The Whole Point of Every Relationship (is probably not what you think it is).

Via Natasha Blank
on Nov 13, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

I’m not an expert on relationships, but I’ve had a bunch and learned from them.

At least enough to gain some intellectual insight that (hopefully) translates over time into a living breathing shift of being.

Turns out, it’s not about making each other happy, or any other kind of imagined perfection. It’s about helping the person in front of you be everything they truly are.

Here are some ways to do that.

1. Hold each other accountable.

Understand the gift she is here to give this world.

2. Call bullshit.

Reflect when she isn’t giving it.

3. Let go.

Trust in his separate journey, even when what he’s doing makes zero sense to you.

4. Remember that your job is not to make your partner happy.

It’s to allow her the space to find her own happiness—when you’re together, and when you’re apart.

5. Be honest. 

One hundred percent. The permission you give yourself to be all of who you are is what creates that space.

6. Fight well.

You’re both on the same team. Your opposition is the misunderstanding—not each other.

7. Embrace attraction to others.

It’s there. Communicate, be clear (with everyone, including yourself), and enjoy your fabulous human existence.

8. Do your work.

It’s usually not about him, or her. Your partner is a flashlight illuminating where you’ve still got work to do. Those feelings of jealousy, resentment and hurt? They’re showing you all the places in you that need your own healing.

9. Remember that you’re a mirror, too.

Reflect back all the beauty that lives in him. Especially when he forgets.

 10. Enjoy the ride, man!

Seriously. You’re never going to figure it all out, so you might as well just love everybody.

This list is totally incomplete. Have some of your own lessons from the road to share? Post in the comments below. We all thank you.

~

Bonus: These two are a perfect example of this kind of relationship:

~

Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

Like elephant love on facebook.

596,077 views

About Natasha Blank

Natasha Blank is a dancer, dj, integrative healer, and the founder of Get Your Dance On. She creates collective experiences that feed our hunger for life through radical self expression, and plays in the spaces where creativity and healing meet. She is also in the midst of dancing every single day for a year, and invites you to join her. You can find out more about her journey at Get Your Dance On

Comments

94 Responses to “The Whole Point of Every Relationship (is probably not what you think it is).”

  1. Owen Marcus says:

    Great guide… we needed it when we started. But on the other hand it's often only through the struggle of learning do we appreciate the beauty of simplicity.

    It was great meeting you at Dan's on that beautiful June night in Brooklyn. Maybe next time in NYC you'll see me at your gig.

  2. Maggie says:

    I strive to do this in all of my relationships, with friends AND lovers. The gift of freedom – given and received – is, to me, the most loving gift of all.

  3. Shelby says:

    All I would add is to forgive quickly and leave the past in the past. When we continually bring up the past, it prevents BOTH from moving forward.

  4. Miri says:

    It would be nice if we could always maintain the openness and insight relationships normally begin with. I'm in a situation now where, after the male has pursued and won my attention, I'm feeling like the efforts that impressed me so have fallen off. We have good communication and I brought this up. He seems to feel that this is to be expected. I guess I agree that this is what one can normally expect, but it's not something that I've ever seen be successful. It makes me think that he made up the interesting/attractive qualities/moments, which I know is not true … but I get all combative with my thoughts when I begin to analyze them. Hahaha. I'm trying to have some grace and not act dumb, because I think I've been a bit unyielding in the past. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm to figure out if I'm falling short out of insecurity or if he's just less intuitive than I initially thought he was. I could go on. Ugh. I always say, in relationships, that there are dealbreakers and there are compromises … but I always seem to resent the compromises later on, so I'm trying not to make them anymore … which means I'm a horrible person … sort of. ARGH.

  5. Nat Rizk says:

    This is amazing. Thank you. #4 is something that especially insightful & strikes a cord with me.

    Love,
    Natalie

  6. dick says:

    So much of this is true. Maybe not all of it, but that's for me to decide after all.
    My big rule is this: Love yourself first, warts and all. Doing that makes your love flow to others.

  7. Jennifer Twardowski says:

    Love this! 🙂 Thank you!

  8. Salamanala says:

    This is amazing, I am going through a tough relationship period right now and just today I decided to do all the points mentioned above. Thanks, this must be the confirmation that my decisions are on the right track.

  9. elizabeth says:

    One word: Children.

    They change much of any relationship… in a practical sense. I read the article and completely agree with the statements made. But, as my partner & I have 4 kids (ages 25-1, no lie) we have little time/energy for anything but a very real and honest relationship with each other (and everyone else in the family!). Just saying… no time to think or worry about things – baby’s up & needs Mama. Good day, all!

  10. ohhhh yes. that's a big one! thanks for adding it to the list, shelby!

  11. Natasha Blank says:

    Hank, I hear what you mean about how (1) and (2) could be seen implying positive and negative things about the genders whose pronouns I used. It certainly isn't intended that way – you could swap one for the other and it would still ring true from my perspective. If I could have used a non-gendered pronoun for all of them, I would have 🙂

    And if you think this list is bullshit? What's yours like? What works for you? What do you do differently? Your constructive input is totally welcome.

  12. Natasha Blank says:

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Letting go is so crucial. I catch myself holding onto the tiniest things, which serves nothing and no one but my ego's desire to be "right." Silly, yet so easy to get hooked.

  13. Natasha Blank says:

    Beautiful. Thank you Carrie!

  14. Natasha Blank says:

    Word. I've been wondering lately about why so many divorces happen shortly after the arrival of kids – and your comment sums it up. Either you've got the tools to work together to serve something much bigger than the both of you, or you're able to step up and cobble them together as you go, or you don't. Good on you & your partner for giving so much over these last 25+ years (and the next 18+!)…. now THAT is love.

  15. Nick Myers says:

    You just reinforced something that i've actively been doing in my relationships for quite some time now. Even working with the most subtlest parts of me that are still habitual trying to say, "mine mine mine."

    Enjoying each relationship I have with each individual has shown me their beautiful self, and it has shown me my beautiful self. Letting go of my ideas about myself and others has helped so much in expansion in my compassion in general. It's so refreshing to so an article like this so nicely articulate. Thank you Natasha

    Blessings,
    Nick

  16. Natasha says:

    Well written- I agree completely and could add a few from my own 'Blessons': http://natashawatkinson.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/ir

  17. Paul says:

    We all need room to just be; Human BEings. Such beautiful and insightful responses on this thread!

  18. Lou says:

    I didn’t agree with everything, but No. 8 really hit me. Hit me hard. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read that.

  19. Jchobbit says:

    I really wanted to like this. The intention seems pure…but the tone is so sexist. Stereotypical & makes me uncomfortable.

  20. Ray says:

    11. Do not give up who you are (or where you are in your journey) to give your partner these things. If they are worthy of your gifts above, they will not expect that from you. in fact, they will reject it from you.

  21. I love that this is just the opposite of what most people try to get FROM relationships. Really, what we need to be focusing on is cultivating more of what we want to GIVE to relationships. Then the giver becomes the receiver.

  22. Tantra Therapist. says:

    sounds like a perfect way to be "in love" with a narcissist.

  23. Diane Austin says:

    I’m finding that my life is about learning to live in a state of simultaneous embrace and surrender of all things percieved and all relationships. Otherwise it’s living in an ego state which depends on separation, judgment, control and fear. All of which block love. I Loved this article! “If you love someone, set them free!” (I finally get that)

  24. kat johnson says:

    #7… How about no.

    By all means, acknowledge and work to understand the attraction others stir in you , but don't embrace it. If you and your partner have agreed to a monogamous relationship, then you both need to be comfortable maintaining that status.

    I am married, and all I can think is that #7 is the kind of talk that makes people think going outside of a committed relationship is not only okay, it should be encouraged because it's all about being present and living life to the fullest.

    You can look, you're human. Talk about it with your partner, reflect on it privately, but keep it within your relationship.

    *unless of course you have another sort of relationship with your partner.

    I suppose my point is that the agreement between partners is sacred. It's a promise you made to one another and should be talked about often. if you want to change that agreement, talk about it.

    Don't "embrace" your attractions when doing so will involve breaking a promise to someone you care about.

    Rule #1 of life: Don't be a dick. (Yrs, women can be ducks too)

  25. Joyce says:

    I agree completely. Well said kat.

  26. Natasha Blank says:

    I should have made the point within the article that my pronoun choices are arbitrary – I picked one to start and then more or less alternated. When I refer to "he" or "she," I'm certainly not just talking about only that gender.

    If any other part of this struck you as sexist, though, I welcome your thoughts and invite you to share any tools you think contribute to healthy relationships.

  27. Natasha Blank says:

    Of course, there's a big difference between being generous, self-aware, and adult – and being co-dependent. But that's a whole other post…

  28. Natasha Blank says:

    amen!

  29. Bill Berndt says:

    Beautiful. Thanks!

    My liberation is her liberation is ours.

  30. Bill says:

    I can see why #7 scares people.

    Let’s make an agreement that encourages dishonesty. Then pretend it is ok.

  31. @gjwriter says:

    Great article. I had a mirror held up to me not long ago and I didn't like what I saw. I thought I was pretty clear about love and relationships. Turns out – I don't have a clue.

  32. @SMNash says:

    Powerful, and to the point. I particularly agree with 8. and 9., which is not unsuprising when you realise what I consider to be the MAIN point of *any* relationship with another: to help you see/feel yourself!

  33. D.K.SCHMIDT says:

    I only have a little problem with
    "6. Fight well.You’re both on the same team. Your opposition is the misunderstanding—not each other."
    Why fight at all. My partner and I live under one premise. If someone is hurt it was not intentional. We trust each other that we would never do anything on purpose to hurt the other. So if we are hurt let it be known and lets talk. We have never had a fight. and by the way we are both over 50 and have been in relationships were arguing and fighting were the norm.

  34. Ali says:

    Agreed!

  35. Beatts says:

    Number 7 isn’t about encouraging the breaking of promises. It’s simply about acknowledging the fact that attraction to other people happens. And ignoring it, or denying yourself that truth isn’t going to do anyone any good. That attraction doesn’t have to be of a sexual nature, and it doesn’t mean in any way that it would be acted upon, even if it was. It can just be that you are attracted to someone for their vibrant spirit., for example. Acknowledge that and alow yourselves to enjoy other human beings. That doesn’t mean cheat on or lie to you partner. It just means that you can appreciate the beauty and wonder of knowing other humans and creating friendships. Relationships have to revolve around trust. And if you don’t trust your partner to know the differences and make good decisions, then maybe there are deeper problems at play.

  36. Amy E says:

    Interesting list. I agree that what is most important is that each partner should focus on what they are bringing to the relationship; not what they hope to receive. Arguing should have rules. I personally object to name calling. Words can be as hurtful as sticks and stones. Realize that relationships are fluid and partners evolve. Hold fast to your loyalty. Be honest.

  37. Manda says:

    wow…I think you just summed up what I have been figuring out lately so eloquently! I have always been so caught up in the intoxication aspect, I have never really respected my previous partners SPACE as you put it. I have been doing that more recently, and it has been improving my connection with others and myself… FIST PUMP! Thanks for sharing on these aspects of Eros and Agape type love, I am going to look into them more for sure!

  38. Disobedient Child says:

    Yes, couldn't agree more. Possibly not in quite the same way as you suggest here, but if anyone is interested, here's another take on setting each other free: http://disobedientchild.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/

  39. A says:

    Number 7… of course everyone is talking about it. It’s whatever you and your partner decide is healthy for you. Embrace it and go for it, if you’re both ok with that. In my marriage, my husband and I aren’t ok with physically embracing attraction to others, but we are not so naive to think that the attraction never happens. Being realistic will save many a broken heart.

  40. Leilla says:

    I don’t claim to know the intention of the author for #7, but it doesn’t seem to mean indulge in an affair. We can embrace our human emotions and urges, celebrate the beauty of an attraction and the aliveness it gives us without acting on it. As an alive and sensual woman in a monogamous relationship with one man for 26 years, I can tell you that to turn off my human nature to experience attraction, would equate to being turned off. There is no reason to fear or hide from or lie to yourself about being attracted to other people. There is a beauty in having those attractions and choosing your spouse again and again. I’m not with my husband by default because I’m incapable of feeling for others. I can feel for others and still choose him everytime… ❤️

  41. Cheri says:

    I don’t feel that #7 is encouraging relations outside of a committed relationship by any means. She seems to simply be suggesting to let go of personal insecurity about your partner finding others attractive. Opening ourselves up to the reality that we all find others attractive is extremely liberating to a relationship- we stop trying to control the other person’s thoughts and perceptions for fear of hurting our egos. When we truly love ourselves and realize everything we have to offer to our partner, the simple fact of your partner finding someone else attractive becomes a silly thing about being human. A truly secure relationship, rich in selfless love, will not fret over the frivolousness of other sexy humans.

  42. mary says:

    #4 in a committed relationship it is your job to make each other happy! When you do that it brings happiness to both and shows that your not a selfish person.

    #7 accepting not embracing it but don’t flaunt it.

    34yrs married and proud to say these two comments work!