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    (written a while ago)

    The purpose of relationships

    This question was asked at another site:
    How about relationships. Dating, marriage, etc. What do you think about people in relationships/relationships in general. Do you think people should waste their time with relationships, when 99% of them will not work out anyway?

    I’d like to address this question because I feel many contributions go unnoticed by many people. For instance, what is the purpose of a relationship, any relationship? It is co-creation, or co-experience. There are only so many things we can learn in life if we go through it alone. Humans are social creatures, who require interactions with others in order to grow into a more full being. Not all of these interactions will be pleasant, obviously, because that also would not allow us to grow as much as having a mix of experiences. Yet all experiences are important, and teach us lessons we could not have learned otherwise. 

    Let’s apply this purpose to specific instances. When most people hear the word relationship, they think of a romantic situation that hopefully leads to marriage. I’m going to refer to these relationships at dating. What is the purpose of dating? In most cultures, one purpose is to help us find lifelong partners. And that’s certainly valid, but it’s only part of the picture. We must also remember co-creation and co-experience. Every relationship teaches us something about our self, and when seen in that context dating isn’t as frivolous as a marriage interview process. Every experience should be honored as a life lesson brought into our experience by our self at some level. 

    The thing about experiences is that they only last so long. Once you have learned a lesson, if there aren’t more that you need to learn from that individual you will find your interest in them waning. This doesn’t mean you have failed, but the relationship has served its purpose and is not longer useful to you. Be thankful for the experience and move on in a healthy and joyful manner, for this relationship was never meant to last a lifetime. If all were meant to last that long, our lives would be so full we wouldn’t have time for anyone!

    Sometimes we find it isn’t so easy to move on from a relationship. I’ve found that it helps to take the time to attempt to identify what purpose that relationship served in your life. Perhaps, though the purpose of the relationship was fulfilled, you need to learn that lesson more deeply. Thus you hang onto something that worked partially, rather than moving onto a new relationship that will help you learn more of that lesson. Or perhaps you regret they way you handled the relationship. That is also another opportunity for growth by accepting your past behavior and moving on, attempting to live in a way that you do not regret. No matter what, if you take an honest look at a situation, you will be able to find a lesson which helps you move on.

    But what about friendships, how are they different from dating relationships? Well, for one they don’t have the pressure of leading to a more permanent title of marriage partner. But beyond that, they are no different. All friendships teach us about ourselves and give us opportunities for co-creation. In my opinion, the only difference that should exist between our friendships and our life partner is in who we’re having sex with. 

    How many relationships, friendships or marriages, can you think of, that lasted for a lifetime? Not very many, if you can think of one at all I would bet. Most people are disheartened by this, but I am not. If we are to look at every relationship, without looking at marriage, we can see that they all last as long as they suit a purpose, and then they end. It’s the normal life cycle of a relationship. Yet when it comes to marriage, we expect it to last forever. While I agree there are benefits to this requirement, it is not natural. That doesn’t mean I agree with the large number of divorces and separations that occur in society, because I don’t. I believe that in many of those situations people are not sticking around to learn the lesson before them. They are instead bailing out on a situation that is either fixable, or at least able to improve upon. In the end they may still end the relationship but on much better terms.

    I don’t believe in staying together just for children. If you are not happy, what does that teach your children? It certainly doesn’t teach them to seek happiness for themselves, and it doesn’t teach them that a marriage can be happy and healthy. I believe this is one source of the marriage problems that exist today. People don’t have many good examples for maintaining a good relationship, and thus falter like their parents before them. We then have questions like the one I am attempting to answer, because people are jaded towards this type of relationship. This is why I do my best to live as a good example to others; showing them how relationships can be healthy and balanced. 

    Rather than all this theoretical stuff, I’d like to share my experiences with dating and marriage. As a teenager, which is when most people begin dating, I didn’t date very often. While the boys I dated were friends or other people I liked, dating just didn’t feel right. It became obvious why that was when I realized I was gay at the end of high school. Those previous relationships with boys taught me that I wasn’t really into dating them, which is an important thing to learn about the self! In college I slowly started to date girls. The very first person I met was very important to me. We clicked, but for some reason things weren’t quite right. I learned some things about myself, which aren’t important to share here, and moved on. In the relationships that followed I continued to learn many different things about myself, all of which I couldn’t learn on my own. Most of these relationships lasted a few months at best, but that was ok. A year and a half following my first relationship with a girl, we reunited. It’s been over six and a half years since that reunion, and we were married in Canada in 2004. 

    You see, even though our relationship failed the first time, it wasn’t a bad thing. Lessons needed to be learned in other situations. When we found each other again, the timing was better, though there were still many lessons to learn. Some of these lessons would end other relationships, but we worked through them. We now have a very strong relationship that gives both of us plenty of room to grow. We’ve also built a flexible relationship that can bend and absorb any problems that come up along the way. For instance, we both understand that if one of us were to have a moment of indiscretion and cheat that it’s something we can work through. This is because we know each other, and we know why we would cheat. But, we also don’t put ourselves in situations where cheating could occur. That’s the personal responsibility aspect of our relationship. 

    In the past nine years that we’ve known each other, we’ve both grown so much it’s almost scary. But we have allowed each other to grow and still be who they are within the relationship. A marriage should not be stifling! This is another reason why so many fail. Humans need freedom, and when they don’t have that freedom they either fight for it or curl up into a ball and let it destroy them. 

    And finally, above all, we have a great love for each other that runs very deep. It feels like she has always been and will always be in my life. In many ways we are codependent, because we are at our best when we’re with each other. However, this isn’t automatically a weakness. We are both strong individuals who know how to take care of ourselves, and do so whenever it is necessary. But together we are even stronger. We can cover each other’s weakness and reinforce their strengths. I believe this balances out the weakness that can come from codependence. I also feel that if for some reason our relationship no longer served a purpose, we could both walk away as friends. Yes, it would hurt, but because of our belief systems we could do it. However, I don’t see this happening at any foreseeable point in the future. 

    I know this was a long response, but since you made it this far I hope you were able to take something of value from it. This isn’t a complete answer, but I’m always open to questions and will do my best to answer them. I wish everyone the best in their life and relationships.

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