If you want to be in a relationship, why do you want it? There are a number of unhealthy reasons for wanting a relationship, and these reasons often lead to relationship problems or divorce. The most common UNHEALTHY reason looks something like this:
"I want someone to love me. I didn't get enough love as I was growing up and I want someone to give me what I didn't get. I believe that this is what I need to be happy and to feel worthy and complete."
People who want a relationship for this reason are generally very disappointed, because if they are not loving themselves, their partner's love cannot fill the empty place within that comes from self-abandonment.
What are the HEALTHY reasons for wanting to be in a relationship?
1. To Share Love and Caring
There is a huge difference between wanting to get love and desiring to share love. The unhealthy reason above indicates that the person is abandoning themselves -- that they have not yet learned to love and value themselves.
When you take responsibility for doing the inner work to learn to love and value yourself, you become filled up with love to share, and it is fulfilling to share your love with a partner. Caring about another person feels very rewarding when you are also caring about yourself. One of the greatest joys in life is the sharing of love, and two people who love and value themselves and share their love and caring with each other are able to experience this deep joy and intimacy.
2. To Learn and Grow
Relationships offer a wonderful arena to heal old fears and insecurities that we acquired in childhood. When two people enter a relationship with the desire to learn and grow with each other, they can help each other to heal the rejection, abandonment and engulfment issues that each may have.
Our partner can do this with us, but not for us. Both people in the relationship need to be open to taking responsibility for their own feelings and healing, and then they can help and support each other in their learning and healing process.
3. To Be There to Support Each Other
Most of us need a reliable person -- someone to fall back on -- when we are having a hard time. We also need a cheerleader -- someone who supports us in being all we can be. Loving partners can learn to provide this for each other. While it is important to learn to take loving responsibility for our own feelings, we don't need to do this alone. In fact, it is not desirable to do it alone. Being social beings, we need others who love and care about us to be there for us and to help us see what is true for us and what is best for us.
Not only can a relationship provide emotional support, it can also help to provide financial support. Many of us feel safer when we don't have to provide everything ourselves -- when we have each other to rely on, both emotionally and financially.
4. To Share Companionship and Fun
Loneliness is a very hard feeling. We are not meant to live alone. In times past, people lived in family systems in supportive and caring communities. While now we often do not live near family or in caring communities, we can create this companionship and fun with a partner. It is generally much more fun to do things with a partner than to be always doing them alone.
5. To Have Children and Create a Loving Family
For those people who want children, it is generally better for the children, and more fulfilling, to raise children in partnership. While parenting can be deeply satisfying, it's also often challenging, and being able to share the challenges as well as the joys with a partner is a wonderful thing to do.
6. To Create a Safe and Loving Sexual Relationship
Casual sex can become tedious, as well as challenging regarding STDs. People who love each other and are in a committed relationship have the opportunity to be creative and sexually free with a loving partner. Sex in a loving and committed relationship can provide many things -- intimacy, passion, fun, safety and comfort, to name a few.
Are there other healthy reasons you can think of? I'd love to hear them.
For more from Margaret Paul, Ph.D., click here.
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