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What Purpose Do Relationships Serve
Most of us yearn for the ‘perfect’ relationship. It is generally seen as a way of being ‘completed’ by another person. Are we all incomplete without a partner? What purpose do relationships serve? Why are the majority of people in a relationship not happy?
Research has shown that there are more single people than those in relationships at the moment. I wonder if that is by choice, or if we have developed coping strategies to stop our self being ‘hurt’ by another and thereby stay single. When we are not in a relationship we fantasies about the perfect partner, and all the activities we can do together. When we are in a relationship we seem to be too busy complaining about our partner and forget that we could be enjoying ourselves.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 - 1980) saw relationships as being needy and possessive, and their purpose was to own another’s consciousness through any means possible. He also believed that relationships were a way for us to experience parts of our self through another that we would otherwise be unable to see.
He believed that we are all projections of each other, and that we see different aspects our selves through everyone we meet. So all the aspects we like in another are parts of our self projected outside of our self to be experienced. Same with the aspects we do not particularly like, they are also parts of our self that we have dis-identified from and projected on to another.
Most of us seek to be in a relationship for acceptance, love and to prevent loneliness, however, these experiences may be compounded and we can feel even lonelier when in a relationship if our partner does not understand us. It is possible to feel less accepted and unlovable within relationships than when single.
Romantic love can be experienced as possessive and needy, with each person having their own agenda. At first everything seems fantastic, both parties are experiencing the best aspects of their partner and feel a sense of purpose. Later it may become a battle of wills as each one tries to assert their wants and needs onto the other.
It is common for one or both to try and change the others behaviours, and to become controlling and insecure. Historically in relationships there is usually a hierarchy with one being more submissive and the other more dominating. What happened to the initial ‘love’ that they felt for each other? Why has it become dysfunctional when there was so much potential?
If Sartre is to be believed I can imagine that constantly being with the same aspect of yourself it won't take long to tire of seeing the familiar patterns being played out. Which begs the question; Is it healthy to be isolated within a relationship? A lot of couples will start spending less time with friends and unconsciously isolate themselves within a ‘loving relationship’; which could be the start of the dis-harmony.
All relationships have their high’s and low’s, which is not surprising since we are all dealing with aspects of our self that we may not want to face, so rather than accept them, we resist them, and cause our selves more problems.
I see relationships as a great way to understand more about our selves, and to find compassion for another. The ‘other’ according to some teachings and philosophies is only a reflection of our self, and if all that exists is the same thing manifest as everything, we can only ever be in relationship with our self.
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