Looking Inside Relationships From The Outside

We all put up a facade to some extent. A wall or a screen, in the hopes that we look as we hope to be. Or maybe the wall is there to hide ourselves from judgement, criticism, and imagined fears. We live behind the screen to shield our true lives. But facades aren’t just for personal use, and they aren’t always consciously constructed. Any relationship can build up a facade that they present to their friends, their family.  

Which begs the question: do we really know what is happening in a relationship that isn’t our own? We may have our noses pressed up to the window, and know some of the dirty deeds that the couple partakes in, but does that inform us of the inner workings of the relationship? No it doesn’t. Relationships are little webs of magic, delicately weaved together. You know the incantation and can see the result, but you have no idea how it got there or how the magic works.

Love is magic. There are people who come together like tea and honey, and then the opposites who are differently shaped, but fit together like puzzle pieces. Both types end up together and to all outward appearances, either blossom and thrive or wither and rot. All you see is what you’re allowed to watch and hear, without knowing the inner workings

Relationships are woven together in delicate fashion. Made up of compromises, from what color to paint the bathroom, to which parents to visit for the holidays. They are full of understanding, including that your partner will still be attracted to people, or their passion doesn’t include making a lot of money. And they contain sympathy and compassion, like when your partner soothes away your irrational but potent fears, or supports you through emotional trauma.

The bulk of relationships lie underneath the surface. How partners visibly treat each other is a good clue as to what their relationship may be like, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. The ones that look like they are destined to wither may really be full of promising buds. Maybe he seems not to appreciate her. She talks about how he constantly flirts (and how she hates that). Maybe they simply bicker in front of you, or the waiter, and everyone they come into contact with.

Or in the case of actors Ian Somerhalder and wife Nikki Ross, perhaps it’s a husband throwing away birth control pills. Fans, women, and advocates alike reacted on social media about how throwing away birth control pills is a form of coercing a woman into having children. They rightly called out and questioned a potentially dangerous and abusive situation. Both Ross and Somerhalder have since made it clear that they both decided together to become pregnant, and that they were not intending to make light of anything.

And this is where it becomes questionable, dangerous even. What do you do if you believe the couple just isn’t right for one another? Is it your duty to talk your worries over with your friend about their relationship and partner? Do you say anything?  Because you don’t know what agreements (such as if it is an open relationship) they have within their relationship. You don’t know what they are like behind closed doors, how they talk to one another, how they care for each other.

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photo of a man carrying his partner

But if you are seriously concerned that some type of abuse is happening, then yes, say something. While we never know what is going on in a relationship, an abuser can sometimes be easier to spot from the outside than from the inside. A partner in an abusive relationship may be in denial, may make justifications, or may assume that it is normal and healthy. But someone from the outside may be able to see the red flags. Once you’ve decided to say something, approach your friend in a loving manner. Let them know that you love them and support them. Tell her you want the best for her. And then express your concerns and why you have them.

Even seemingly perfect, content, and happy relationships are not exactly what they seem. The facade can be up, a painting of marital bliss But not every apparently happy relationship is secretly abusive and full of anger. Nor is every seemingly unhappy relationship a secretly match-made in heaven. Each relationship is unique, and sometimes outsiders may be able to tell what is going on. But most of the time, we’re all clueless to the secret lives of the relationships of our friends, of our family. We all make assumptions and conclusions based off of what we see.

We may be able to take just a glimpse of the romance magic, or we are faced (unknowingly) with facades. Relationships are magic. It may be good magic or a working of the dark arts. We see the results, but the way they work, the way they behave will always be a mystery to outsiders.

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