yesterday, during the opinions’ session after rehearsals, one of the students asked, “what is the most important thing in a relationship?” the first response was, “love. i cannot be with somebody who doesn’t love me. no ways.” this response drew a lot of spirited affirmative responses. then one of the students said, “i think communication is the most important thing in a relationship. you can be in love with someone but if the two of you cannot communicate, love is useless.” everybody agreed with the opinion – me too. i must admit that was a good observation about love being useless without communication. i mean, how do you let someone know you love them if you cannot communicate your feelings. after bandying more ideas about, one of the students turned to me and said, “sir, you’ve been very quiet.” i smiled. and she added, “why are you quiet don’t you have someone special?” my response was, “every relationship is unique in its setup, so what is most important in one may not be important in another relationship. also, what some people think is love is simply just affection. so, i cannot say, love is the most important thing in a relationship. communication is very important, like diana said. but for me though, the most important thing in any relationship is connection.” i then asked them to check the definition of relationship on their phones, tablets and laptops. this is what they found: “a connection, association, or involvement”; “connection between persons by blood or marriage”; “an emotional or other connection between people.” thanks for checking …
i got up and closed the opinions’ session and the class. i refused to take any after-class questions on what i said. i knew some disagreed. i knew some wanted me to expound on why i think love could only just be affection. i knew some didn’t quite get the difference between communication and connection. but, i wanted them to go back home, and think about it. hopefully, discuss it with their special someone. but, also, i wanted the actors to think about the connections their character has with (each of the) other characters in the play before we convene on wednesday. we shall be dealing with this when the opinions’ session opens after the next rehearsals on wednesday. i wasn’t playing mind games with the students when i said connection is more important than communication – it is.
true, love and communication are important – but they are not (separately) always the most important thing in a relationship. this is my impression, you’re free to disagree. but, when you really think about it, often in relationships, the thing lovers fight about is a lack of connection. brene brown says connection is the “… energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” all of the attributes brown speaks of coalesce in the several types and degrees of interpersonal connections: connections at an emotional, intellectual, physical/chemistry, or lifestyle-based levels. in my experience, for relationships to really work, connections must exist and develop on multiple levels. the strength or depth of any or a combination of these many different types of connections can make all the difference in the quality and duration of a relationship.
if you believe, as some people do, in love at first sight, it is very likely the strongest connection you felt at the onset of any relationship was on the physical level. relationships based on purely physical attraction may not last. dr. george simon says, “an overly-intense physical component to a relationship can often lead to distorted perceptions. for example, one partner might “over-idealize” the other, ascribing attributes to them they don’t have.” he explains further that this is not the only problem that can arise from this. he says, when physical attraction dominates, couples might also overlook potentially problematic attributes as well as the lack of connection at other levels needed for the sustenance of a relationship. mind you, blindness to important dimensions of a relationship doesn’t always come from physical infatuation. it can occur when one partner is so lacking in self-esteem and is so overwhelmed by the apparent recognition and approval he/she gets from his/her partner, he/she allows the intensity of their emotional connection to overrule their better judgment about other aspects of the relationship.
whereas you don’t purposefully search for a partner that agrees with everything you are and believe in, connection gives you a “same team” spirit. a feeling that you and your partner understand each other. connection is that warm happy feeling of being in love and together. ‘togetherness’ is key to connection. let me rephrase this: relationship is connection, therefore, without connection, there is no relationship; because one defines the other. that is why when two lovers are disconnected fear, insecurity and loneliness set in. when this happens, many lovers often commit the big mistake of over-communicating from a disconnected place by focusing obsessively on the problem. let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much love you have in your head, it is very difficult to communicate effectively (and with respect) when you are disconnected from your lover. disconnection engenders difficulty, which itself arises when you feel frustrated or threatened. what happens when you are both in this state of disconnect? you forget what you have in (in common) in the wish to maintain your own turfs. subsequently, lack of communication becomes the scapegoat, blame is tossed around, and communication, eventually really breaks down.
let’s face it, it is the desire for connection that makes you want to have an open and honest communication with your partner in the first place. when you’re connected with someone, everything, including your communication, is easy and effortless. if you and your lover find and maintain connection at different levels, it deepens the regard you have for each other and solidifies your relationship.