Relationships matter. Who they are with and in what form they manifest is secondary to the quality of the relationship. Is it truthful? Is it life-changing? Are we present? Is the other person “there”? Does it engage us? Does it help us grow? Relationships ultimately teach us love but we need to be available to learn it.

Every intimate relationship with a partner will bring back old, unfinished childhood-parenting issues. They lie in wait, to resurface in a different context – one in which we are an adult and can start to process things that were beyond us as a child to even understand, let alone resolve. The parent who abandoned, for example, is not gone. The whole issue and every emotion attached to it will come stomping back into the arena under the guise of an adult relationship. When we look for a partner, the last thing people generally want is some connection to their own, usually faulty, upbringing. However, the in-built healing push in humans will make the connection inevitable.

The psychology of human relationships is such that we will have a tendency to look to our partner for “parenting” whenever we are receiving love, protection, courage, energy, money, and any symbol of care. We will give that same thing to our partner when the roles are reversed. Here is the gateway for the issues to arise. Our tendency to swing in and out of child-parent roles in our relationship will open the door to all the old unresolved issues, even if we can’t yet see the connection. It is meant to be like this.

We heal our past by living our present love relationship. This makes the love relationship healing in a way that stands on its own. It also makes it susceptible to a level of pain which similarly stands on its own. The issue at the centre of every argument is not just the current perceived issue but, behind that, there is a whole stack of related issues based on the same emotion. Every small rejection from a partner will give rise to the whole extent of past rejections, particularly rejections from childhood, usually long suppressed under the blanket of, “It’s best to forget about that.”

Friendships cannot do this for us. They are just not deep enough. When we share our naked body, our money and our financial future, the range of our good and bad emotions, our dearest dreams and most painful memories, our trembling fears, our fragile hopes, and our sweetest and most touching joys, the relationship cannot be anything other than a uniquely powerful human opportunity. It will unavoidably hold within itself the capacity to hurt and heal in an unparalleled way. It is a unique gift to ourself. And it is a unique gift to another. No; friendships cannot do that.

This article is from Love’s Longing

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