Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Do You Want to Be in a Relationship?



You know, I think most everyone has stock answers to the question I have titled this post with. Things like:

I want to have a family.

I want to be loved and cared for.

I want someone to travel with, share experiences with, etc.

And of course, all of those are fine. But perhaps beneath those also lurk these:

I am afraid of being alone.

It's more financially secure with two people sharing the bills.

I'm not sure I'm loveable if someone isn't in my life.

I'm supposed to get marriage and have children, isn't that what everyone does?

Life isn't meaningful without a partner.

If I look back at my own life, I'd say I have had, at some time or another, most of these "negative" narratives driving my desire to be in a relationship. And because of that, I sometimes made choices both within relationships and between relationships out of fear, and not from an authentic sense of who I am and what I really want out of my life.

In addition, if you look at those first three - the "positive" narratives - they aren't all that specific, nor are they terribly deep-level either. Let's take each of them and ask a few probing questions.

1. I want to have a family. Why? What is it about being in a partnership and having children that you find compelling? What beneficial qualities would you bring such a partnership? What beneficial qualities would be helpful for a partner to have in such a relationship with you? Could you have a great life without children, or do you feel called to be a parent in this lifetime?

2. I want to be loved and cared for. How? In what ways could a partner do this for you? Do you love and care for yourself already? (If not, you might find yourself in a world of disappointment when your partner proves to be human.) How might you love and care for your partner in a relationship?

3. I want someone to travel with, share experiences with, etc. Have you traveled alone before? How are your friendships or relationships with family members? Are you merely hoping to find someone to fill the vacuum of a social life you currently have? What kinds of experiences do you wish to share with an intimate partner and why?

This kind of questioning may irritate some of you. However, I'm kind of convinced that the way towards a healthy, conscious relationship is through such questioning and self-examination. And once you are with someone, through "together examination." The thing is, though, that this is not about finding a new set of pat answers to a list of questions. It's more about allowing yourself - or yourselves - to experiment. To live with questions for awhile. To offer answers that feel the most true, while knowing that they are provisional - i.e. true within a given context, which might change in the future. Some partners have a deep passion for travel together for years, and then, as other things shift in their lives, one or both find that yesterday's travel is today's business project developed together.

So, why do you want to be in a relationship?

5 comments:

  1. Good post. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, so much, in fact, that I have yet to put together coherant post on my blog about it. The thing is, I'm not sure I want a relationship, for the first time in my life. And, it's weird.

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  2. Well, it could be an opportunity to reflect and rearrange priorities around relationships. I can imagine it's strange not to have a list or plan though.

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  3. I have been trying to pin this down for me, and it feels like the English language isn't quite structured right for me to do so.

    I definitely have a very strong leaning towards "relationship" over "single", and the standard phrase is along the lines of, "I want someone to complete me", but that doesn't make sense because I already feel complete in myself - it's just that somehow a complementary essence would feel really good.

    I'm also social but introvert, so I think having a particular special someone (or, conceivably two or three special someones, I'm not totally averse to the idea of poly relationships - though I think the difficulty increases exponentially with group size, see "introvert") would kind of balance and satisfy those two traits at once.

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  4. Well, it's good that you feel "complete."

    I understand the sentiment behind those kinds of statements, but they're such trouble. If someone wants another to make them "feel whole," whatever relationship that occurs tends to be problematic or unsustainable.

    I also agree that language sometimes fails to express it.

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  5. :) I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm a college student who's been thinking a lot about dating/love and relationships lately, and I have interest in Zen and Yoga too. This is a great place to discuss modern relationships, thank you!

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