30 Going on to 31: Building Relationships in Adulthood

There is a Japanese drama called “30拉警報” (English: Overtime), in which the storyline revolves around the “extended match” (or complicated social exchanges) that one experiences in the romantic arena after turning 30. It raises the question of how one can definitively determine who the right partner is if they haven’t experienced love with the right person.

The Marriage Distribution Curve

While, in general, the average age of marriage in Japan and Taiwan might be later than thirty years ago, I witness a marriage distribution akin to the shape of the letter “M” – some marry early before turning 30, while others marry later after 42.

Maturity in Relationships

Truthfully, the right person and the appropriate timing coincide when both individuals have matured mentally and biologically. I am not just referring to the maturity of a sexual reproductive system but also the maturity of our brain. Human brains reach adulthood around age 25, and this maturity brings benefits to a relationship with better planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and impulse control skills. Also, it gives couples a better chance to hold each other’s hands through thick and thin or know when to part ways peacefully.

The Importance of Compatibility

According to some articles about love and relationships, compatible relationships* often occur when two people (or a group of people) share similar interests and thoughts. (*Here, “Relationship” is used to distinguish from other interpersonal relationships that are not romantic.)

Challenges in Practice

You might be thinking, “Isn’t this obvious?” But oddly enough, it’s rather challenging to put into practice. How often have we forced ourselves to adapt to people’s needs with whom we have no common interests or ideas? How often do we want to be the “good person” even when we don’t want to play along? Some may argue, “That it’s different! You can choose who to marry but might not be able to choose your boss or family.”

The Choice to Change

You’re right. And, because it’s not something you can choose, such as your boss or family, you can only choose to change yourself—be it your thoughts, habits, or actions. Sounds easy, right?

Managing Emotions

Today, I encountered a frustrating situation (2015). However, while writing this article, I realized I had valid principles, and they can differ from someone else’s, yet both make sense through our viewpoints. In such a situation, instead of fighting for the “correct” answer, it’s much better to let the other person try their way. After all, it’s their life that they want to experience, even though I might see the problems coming miles ahead. Watching someone I care about sabotaging themselves does not make me happy, but I can choose to manage my own emotions.

Embracing Happiness

So, you might ask, “Do I have to stay unhappy for the rest of my life, knowing that someone I care about is going down the wrong path?” Of course not! Unhappy emotions are unhealthy, and it would be optimal if we keep those we could manage and release those we couldn’t. And while we are doing that, we would benefit more if we learn how to find people and things that can ignite positivity in ourselves and others.

Nurturing Relationships

Meanwhile, what about the person on the wrong path whom you care about? Try cultivating common interests and discussing topics the two of you can relate to. It will create more neutral ground between the both of you and nurture your ability to get along with one another.

Finding Common Ground

Remember, no two people are 100% compatible (parents, partners, classmates, colleagues, teachers, students). So, to build an enjoyable relationship, we need to find and nurture common ground for both individuals to participate in. And, if both individuals in a relationship are not inherently bad or wrong, maybe both need to consider that maybe they are just not meant for each other. Perhaps people shouldn’t force each other to be together, and it might be time to learn how to let go and move on!

I wish everyone could find people and things that can ignite positivity in themselves and others and learn how to let go.


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