Last time we talked about this idea that love is all you need to build and sustain a healthy partnership. But the truth is, love is NOT enough. It is only one ingredient, not the full recipe. We talked about another key ingredient, compatibility. By the way, someone kindly reminded me that being an extrovert or introvert is a huge part of compatibility as well.
Now, let’s talk about companionship. This is probably the most accepted and acknowledged building block. Most people would agree that companionship is important in a relationship. But what does it really mean?
Companionship is essentially having and maintaining an intimate mental and emotional connection or bond. Most people equate it to friendship, having a like-minded ally with whom to walk through life experiences.
Genuine Friendship – We can all think of at least one friend who we rush to call when something wonderful happens or when we need a different perspective or when we want to recap our favorite TV show. Friendship is the cornerstone of companionship and it’s probably the easiest thing to form. It involves mutual affection, mutual support, mutual loyalty, and mutual respect (by the way, I keep repeating the word “mutual” because reciprocity is paramount!!!!)
Most people say that your partner should be your best friend. I personally think that an intimate partner being a BFF puts extra strain on the relationship and could lead to co-dependency if there is not enough balance but to each their own.
Enriching conversations are also an integral part of companionship. A collaborative exchange of thoughts, ideas, and energies should feel like soul food. It is truly a blessing to have some who truly studies you enough to know how to interpret everything from your raised eyebrow to your left hand on your hip and tilted head.
“How beautiful it feels when they want to know all about the worlds you hold inside of you” – butterflies rising
Mutual Understanding – As someone who is often misunderstood, I know firsthand how damn good it feels to be understood. Although understanding is part of friendship, it is one of the most overlooked qualities of companionship.
Recently, I had 3 separate conversations with 3 separate friends about a situation that left me feeling a little…gaslit. I was explaining the situation to friend #1 and because she deeply understands me, she knew EXACTLY my point of view and damn near finished my sentences. She gets me, she understands me. While the other 2 friends listened, they didn’t quite understand my perspective the same way. Understanding takes effort. It takes time. It takes active listening and clarifying questions and having a genuine desire to see and hear your partner.
“To have someone understand your mind is a different kind of intimacy” – Unknown
Shared Interests – What is you and your partner’s “thing”? What’s the interest/hobby/activity that you BOTH love to do together? Maybe you both love fine wines & visiting vineyards and wineries together. Maybe your thing is volunteering together at a shelter. Maybe y’all like to collect passport stamps. Maybe your Friday night ritual is cooking together while listening to 90’s R&B. Having at least 2 or 3 shared interests is important because it gives you an exciting way to bond outside of the day-to day. It makes date nights more pleasurable because you’re both doing something you love with the person you love vs. checking a box.
Also, your “thing” shouldn’t just be paying the mortgage and trying to get your kids through college. It should be something fun, something outside of the mundane day-to-day. It should be something you actually look forward to.
Another thing about interests is that couples don’t have to do EVERYTHING together (it’s totally healthy to have an interest that is just for you). I hear people talk about being attached at the hip to their significant other. I’m a fan of the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” school of thought. In other words, it’s ok for your partner to go to their bowling league every Tuesday while you go to a paint and sip. You don’t have to love bowling just because he/she does. It’s ok to just do you sometimes.
Keep in mind that companionship alone without compatibility, chemistry, and commitment is basically just a friendship. These ingredients are interdependent and may provide a solid foundation for a healthy, happy relationship. At the end of the day, balance is key.
Next time, we’ll explore sexual chemistry and how it contributes to a relationship.