I never thought I’d be interested in historical relationships but the show Genius by National Geographic (streaming on Disney) really got my wheels spinning.
I hope I’m not spoiling the story for you as Albert Einstein’s love stories were quite debatable and surprisingly relevant to modern relationships.
While they had a wind whirl romance as students, her marriage life with Einstein was miserable.
She could’ve had a bright future as a scientist but she got pregnant with his child and didn’t get a degree. During their marriage, she helped him with his papers, struggling with her responsibility as a mother, but was never credited. He left her alone most of the time and ended up cheating on her with his cousin, Elsa, who then became his second wife.
In one of the scenes, a woman at a party told Mileva, “It must be so intimidating being married to a genius. I’d always be afraid of saying something stupid.” and Mileva responded, “Not at all. He’s the one who’s always being foolish.”
The show illustrated artfully the different dynamics between Einstein and his two wives.
While Elsa fell for him at the height of his career, Mileva had been there since the beginning, at times even better than him at school work. She felt like his equal and didn’t look up to him the same way other women idolised him. He ultimately failed her as a husband, father, and even (intellectual) partner, and she resented him.
Their relationship had many problems — and there were so many lessons worth learning from Mileva’s life a.k.a. what not to do as a woman, but it was clear that mutual admiration was missing between them as their marriage unraveled.
Admiration is recognising and attributing high value to certain qualities in someone. Without admiration, a relationship is dull, full of nitpicking, and can turn intolerable. Admiration might be the key component of the so-called “spark.”
I could definitely relate to this problem, looking at my past relationships.
I only felt attracted to the people I could admire and when I lost that admiration for them, things turned rocky.
I would be critical of everything they did and pick fights out of nowhere. Nothing they offered could ever be enough for me anymore. Something was missing. And I bet they felt the same way too — they didn’t think I fit the bill of a girlfriend or a wife as I sold myself short anyway.
When I met my fiance, it was a completely different story.
At that point, I’d already rebuilt myself and published my first book — I felt proud of myself. And my fiance was too. There’s mutual respect and admiration in our relationship. I’m approving of him and incredibly patient towards him. I feel love for him throughout my mind and body. There’s no reservation in my thought; I can just give him my love freely as he returns even more, and it satisfies me.
Ken Page theorised in his book “Deeper Dating” the two types of attraction: Attraction of deprivation and attraction of inspiration. If you want a healthy, long-lasting relationship, you need the latter. Page said, “An attraction of inspiration is really the path to happiness. That’s someone who, in a basic way, inspires you to be the kind of person they are.” Someone you admire greatly!
I’m truly grateful that my partner and I met each other at the right time in our life, so we could see and appreciate the journeys that got us to where we are. It helped grow our admiration for each other — there, another reason to not date seriously until at least your mid-20s.
Since we admired each other, we didn’t play games. We acted like good friends and got to know each other from a place of love. We showed our interest and intention; we moved respectfully towards each other. There’s no doubt that we love and value each other very much. Every day, I feel filled.
To me, settling is tolerating a relationship without admiration. In the end, the person who loses and hurts the most is you.
A message to you
Go on a date with someone only if there’s something about them that inspires you. Then observe them over time in different situations, let them show you who they are—in fact, let them impress you.
If genuine admiration grows, you know it’s heading into the right direction.