Are relationships a gift or competition?

In my life I have noticed that many people approach relationships with others as a competition and not as a gift, which seems a better perspective to me. I see the following advantages/disadvantages to pursuing relationships as a competition:

Advantage:

  • If you are young, rich, successful, white/asian, intelligent, funny, you will do great.
  • If you have connections, social status, popularity, silver spoon, you will do great.

Disadvantage:

  • If you are old, handicapped, work for a non-profit, are a minority, average intelligence, you won’t do so well.
  • If you are average, middle/lower class, respected but not popular, non wealthy and the resultant less connections, you won’t do so well.
  • If your personal qualities change like from an accident, medicine or time, you may not be desirable any longer. How many divorces happen because people “fall out of love” and they say the other person “just isn’t the same anymore.”? Of course not, what do you expect? People are not machines. We change.

Are people less deserving of respect and success because of the circumstances of their birth? Not at all. Everyone deserves a life where they can give and enjoy the results of their labor. So to me, it seems that approaching relationships/life as a gift is a more useful model.

Advantage:

  • You feel grateful for what you have, and the circumstances of your life. You don’t look for happiness in material things, but spiritual/emotional/intellectual pursuits.
  • If your personal qualities change like from an accident, medicine or time, you will still be desirable. If they change from something in your control like criminal behavior or mid-life crisis, then you may not be desirable depending on your spouses preferences. Rather than be seen as just a product to be enjoyed, you are also a person with all the baggage that comes with that.
  • You don’t approach people like a product with a shopping list of qualities. You are open to who they are, and see how you feel with that person. At some point optimizing your experience fails. You just have to let life happen, and be amazed at the wonder of it. I have learned that when I stop judging and trying to “understand” what is happening, that life gives me great gifts of insight and meaning.

Disadvantage:

  • You may feel that you don’t have to work for anything because everything is given to you. It’s true many things are given, but it is the things we do with our determination and intelligence that only we can be proud of.
  • Struggling here, but you may not be an type A hard-driving personality or perfectionist, and you may feel that your value depends on what you “produce” or “achieve” in life.

So what seems to you a more helpful way to live?

“To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

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