Dynamics of Relationship from a Spiritual Perspective

Healing and Purpose-Specific Relationships

“Through Love, thorns become roses,

Vinegar becomes sweet wine,

The stake becomes a thorn,

The reverse of fortune seems good fortune,

A prison becomes a rose bower,”…

-Rumi

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.”

-Hubert H. Humphrey

“Until the Real Thing Comes Along”

-Sammy Cahn

Even though I’ve focused thus far on learning relationships in which the dysfunction or problematic resonates, I’d like to add that certainly not all relationships are learning relationships and, additionally, that not all learning relationships are difficult or unpleasant. Aside from true soul mate relationships that most of us aspire to find and be involved in, there are other types of romantic relationships as well. Some of these other non-soul mate relationships may be pleasant, but don’t have a real “charge” to them, so that the people in them feel comfortable, but don’t feel inspired or really in love. The relationship may be pleasant or comfortable and non-challenging, but may also feel bland. I have seen several clients in relationships like this and have found that there is usually a purpose that this type of relationship serves.

One of the purposes for relationships such as this is to provide a healing aspect or soothing or comforting experience for those involved in the relationship. In other words, one or both of the people involved may have been through a particularly difficult or draining relationship or experience, or even a series of such relationships, and the pleasant but bland relationship affords him/her the opportunity to heal from the other relationship(s). This type of relationship, the healing relationship, thus represents a relationship that affords R and R (rest and relaxation). This gives those involved the opportunity to be in a romantic relationship at the same time that they are healing from the draining relationship or experience, rather than attempting to recoup while alone.

I have further seen other positive relationships, which, even though they are still not the true, partner relationship, serve the purpose of “introducing” a person to the qualities and dynamics of a good relationship, while also allowing him/her to re-pattern his/her normal mode of relating. This may be the first positive relationship a person has ever been in, and the situation allows the person to experience the dynamics of a healthy relationship for the first time, while also sometimes gaining practice being in a good and non-dysfunctional intimate relating situation. Thus, re-patterning relationships such as this, even though they’re not with the true soul mate, serve as a mechanism by which one can re-pattern his/her traditional (and often unhealthy) role in a relationship and can learn instead to play a healthier role and experience more positive dynamics.

Another type of positive, but non-soul mate, relationship occurs when two people are going through similar things or are working (either growth-wise or career-wise) on similar issues. In other words, they are paralleling each other in some way with regard to growth or experience. This type of relationship, the paralleling relationship, affords them support, whether explicit, through mutual discussion of what they’re each going through, or implicit, through an unconscious awareness of their shared experiences, as well as insight on the shared issue(s) they’re going through, as they share experiences with each other. Paralleling relationships can subtly give those in them energy, instead of their being in a difficult learning relationship that could drain their energy.

Some relationships may represent a combination of some of these types of relationships. As you can see from these pleasant, but non-soul mate types of situations, relationships will generally come into existence for a reason, whether we’re aware at the time of what that reason may be or not.

In addition, I have also seen people in non-soul mate or -partner relationships for more mundane reasons. They may have a rational, rather than emotional, reason for being in a certain relationship and may decide to be in the relationship out of a rational motivation. In other words, the mind may be engaged in the relationship, but not the heart. This could be, for example, because the person feels that he or she is ready to get married and/or wants children and just looks for someone to marry. I’ve seen some clients come up with a laundry list of what they want in a marriage partner, based upon external or superficial considerations (e.g., makes a certain income, is a certain height, drives a certain car, lives in a certain type of house, even how they look as a couple to others), rather than what the person is really like either on the inside or in habits or personality traits – or even how they feel about them. I have even seen some clients make a decision to marry someone because that person had one attribute that they wanted in a mate (for instance, a calm and steady temperament), irrespective of the fact that they really felt no emotional connection to or love for their future partner. This type of consideration is often a recipe for a future failed relationship, especially when the emotional component is lacking and there is, in its place, a preference for the rational and feeling-less element in the decision-making process.

I have also seen some clients decide to enter into – and doggedly stay in – relationships for financial security, although this motivation may be understandable for women in a society that has traditionally undervalued women economically. Whether one can stay permanently in such relationships depends upon the person and his/her priorities. However, I have often seen clients in relationships such as this who were miserable and whose hearts were crying out for true resonance and connection. The lessons in these relationships may have to do with independence, going to a deeper level, being true to oneself, or any number of other realizations.