by Niall Doherty

What defines the success of a romantic relationship? Does breaking up equate to failure?

I don’t think so. If you were to define a successful relationship as one that lasts forever and ever, until death do you and your other half part, then you’ll likely only have one successful relationship in your entire life. And that’s only if you get lucky.

To me, a successful relationship is one that both people get heaps of enjoyment from, and they both find themselves better off after than they were before. (Perhaps not immediately after, because break-ups are often rough. But that’s some of your best growth right there, confronting and dealing with that pain.)

In general, I think we humans have a better approach to business than we do to romance.

You can have many successful business ventures throughout your life. You can start a business, invest in it, work hard to build it up. You learn a bunch of valuable lessons and enjoy the journey. But maybe you get to a point where it’s no longer right for you. Perhaps it’s not generating enough revenue or you’re no longer finding fulfillment in the work. No big deal. You can decide to call it quits, before resentment sets in. You sever ties with the business, no hard feelings. Things had just run their course. Later, you move along to something more fulfilling.

Why can’t we do the same with romance?

You get into a relationship with someone, you both have great times together, but then you realize that it’s not meant to be forever, or your lives take you in different directions, you grow apart. No worries. You can both leave the relationship with mutual respect and best wishes.

It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, the end. You don’t have to hate each other’s guts before calling it quits. I’ve ended relationships before that had been going well. It just felt like the right thing to do, the right time to move on. I don’t consider those relationships failures. Far from it.

I believe failure only happens when we become attached to a specific outcome. Whether in business or romance, success shouldn’t be defined by the outcome, but rather by what we learn along the way, and the experiences/memories we’re left with.

Some people are out there waiting for the one perfect partner or the one perfect business opportunity, terrified of getting into something uncertain and risking failure. I say fuck that. It’s never going to be perfect, and it’s impossible to avoid that traditional definition of failure, no matter how picky you might be.

I say make the best of what’s presented to you, jump on those opportunities, and then aim to make the most of the experience. Learn all you can while you’re in it, then happily move along to whatever comes next.

That, to me, is success, whether in business or romance.

(Thanks to @StellaSzeto for the discussion that prompted this post. You should definitely follow her on the Tweet machine.)