Many times, in the recent past, I’ve encountered people who seemed to have lost their “balance.” These people appear to be missing an important something in their lives. All of the people are adults, and they represent the gamut of possible adult ages. Some are young, others are middle-aged and yes, there are the old ones. :-)
So why do they all appear to have lost their balance? This is a puzzling question, since there seems to be only one common factor between all of them. The common factor that I noticed is that each person has lost, or never has had, a significant close relationship with another mature adult. Is that important?
I’ll admit that I didn’t, until now, think that having a relationship was important for a person’s balance in life. But, that begs the question, “what is meant by a person’s balance in life?” Well, after I started writing this, I decided to “google” balance in life.” Of course, there were many hits, and some of the websites that “bubbled-to-the-top” were interesting. One of them referred to the “Wheel Of Life.” The Wheel Of Life is a visual organizer that gives you a vivid visual representation of the way your life is currently, compared with the way you’d ideally like it to be. I immediately noticed how their example showed the importance of significant others in our lives. Here, in example 1, is a sample of the Wheel Of Life as shown on the site.
The wheel is designed to be used as a tool to help you map out your life as it is in relationship to your significant other. The picture is only an example. As you look at the example, you can see how this Wheel Of Life shows Community Leaders and Sports Players as not as important as the others. Again, this is to be used as a visual organizer, not necessarily as a final solution.
A lot of the sites discuss balance in the workplace. Click here for an example. Though I don’t deny the importance of balance in the workplace, in this post, I want to focus on balance and the effect of not having a meaningful relationship outside of the workplace.
There are many authors who have written about balance and especially, how having balance in your life affects your work. But, as the following quote from Catherine Pulsifer so clearly implies, it’s much bigger than just work.
“Looking back at the times where I allowed my work to create stress and frustration in my life I now realize what I thought was important really was not. I am not saying you should not take your work seriously, what I am saying is that we need to realize that life is all about balance.”
—Catherine Pulsifer, from Briefcase with an Engine
So, if we follow the logic of Pulsifer’s quote, then there is more to life than the life at work. This is what I think I have observed with the many people who I think have lost their balance. I’m confident that, at least with the ones I’m thinking about, there is a different factor involved. What is that factor? Metaphorically, I think it’s the “other end of the seesaw.” In order to keep a seesaw balanced, there needs to be weights that are approximately the same, but opposite in affect on each end of the seesaw. I’m using the word “affect” in the sense that the influence by the significant other adds balance to the life of both – similar to the influence by both people on the ends of a seesaw.
Like with a seesaw, it’s difficult to keep balance when there is only one weight (person). I realize there will be exceptions and that there are some people who do very well without another person to help them “keep balance.” Having stated that, I’ve seen many who have lost their balance when through death, divorce, or break-ups, they no longer have a meaningful relationship with a significant other. Another thing I find amazing, is how many have lost their balance when the relationship they previously had been, from my point of view, a bad one. How can this be? On first thought, it seems like ending a relationship that is bad would be a positive event in one’s life. But, in many cases, it appears to result in a less happy life. OUCH!
It appears that even if a balancing relationship with a significant other is less than ideal, there is still a great amount of good in it for both people. I know my parents didn’t have an ideal relationship, but upon reflection, they did seem to keep each other balanced. When my Dad died, my Mom was lost. Even after a reasonable mourning period, she couldn’t seem to find a way of being complete.
After observing my Mom’s experience and that of many others, I’ve noticed that there is one other factor that I haven’t mentioned yet, which is common to all who have lost their balance. They all proclaim to not need another relationship. In other words, they claim to be comfortable or happy alone – some say they prefer to be alone. Is this a defense mechanism? Maybe, but what are they defending? Their self-esteem? Perhaps!
Since most of my posts are written as a writing-for-learning exercise, you might ask what I’ve learned from this post? Well, my answer is that I think we often undervalue the importance of having a balancing relationship. Too often, we discount the value of working toward developing and/or keeping a meaningful relationship. We need to understand that we can live without significant others, but the quality of our lives will undoubtedly be lessened.
As I was writing the previous paragraph, a few lines from Stephen Stills‘ 1970 song, “Love The One Your With,” popped into my mind. I searched for the lyrics and an appropriate excerpt is listed below. Perhaps, many of my unbalanced friends need to realize the great value of having a balancing relationship and, at the same time, lose their perfectionist’s attitude of having to find the “perfect” person.
Excerpt From: “Love The One Your With”
Don’t be angry, don’t be sad,
Don’t sit cryin’ over good things you’ve had,
There’s a girl right next to you
And she’s just waiting for something you do.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with
So, in summary:
For the sake of balance and quality of life, seek a “balancing significant-other”
If you can’t be with the one you think is perfect, then stay with and treat the one you’re with as though s/he is perfect :-)