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Successful Relationships vs Successful Athletes

Our expectations of relationships are astronomical. If you have any doubts, let me draw you a picture.

In the American sport of baseball, a player who hits around .300 over the course of a season is considered a success. A player who hits around .400 over the course of a decade is often considered an All-Star. The way these hits look, doesn't matter. They can be bunts, singles, line drive doubles, nubs off the end of the bat, or, home runs over the fence. The overwhelming statistic here is that success is defined by doing something right about 30-40% of the time. I use baseball as an example because hitting a baseball is frequently referred to as 1 of the most difficult things to do in any sport. But what about basketball? A 50% shooting average is a good one, unless it's behind the 3 point line, then 30% is good enough. Michael Jordan, inarguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, is quoted over and over again reminding people that he has missed over 9000 shots; but still..... He is one of the greatest basketball players to ever walk on a court. He is defined in all athletic interpretations as "a success."

But, for real, lets think about it. In what area in life, other than in relationships, is "success" defined by such unattainable levels of "Awesome," that it requires a PERMANENT, all-in, lifetime commitment to something that makes us happy for 40, 50, or 60 years? Especially given all of life's variables- like kids, friends, career's, deaths, money, drugs, sex and rock n roll...... You get the point. It's like telling a baseball player that he has 1 pitch at 1 at bat to hit a homerun. If he does anything else, he is a failure. What if the pitch is a ball? Or what if he hits a single? Or what if he just misses? Does this mean he is a failure who sucks and nobody wants him on their team? Is there something horribly wrong with him and his choices or hitting style that need to be changed in order for him to be successful? In the world of relationships, the answer is YES.

It's hard to hear so many wonderful people I know display hatred towards themselves because of what they feel is a complete collapse in their character after a relationship ends, or, just never begins. When I hear these devastating stories, I always listen and empathize, (after all, I've been there many times), but eventually, I try and place some of their emotional self-abuse and the damaging words of others in perspective. "So.... this connection did not end up with you being happy forever and lasting for the rest of your life.... What else do you know that does? Because that is a REALLY high expectation to live up to." No wonder the "failure" rate is so high..... After all, a successful baseball career can be obtained with a 30% average for about 10 years.

So, what's the liklihood that we allow ourselves to just calm down and understand that we are all human? And that relationships, let alone permanent ones, are tough? I hit singles, strike out, walk, miss pitches, and hit home runs in the relationship world everyday- as most humans do. I am happy for my friends and family who are in a relationship, or are not in one, or who are trying to get in one, or WHATEVER- because just like when my teammates were up to bat, I was ALWAYS in the dugout cheering them on- regardless of how that at bat turned out. THIS makes sense to me. Lecturing, judging, stating stupid, meaningless clichés or asking them what's wrong with them for not hitting a home run- just doesn't.

My favorite pitch in softball was high and inside because I could use all my power & turn on it and hit hard to the left side of the field. However, it was also the pitch that, at one time, a pitcher from Stanford very expertly placed in my right eye socket, breaking my skull in 3 places. I felt like my face was going to explode, and I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. However, against the advice of all my doctors, (not that I told them), I took 1 week off before I stepped back onto the field with 2 black eyes, a broken nose, and an un-healed skull. Smart? Definitely not. Probably the dumbest thing I've ever done. But, I was in a relationship with my sport. I loved it, no matter what, and against all sanity, I rushed back to it. About 10 years after this, softball and I, "broke up," simply because there was nowhere else for our "relationship" to go, and it was just time to move on. But, there's not a day that goes by that I don't feel like this was a successful relationship. Not because I didn't fail, or suck sometimes, but because I was committed and believed in it and worked hard every day to succeed at it.

What if this is how we defined successful relationships, instead of the traditional ways we have been told? What if these were the qualities in our friends relationships that we supported? And not just whether or not they were married, divorced, pregnant, not pregnant, dating the wrong guys, dating the ugly guys, dating too many guys, not dating enough.... blah, blah, blah. It's all so uninspiring- because these types of judgments all set us up for one very depressing thing- failure.

I will end by going back to the beginning- our expectations of relationships are astronomical; and maybe the problem is not with the relationship- or lack thereof one, but rather with our definitions of success. Just something to think about..... be nicer to yourself. It's better that way.

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