“I think in most relationships that have problems, there’s fault on both sides. And in order for it to work, there has to be some common ground that’s shared. And it’s not just one person making amends.” ~Steve Carell

If I could write the rules of relationships, in general, there would be certain prerequisites for participation, starting with the simple requirement that both parties in a relationship learn and understand how (and why) they need to admit their part in any given misunderstanding or otherwise negative situation that comes up in the relationship.

Why? Because admitting fault is nearly always difficult. After all, if we say something is our fault, we mean, at the most basic level, that we did (or did not do) the thing that caused some negative outcome to happen.

I think sometimes we cannot admit fault because we truly believe we are right. Other times, even when we know that something we said, did or neglected to do was wrong, we feel like the circumstances surrounding it made it okay or reduced the wrongness somehow. And then there are some people who struggle to ever admit fault (or accept blame) for their parts in various negative outcomes.

Is it because they truly do not see how they are at fault, or is it that they can see it, but feel that someone else is to blame, somehow? Or worse, is it that they can see they are at fault but they choose to willfully attempt to deceive others by denying the truth?

Either way, admitting fault also requires each party to be able to accept him or her SELF without condition. You must be able to admit you have flaws to yourSELF and to be willing to either accept the consequences or create modification and understanding if your flaws are unchangeable. I think by accepting our own flaws and admitting to them, we also open the door for the other party in the relationship to do so.

If both parties can admit the part they played in a situation becoming whatever it becomes, then it may be easier for each to be open to creating a mutually satisfying compromise.

I suppose other benefits of admitting you may be at fault would be a clear conscious and perhaps a more honest ability to communicate. But then what do you do when you’re dealing with someone who will go the opposite way and never admit fault? Doesn’t this put that relationship at a distinct slant toward the persistent blamer?

I think the only possible outcome there is a toxic, sick relationship that ruins at least one of the two parties’ lives. But in a healthy, two-sided relationship, both parties would accept both “blame” for the stuff that they do wrong, along with the sacred responsibility to uphold the relationship and the person with whom they share it.

This requires a huge amount of humility on both parts, but also acceptance, tolerance and even an affinity for what makes each of the two people “a little weird” or “quirky” – because those intrinsic parts of a personality aren’t always changeable.

If you’re going to find your perfect partner in any kind of relationship, you have to be similar and yet different enough in nature that you can fit together well. And you have to have endless mutual empathy and compassion for one another.

You must support each other’s dreams. You must spend time together doing things that feel good, even if they seem insignificant in the moment. And you must support one another even when it sucks sometimes. But it has to be mutual. All of it.

There is no such thing as a healthy one-sided relationship for two adults. Outside of the responsibility every parent has for their child from conception to age 18, there should be no one-sided relationships, truly. And even our children give us an inordinate amount of joy and teach us love in a way many of us never understood before – so that’s not technically a one-sided deal.

Getting back to the point, I think it’s important and necessary for both parties to have passions and interests – shared ones as well as individual ones. And each should support or at the very least tolerate the other’s indulgence in said passions and interests, provided they do not violate the sanctity of the relationship, whatever the nature.

And while no single relationship can provide for every possible need we have, each party must also support the other on various levels (as appropriate for the nature of the relationship) and they must do so equally. That’s a big, huge, important fact.

Otherwise, at least one party will remain unsatisfied and thus at risk. And when the unsatisfied party begins to react (or to treat the other party in kind), the relationship is doomed to either end or become incredibly toxic.

So ultimately, a healthy relationship requires two people who are willing to be individuals who both give and get support in equal amounts to the other. And who tolerate, care about. Who each has empathy and compassion for one another on an infinite level. And who each has friends and other close connections outside the relationship and is supportive of the other’s effort to do so.

Thoughts? Tweet me @angieatkinson or tell me on Facebook.