What if there were a way to predict how relationships will unfold over time?

New beginnings are ripe with possibility. A fledgling relationship, a coveted job,or moving to a new town all present a bright, shining opportunity to get it right. At these times, we tend to idealize the situation, not only putting our best face forward but looking for the greatest good in others. There inevitably comes a time when the honeymoon is over and we can no longer overlook the vulnerability that sits just below the surface, that place in others where they are fallible.

I am suggesting that the real juice in any relationship comes from the difficult times, when faced with the worst in others? And by worst, I mean the inability to cover up those tender and vulnerable places that may present themselves as difficult or uncooperative. It’s at those moments that we have the most to learn. The invitation is to be ready when the cracks in the seemingly - perfect veneer begin to appear. The challenges posed when confronting someone’s worst self is where growth resides, for both you and the other person.

What determines how well two people will function over time has less to do with how our best selves get along. How will you do with the worst in me? And how will I do with the worst in you?

You might want to try it. Whether you are courting a new business partner or a new romantic partner, by all means get fully enthused how the best in them brings forward the best in you. Then think also about the worst. When we can see how we will rub against each other — challenge stuck places and irritate in ways we do everything we can to avoid — and still want to engage…then we have something that will endure.

That will set us up to be open and attentive at those times when either one is being difficult, angry or moody. Stones become smooth when their rough edges rub up against those of another stone. What you’ll find at the end of the day is that growth through the difficult times is much more fulfilling than a steady stream of rainbows and sunsets.