![homesteaders copy 2.png](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/riverflows/7xNlgU3v-homesteaders20copy202.png) One of the saddest things about my life is seeing my man long for a friendship, and for his family. His love life is fulfilling, still in love with the woman he married sixteen years ago. Yep, that's me, and I'm awesome! All jokes aside, we do have a great relationship. We've worked hard on trust, and love. It's been worth it. We are each others greatest confidantes, and miss each other across the day if we're apart. Romance isn't yet dead - we work on that too. We're both grateful for the strength of our relationship and still marvel that we even met, let alone make the decision to get married within some two days of meeting each other. If one of us died before the other, I think it'd be him that suffered the most. Not because I love him *less*, just because I try to avoid relying on individual people for happiness. Perhaps it's my fiercely independent nature, or perhaps it's because philosophically I don't think it's wise to pin all your hopes and dreams on a single person, or define yourself soley by your relationships with others. I try to be a little more self reliant than that. <center>`Everything In the Universe Is Within You. Ask All From Yourself - Rumi`</center> Despite how happy we are together, he still longs for *other* connections too - ones I cannot fulfil. It's difficult for him - he's not Australian born and raised, and finds it difficult sometimes to relate to people here, unless they are well travelled, more worldly. It's no accident that the friends we do have are often married to a partner from elsewhere in the world. Yet those close friends are spread far and wide, and we rarely see them. His mother and sister live on the other side of the world and he worries about them constantly. I wish I could move back to England, but on the other hand, I can't - for I'd be the one desperately lonely, and missing my family. This is the problem of cross cultural relationships everywhere. The desire to have contact with friends is a significant one in all age groups, one that makes everyone feel lonely, according to studies.<sup>(https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0091415016655166?journalCode=ahdb),</sup> And the older you get, the more likely you are to have no close friends or confidantes as people you know die, move away or no longer have time for the friendships of youth.<sup>(https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0898264307301178?icid=int.sj-abstract.similar-articles),</sup> Many of the people our own age have young children, or are busy with careers. It becomes harder to meet people the older you get. When you are young, it seems that everyone's a potential friend. I watched my ten year old nephew take off across a field exploring with a kid his age he'd only just met, yet as an adult, we are more cautious and seem to see more differences in the people around us. And all the while, the research tells us that loneliness can cause ill health and a shortened life expectancy. I don't personally don't feel the need for friendships. To me, being on my own is far safer. This speaks of the damage of teenage years - being bullied taught me to seek sanctuary away from others, and there is less intensity to life if I can make the rules about who I interact with. Good friends know to persist - new friends are puzzled by cancelled plans or reluctance to 'pop over' for a cuppa. To me, that's fraught with danger. It's only very good friends that I feel comfortable with, and I am lucky enough to have a best friend since I was 11. We consider each other family because we are so close, and know each other so well. My man envies me that. He has never formed such a close friendship. I wonder who I'd be without her, but then, I have spent years without her, and only catch up once or twice a year. She's the eagle flying overhead, she texts. She's always with me. Loves me unconditionally. I feel blessed to have her in my life. My desire to connect to others is certainly present, but I am satisfied with my online relationships or striking up conversations with utter strangers at the supermarket. I take after my mother than way. We'll talk ten to the dozen to people we don't even know, whilst our men stand back and barely say a word. I love people - they are beautiful. I just don't need them all the time. I'm happy with my own company. Give me a hermitage in a forest, or a deserted beach for days. That sounds just grand to me. My girlfriend agrees - we laugh that maybe one day we'll be forest hermits, sweeping insects carefully from porches and meditating as the sun goes down. Without occasional trips to the city, to soak up a healthy dose of people energy. <center> ![image.png](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/riverflows/Xgb45TjP-image.png) **Entering the forest: Burma, 2017** </center> My family is a different story, and it's this part of my man's sadness that I keenly feel. We don't talk about it much, or it ends in argument - something along the lines of: 'but you have your family here' and me arguing they are his family too. This is true - they love him, and would do anything for him. I imagine myself in Somerset, pining for home, listening to Dad play guitar or Mum talk about her latest recipe for sourdough. When we thought we were going to lose Dad this year to cancer, I went into a tailspin. Who was I, without my father? Who would love me the way Dad loves me? Understands me the way Dad does? Being so close to my father, I felt the impending loss keenly. It's been a journey towards letting go, though he's still with us. One day, those we love will no longer be with us, and we still walk on, drawing solace from our relationships with the people still here. In the end, any kind of long term happiness that depends on others solely is doomed. Romantic love comes and goes, deepens into friendship and the long lasting, profound love that settles in lovers that have not met, but been in each other all along, as Rumi so poetically puts it. I feel this way about my husband, but I cannot depend on him for my own happiness - life is rich and long and full of many things, and one man cannot fulfil all my heart's desires and longings, and one day, one of us will die, and we must find a way to be happy. Family may provide emotional and financial support, and a sense of being truly home, but not all family dynamics are so blessed as mine. Getting wrapped up in expectations of how they *should* be or how family *should* behave is bound to end in disappointment. Friendships too come and go. Nothing is permanent. <center> ![image.png](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/riverflows/UEkbzBTa-image.png) **Me and my truest love, caught in a moment.** </center> Everything changes. Where then does happiness lie? True happiness can only reside within the self, in our heart of hearts. To know that we are connected to all things - to the sky above, the earth below, the beating hearts of millions of beings whose hearts too beat rhythm with ours. To know that we are alive in this envelope of flesh, blessed with this gift of life, each breath another blessing. To find joy despite the suffering. To know that life goes on, and on, as long as we draw breath. Outside this window, a rosella lands on the fencepost. The wind tickles the silvery leaves of the olives. Waves of clouds move through the sky. My man will be home soon, and I'll make him a cuppa and ask him how his day was, and he'll throw his arms around me and I'll be silly happy. Dad'll ring to chat about a song he heard, or my nephew will text me something silly on Discord. We're planning a trip to Tasmania to see my sister from another mister and her husband where they live in a bus in a forest outside Hobart. The pain of knowing all of this will pass is the lining on the joy - but the joy is also the lining on the sadness. How wonderful it is to be human. How wonderful it is to be divine. We're all here in the same infinite space. Be happy with what you have, right here and now. The heart finds it hard, sometimes, to grasp the most universal of truths. Nothing can be depended on for happiness, and everything can. <center>`Do Not Feel Lonely: The Whole Universe is Inside You - Rumi`</center> ###### This is a response to Tribe Steem Up's Question of the Week, posed by @elamental: 'What kind of relationship is most vital for long term happiness: family, friendship or romantic?'.