Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

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SilentDawning
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Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by SilentDawning » 22 Jun 2019, 21:16

This evening I was reviewing all my relationships over my lifetime and it raised this question.

I realized that most of my friendships -- even close ones -- have either been forgotten as I moved around on the planet, or someone did something to make the relationship no longer viable. A good chunk of the relationships have deteriorated to the point I don't have anything to do with the people anymore - sometimes because the other person did something -- an insult, a broken promise, expecting too much, too much repetition in the relationship, or just being plain irritating. Sure, I still have my wife and immediate biological family members, and of course, there is a temple sealing which is supposed to provide administrative longevity to relationships, but even in these situations, people seem to grow apart as they age, particularly given how easy it is to move around on the planet or tire of their personalities.

Overall, I find relationships tend not to survive for very long periods of time. Here are examples.

1. I called on old boss with whom I had a good relationship years ago. We check in at certain times. We talked briefly in a very good conversation about a topic of past mutual interest, but she had another appointment and said she'd call me back. She never did.

2. My parents will talk to me briefly if I call, but generally, have no interest in my life. They are 80 so I get it, but that's the truth. If I don't call them, they never call me; been the case for over a decade and most of my life since I got married.

3. My sister is very busy but has initiated conversation, but wants an email every few months or so updating her on my life. When I call, she' either presenting papers worldwide and in a non-feasible time zone, or has had a busy day and can only text (her profession requires a lot of talking to others when not traveling and presenting research). My feeling is she wants me connected (after several decades of not having time for the relationship at all), because my parents are aging and she doesn't want to be the only one funding their situation.

4. My brother has been extremely harsh over the years and abrasive, so I don't care to talk to him much. He is always too busy anyway running a business.

5. I had a good friend of 25 years, but he seems uninterested in much interaction in recent years. If I stopped calling him I think I'd never hear from him again. I called after six months of silence and his wife indicated they were about to sit down to read scriptures and were too busy to chat. I said I'd call again, but if I don't, I don't think I'll hear from him again.

6. I had a really good friend I met in my community service activities 8 years ago. That relationship deteriorated when she promised me funds from a partnership on an event, and never followed through.

7. Over 50% of marriages end in divorce, and the remainder, I am sure a lot of them are not entirely happy. I am sure many stick together for financial/legal reasons or reasons not necessarily related to sheer vibrancy in their intimacy/love. I believe there are a few lucky ones out there too, so as not to paint them all as bad. But the divorce rate is pretty high for the people having been in love at one time.

8. None of my relationships from past Church wards survive the move. It seems the relationship is there for the time you are in the Ward and not beyond it.

9. I had a good friend in the church who encouraged me to seek an advanced degree. He was 10 years older, had me into his home, actually had me house sit when he was on international travel, and we were pretty good friends. I resisted getting the advanced degree, and he kept pressing me. We stayed in touch for about 6 years afterwards. 20 years later I got the degree. I called and wrote to him to reconnect and chat -- he never responded to any of my messages - not my phone call to his secretary, or my snail mail letter to his work.

10. As I get older, I find the younger generation is less interested in relationships than people your own age, or older. Therefore, the friendship pool gets smaller and smaller as you get older.

It seems to me that we are built for temporary relationships with people -- maybe for a few years, or only during the time circumstances put us together in some kind of working, or unavoidable social relationships. Not for long-term relationships.

The getting to know each other, or the achievement/imperatives of a specific situation make the relationship work for a while. But after a while we tire of each other, trust is broken or other factors cause us to stop investing in those relationships. It also seems to me that if we are to have fulfillment in life we need to be happy with short-term relationships, and most of all, to learn to enjoy solitude.

Is this your experience? Do you have many deep, long-term relationships? Are relationships really meant to survive for the long-term?
Last edited by SilentDawning on 23 Jun 2019, 06:50, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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DarkJedi
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by DarkJedi » 23 Jun 2019, 05:36

I would say at least some of my experiences have been similar. I don't have regular contact with anyone I graduated high school or college with, nor do I have regular contact with any of my Army "buddies" or missionary companions. When I have left jobs generally I have left any of those relationships as well. The only long term friendships I currently have are a couple people in my ward where I have lived since 1989, and even those could easily fall by the wayside (as attested to by my period of inactivity). Family relationships are extremely variable from family to family, mine is not a particularly close family and I have siblings I have not seen in years, but my wife's is very close. I should note here that I also don't do social media.
Are relationships really meant to survive for the long-term?
My answer to the question with a question is "meant by whom?" I believe God does want us to love and care about one another. I think most people want to have continuing relationships after death, and that's one attraction of our church (although other Christians also believe in the possibility of relationships after death). Honestly, I don't know that God cares one way or the other as long as we love our neighbor, but I'm sure some of the ardent temple believers will differ with that opinion.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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SilentDawning
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by SilentDawning » 23 Jun 2019, 10:08

Thanks...seems like your experience is like mine to some extent. Meant by whom? By the God who created this infrastructure. It seems the nature of human beings is to bring such imperfection to their relationships that such relationships, at least, the deep ones, don't survive for very long periods of time. The productive relationships work for the period people need each other, but then dissipate afterwards.

One way to fill the void is through service, it seems, but even that can be wearing and empty if there is simply work but no relationship. Service coupled with fulfilling relationships can be wonderful though.

Research shows that people who have a network of good relationships live longer and are happier. So, if you are the kind if person who needs relationships, it seems best to seek relationships in positive contexts, enjoy them while you can, and then move on to new semi temorary relationshios in new contexts after the earlier relationships lose their luster. Occasionally you might hit on a good friendship that outlasts the average length of a relationship, but even that may not last forever.

Personality theory shows that some people want and need a small number of deep friendships. Others prefer a lot of shallow relationships. I think the latter group would be much happier in this life than the former group given the tendency for humanity's imperfection to lead to the deterioration of the deep relationships.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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DarkJedi
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by DarkJedi » 23 Jun 2019, 10:28

So, the Deist in me says God doesn't care and this whole relationship thing is man-made. In my view that includes the eternal part if it. However, I hope I'm wrong.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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SilentDawning
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by SilentDawning » 24 Jun 2019, 06:35

DarkJedi wrote:
23 Jun 2019, 10:28
So, the Deist in me says God doesn't care and this whole relationship thing is man-made. In my view that includes the eternal part if it. However, I hope I'm wrong.
The Deist view, in my understanding, is that God isn't really involved in the day to day affairs of humans. He did set up the world to run, but stays out of it afterwards. It's hands off.

But I think this means that he did consciously set up the infrastructure -- the opposition of good and evil, the fact that we all die, the fact that we aren't perfect. And he had to know the general outcomes and trends of his design before he set the world and humanity in motion.

My conclusion is that people generally have relationships with people of a practical nature. For the long term, imperfection pees in the pool of long-term relationships. Therefore, you have to be lucky enough to have a close family. People in relationships need to make the necessary investment to keep relationships healthy. In general, you have to be willing to apologize, and be humble toward others or relationship, like all things on this earth, die without tending.

There are times, I think when people consciously let relationships die. For some, they become toxic and need to be removed from their lives. Others let self-centeredness or their personal imperfections destroy relationships the would have otherwise liked to see continue.

The other thing to consider. Temple sealings mean a lot to many people -- but in my view, they are purely administrative. In our theology, they provide "legal" recognition of our unions in the eternities, but they don't guarantee any kind of fulfilling relationship for the long term. In other words, sealings don't shield people from the effects of entropy in relationships. It takes the same amount of work to make them long-term as it does for people who have no such sealing. And in the end, I would be very surprised if God would force two people to stay together who no longer want to be together.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jun 2019, 12:19

Capable? Yes. Modern life makes it happen relatively infrequently now.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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SilentDawning
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by SilentDawning » 24 Jun 2019, 13:27

Curt Sunshine wrote:
24 Jun 2019, 12:19
Capable? Yes. Modern life makes it happen relatively infrequently now.
How so? I would have thought that with all the different ways we have to communicate -- email,phone, face-timing, facebook etcetera, that it would be easier than in the past. But maybe I'm missing something.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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mom3
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by mom3 » 24 Jun 2019, 16:34

How so? I would have thought that with all the different ways we have to communicate -- email,phone, face-timing, facebook etcetera, that it would be easier than in the past.
My take... it's all about where our heart is. By "our" I mean mine to others and others to mine.

When people are invested, then long lasting relationships develop. I know people who are and have been lifelong friends. Even with significant differences.

From my seat in the house technology and advances often make it easier to disconnect. It is much easier to build a relationship, when you can push a button and shut it off. Or you can set up your technology to only allow what you want to come in. That isn't a relationship. For some it may be a safety net. But for plenty of others it just becomes a happy echo chamber.

I find that technology makes people more surly, divisive, dismissive, irresponsible.

Friendships have always been hard. Question is "What do we contribute to the relationship?" Do we try to build? Are we in it just for us? Do we carry grudges? All of those go back to the heart. Or bedside manner. Both analogies work.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Minyan Man
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by Minyan Man » 24 Jun 2019, 18:47

My opinion is: we are social beings. We need human contact. Some need it more than others. Some of us seem to do it naturally,
others have to work on it. For me, it starts with my family & radiates outward from there. Are my relationships capable of lasting
forever? Only time will tell.

Is this one of the purposes for the "Ministry" program? Instead of observing behavior & trying to correct bad behavior, are we now
trying to establish relationships (friendships) & apply the gospel in a more natural way?

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SilentDawning
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Re: Are relationships really capable of lasting forever?

Post by SilentDawning » 24 Jun 2019, 19:21

Minyan Man wrote:
24 Jun 2019, 18:47
My opinion is: we are social beings. We need human contact. Some need it more than others. Some of us seem to do it naturally,
others have to work on it. For me, it starts with my family & radiates outward from there. Are my relationships capable of lasting
forever? Only time will tell.

Is this one of the purposes for the "Ministry" program? Instead of observing behavior & trying to correct bad behavior, are we now
trying to establish relationships (friendships) & apply the gospel in a more natural way?
I've never really felt the ministering or HT program was about long term relationships en masse. Assigned relationship building has its limits. The fact that most of the HT relationships stop after reassignments are made is evidence of this.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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