Monday, December 3, 2007

Why get into a relationship?

A friend and I were discussing relationships. He has never been in a long-term relationship nor does he have a context for wanting one. In his words, “I’ve never seen one that works”. So, his question to me was “Why be in a relationship? What’s the point?”

Now, I thought it was an easy question to answer, but it really isn’t. I listed all the obvious reasons: companionship, someone to witness your life, someone to share the journey with. He remarked that you can get all those things from a close friendship. True, you can.

Then there are the very basic considerations of having a family or sharing financial obligations; a relationship can help lighten the load of one person in life who wants to achieve certain goals. If you’re headed in the same direction, it can be fun to have someone to share the journey along the way.

And then there’s the explanation I inevitably shared. It’s my idealistic view of what a relationship is all about. It’s from Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations With God Book 1. I’ve blogged about it more here. But in a nutshell, these are his comments, or rather god’s comments, on what a relationship is all about:

"...the purpose of your relationship is to create an opportunity, not an obligation---an opportunity for growth, for full Self expression, for lifting your lives to their highest potential, for healing every false thought or small idea you ever had about you, and for ultimate reunion with God through the communion of your two souls..."

So, I'm opening this up for discussion. Why get into a relationship? What's the point?

tall penguin


John Conley said...

For me, being in a relationship is about familiarity and closeness. Conversations with strangers and friends tend to require a higher purpose. "Why do you think Joe does that?" "Did you hear about what happened with so and so?"

Relationship conversation is much different. There becomes no need to encumber your words with meaning. There's no need to entertain or impress.

"We're out of milk."
"Ok, are we out of anything else?"
"Yes, we need to go to the store."
"Do you want to go now?"
"No, let's watch this show first."

That level of closeness is beautiful to me now. A few years ago, I would look at it as boredom. Of course you need to communicate your thoughts and feelings too, but the basic communication is where a lot of life happens.

Maybe that's what we look for in relationships? Why do we get scared of that?

John Conley

tall penguin said...

Interesting comments John. Your little conversation shows what some people in relationship consider the mundane parts, but for you they are beautiful. It really does seem to be about perception.

I wonder if, in the end, a relationship comes down to whatever the people involved decide it to be. And this may change over time. Perhaps it starts out as someone to go out and do things with. Later it may become someone to share financial obligations with and have a family. And towards life's end, perhaps the relationship is pure companionship, someone to smile at as the day draws to a close.

Is it possible that we put so much pressure on relationships because we expect them to stay the same the whole way through? Is that why it scares us so? Is it the inevitable change along the way?

tall penguin

Zoya said...

This question is of a similar kind that a question "Why have children?" Somebody asked me that several months ago. I struggled to find a convincing answer because in my mind it was never a question. My husband had a perfect answer: "A reason to have children for me is that I like being around kids". I think the answer to the question about relationships is: Because one likes to be in a relationship.

tall penguin said...

Perhaps for some it really is that simple Zoya. I doubt it but I'm willing to entertain the possibility. :)

kwintestal said...

Good point. I think I'm rethinking the whole relationship thing now.

Gayle said...

As I type very quietly in the wee hours of the morning, I think about my husband lying in bed a few feet away. Why am I in a relationship with him? And why is it different from a friend? For me, it boils down to love. (may the gods of cheesiness strike me down now!)

We're far from perfect, but we love each other. I find it's similar to good friends -- you know, those ones you can call after months-long absences and pick up right where you left off. Those ones that you might seem so different from, but that you just have something inside you that clicks. Like that, but more. That's why I'm in this relationship. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me, despite ups and downs, despite moments of button-pushing. It's warm and fuzzy, and as much as part of me hates to admit it, I like it.

orenji said...

Personally, I think we're usually attracted to people who have similar likes/dislikes... but the personalities are usually opposite from us and provide us with fresh perspective on various situations/topics. If you can have a wonderful debate with someone on your different views, that provides you with new insight. I think that is what initially pulls us to someone. New perspective on things you've been taught since you were small. In the long run, I think relationships serve as assured company, also. A constant. Someone who you know will be there when you get home and give you a different look at different situations. It's also someone you can experience new things with. You can provide safety for each other in every sense of the word.