Knowing what’s important

We were speaking about what’s important in a relationship, and everyone agreed on a number of ‘good qualities’ centring on friendship, trust, communication and honesty. NO-one mentioned intimacy or sex. Here’s the conversation that followed:

“It seems that without these – trust, friendship, truth, sense of humour, companionship – there’s no intimacy. And you don’t always need great shows – a pat on the shoulder can be enough.”

“For the record,” adds a woman in her 40s, “I wish I’d known that these basic qualities were what really mattered when I was 16. I wouldn’t have made the choices I made. The relationship I went into had none of those qualities. I think lots of people would echo that – but that’s experience, that’s life isn’t it.”

“Well I can remember falling for the wrong people and being bitterly heartbroken,” says a woman in her 80s.

And this, from a woman in her 60s: “The trouble is at 16 you think you know everything. And it’s only when you get older you realise you knew nought.”

“And you assume everybody thinks like you, at the age of 16, you don’t realise.”

At this point, the 16 year old in the room admits that she doesn’t think she knows it all – far from it, but she does experience some pressure from her peers.

A woman almost twice her age shares her thoughts: “It’s about being confident enough in what you are, and what you believe, and what you want, to actually be able to go, ‘NO, that’s not right, I’m going to walk away now’. And there’s a feeling sometimes, a fear, of – ‘if I leave this relationship there won’t be another one’. So What! So What – you’ve left it with your self-respect, you know, as long as you’ve got the confidence to say ‘you’re not going to talk to me like that, I don’t want to be in this situation’, well that’s fine.”