Relationships are what shape us and our lives. But it’s also the relationships that we are not having. Looking up the term “relationship” in the dictionary, the following meanings can be found: 1. connection, contact between individuals or groups. 2. internal connection, mutual relationship.

Colloquially, the term “bubble” is often used, when describing a person and the social environment in which he/she moves. In most cases, a bubble is formed by family relationships, friendships, acquaintances, professional relationships and individual interactions.

Visually, you can imagine it like this: We are all small spheres, floating around in our various sized bubbles. With some spheres our bubbles connect, grow larger, and become smaller as bubbles separate from each other. With some we are connected for a lifetime.

In my life, there are several relationships that I can definitely say shaped me, my life and my character. One of these is the relationship with my brother. He and I share a carefree childhood, marked by the love and support of our mother and our father. Until we both left our parents’ home and started our “own” lives, we had a sister-brother relationship that was quite classic for our bubble. One grants the other much, but not everything. One argues, mostly over trivial things or simply venting frustration. We were just that: close in place, but distanced from each other mentally.

Later, when our parents separated, this relationship changed profoundly. We were united by anger, sadness and fear, and at some point by a deep trust. Which today I cannot give to anyone else to the same extent. My brother is the person who gives my life a great sense of meaning. Our relationship gives me hold.

The relationship with my parents is also essential. They have shown me, both in their own way, what love feels like. Unconditional love.

I associate the relationship with my mother with reliability, but also with devotion and sometimes even self-sacrifice. I think the latter is typically female, I think many women lose sight of their own goals and their own needs in relationships. This is not an accusation, rather it is often owed to a cultural-historical imprint of our education. We women take care – of everything and everyone.

I too catch myself – although not quite as dedicated as my mother – displaying this behavior.

So I quickly feel responsible for people around me. In fact, this is not a bad trait. I think it makes people feel comfortable spending time with me. I don’t mean to say that I have a mother complex and take care of people like a mother takes care of her child. No, I think it’s a distinctly empathetic ability; I can sense when people are disappointed, get angry, or even happy. Sometimes it’s very enriching, sometimes it’s very exhausting. I am learning not to always put out my “feelers.” This is a long process that continues through all of my own relationships, both friendships and romantic partnerships.

When should you take care of yourself, when should you care for others?

When should you share your thoughts and expect to receive evaluation?

And when should you listen to your own gut?

I think besides caring, reliability and simply being there for each other, there are two other important aspects in relationships that influence them and the people involved. One is the aspect of time: The more time we spend together, the more we experience together, the more impressions and facets of each other string together. After all, people say “we’ve been through thick and thin” – when talking about particularly close and long-lasting relationships.

In romantic relationships, but also in friendships, there is also the aspect of sharing. By this I don’t mean the sharing of material goods, but the sharing of emotions. Being able to laugh together, grieve together, get angry together and also remain in silence with each other. I think this kind of sharing needs some kind of relationship as a basis.

But since none of my writing is without a “but”, let’s finish this one::

I have already learned a lot about other people, about myself in all the relationships that accompany my life. But, I have to learn to live with the finality of relationships.  The fear of abandonment determines my behaviour far too often. I prefer to withdraw before the other person does. I start to argue before the other person reproaches me. I tell myself that it is over before it has even begun to collapse.

But the finite nature of our relationships is as much a part of life as death. And that is also a good thing. I don’t want to live forever.

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