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Finding the middle ground in relationships and in life

By Priyanka Hardikar
Feature Image: Clem Onojeghuo – Unsplash

One thing I have learned is that we are always going to have days where we make “questionable” decisions – or decisions that may not align with our goals. It is a part of being human. Some days, we will choose to follow our heart, instead of our brain, and in the moment, it will feel incredible – but the next day, not so much. But these experiences we have when we follow our heart are invaluable. They make us feel more alive. They help us to see the world through a new lens. They remind us to not take life for granted. They teach us what we need to learn. We view them as mistakes, as missteps, as recklessness, but I don’t think that is what they are. I think of them as moments when we decided to be brave, to live life fully and freely.

For that reason alone, it is important to not dwell on the decision, but rather to forgive yourself for it right away and to learn from it. In the past, had I stayed up all night talking to someone I had just met on a dating app – I would have felt like a complete idiot. I would have tried “punishing” myself for not having more discipline or not setting more boundaries, for getting completely swept away in someone I did not know. But I know why I did it. It was the spontaneity in me talking, the romantic, the dreamer, all the aspects that helped form the writer that I am today. We connected on such a deeper level, and I didn’t want that love-inspired feeling that I had to end. Not yet. So, I chose to go with my heart. Even if it meant sacrificing sleep, yet again. And I don’t regret it at all.

For the first time since my last relationship, I felt the desire to get to know another man, to really know him, and that was – is – a beautiful, refreshing feeling. I met someone who appears to have not only all the qualities I adored in my previous relationship, but he has his own that set him apart, that makes me like him more. I know that it is still too early to really know him, and that there is a lot of value in keeping myself in check. Like my mom said to me so wisely: “Don’t fall in love with someone until you really know him, and he has proven to you that he is a good person and worth your love.”

And yet, at the same time, it’s not like we intentionally fall in love with the wrong people. It’s just that we have a tendency to rush into relationships – to “fall” in love, instead of walking into it, or easing into it. Just the word “falling” is so telling. The problem is, when we “fall” into anything, we often lose perspective. It is hard to think straight when you have rushed into something, when you haven’t thought it through completely. We end up feeling like we are caught off guard. This isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s the best thing because it takes us to a path we didn’t know was there. Unfortunately, though, it can also steer us in the wrong direction, or leave us feeling like we have lost control of where we are going, like we are suddenly sitting in the passenger seat of our own life.

I felt this way so often in my last relationship. Like I couldn’t ever predict what my emotions would be and where they would take me. Years later, I realized that my emotions were never the issue; the issue was how I allowed my emotions, my whims, to guide me into making decisions that didn’t empower me.

I was like a pendulum – swinging in one direction and then the next, and then again, and then again. It doesn’t feel good to be this way, and it also isn’t particularly easy on the other person in the relationship. It’s like you’re always at extremes, always in battle with what you want to do and what you think you should do. You are never at peace with your actions or decisions because you are denying yourself the option to live your life guilt-free. A counselor told me once to find the middle ground, and this has been very difficult for me. But I learned that there is always a middle ground.

In a relationship, if we feel a lack of clarity, we always have the choice to take a step back and reflect – without drastically changing anything. It’s usually when we feel the most urgency to make a decision, that we should wait. We should give ourselves time to pause and reflect and really reevaluate the situation before we do something that we don’t even truly believe in. We should ask ourselves: Does this decision align with my values? Or is it something I’m doing to punish myself for not living up to my own expectations?

The message in our “mistakes” is clear, but often we don’t hear it because we are too busy dwelling on the mistake itself. The beauty in finding the middle ground is understanding that we can have both – the spontaneity in following our hearts but also the wisdom of listening to our brains.

Finding the middle ground in any aspect of our life is essentially about finding balance. I think of balance as living in harmony with what we want and what we need, instead of living in constant battle with our thoughts. Finding the middle ground is about accepting what you want, and figuring out how to incorporate it in your life, in a healthy and balanced way. Instead of attacking yourself for wanting the things you want, remind yourself there is nothing wrong with you. You are in the driver’s seat and you do have control over your life, even when it doesn’t feel that way at the moment. Remind yourself that there is no hurry; you don’t have to make a decision right now. Instead, take a moment to pause and reflect and ask yourself: How can I find the middle ground in this situation? What decision will bring me the most harmony? Listen to whatever comes up for you without judgment and know that you always have the power to change directions, to readjust, to find the middle ground in relationships and in life, in the most extreme of situations.

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