor for it can be two people who both do their part in ruining a relationship. But if one of them decides to keep sitting down in the middle of the dance or walks off the dance floor or becomes emotionally abusive, but the other person is committed and is doing their personal best… the tango dance is ruined. This is a metaphor for it takes one to ruin a relationship.

This truth makes us really, really uncomfortable. Because, quite frankly many of us don’t trust other people. Knowing this truth makes us feel powerless and at the mercy of the other person… Doomed to be hurt. We would like to think that if we are knowledgeable enough and committed enough and good enough, that we can be in control of our entire relationship.  We imagine that we can think in a way and behave in a way and change ourselves in a way that no matter what our partner does or doesn’t do, we can create a successful relationship. We can make up for our partner’s issues and we can make our relationship work ourselves. But this is an illusion. Just like it is an illusion that you can dance the tango alone or do a good tango no matter what your partner is doing or not doing. 

You may have relationships where both of you do your part to ruin a relationship. You may also have relationships where it is only one of you that ruins the relationship. But knowing that it is impossible to even have a relationship, much less make a relationship good, unless two people are aligned in doing so, this puts you in a choice point. Knowing this, you can become avoidant of relationships because it is too terrible to know that no matter how much you may want to make a relationship work, you can’t if the other person isn’t on board. Or, you can decide that you are going to be one of those people who takes a powerful stand for relationship. When you do this, you are choosing to be that tango dancer who is dedicated and committed to each dance and who keeps learning more about how to succeed and become better and better at the dance and who puts forth their personal best. 

Making the decision to take a powerful stand for relationship means the following: It means that you know you can’t control what the other person in a relationship does or doesn’t do. It means that you know you can’t commit to relationship for them and you can’t compensate for their part of the relationship. It means knowing that what you do have is influence. Everything you think, say and do affects the other person. It impacts the quality of that relationship dance you are doing together. It means knowing that even though you don’t have control over the entire relationship, you do have control over one thing in any relationship: Your part of it. Your part in a relationship is: YOU. And so, being 1/2 of the relationship, you need to bring your personal best. You need to take total responsibility for YOU in the relationship. It means not basing your degree of performance in the relationship (or lack thereof) off of their performance (or lack thereof). It means considering your behavior to be a demonstrative vote for what you want the world to be like and for what you want to receive in your life. 

In a universe based on the law of mirroring (often called the law of attraction) doing your personal best in a relationship is your best bet relative to lining up with strong relationships. When it comes to relationships, all you can do is dance your best dance. And be brave enough to open up to give other people the chance to dance with you. Part of dancing your best dance involves this bravery to be in relationship, where you are not the only person in control of the dance. If you do this, at the end of the day, no matter how painful a relationship or breakup may be, you can live with yourself because you were the person you want to be and you were the person you would want to be in a relationship with. Just ask yourself, before you make this mean that you should be committed and stay in a relationship no matter what the other person does or doesn’t do, do you want to be the person who keeps dancing with a person who doesn’t dance back or who makes it painfully hard to dance your dance?

Because you are ½ of the relationship and you have control over that part, it is always a good idea to examine what your part in a relationship problem is. And because you have control over ½ of the relationship, it takes you to make it work. But it also takes the other person. And it can only take one of you to ruin it.


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