What is a Relationship?
By Frank Kermit
Over the years, I have been asked a number of times "What is a Relationship?"
This is a harder question to answer than most people think.
In my experience, everyone has a different idea and definition of what a relationship is, because we all have different expectations of what it means to be in, and have, the relationship we have always wanted. Part of my job as a coach is not to tell a person what a relationship is, but to help that person figure out their own definition of what a relationship is for themselves by having them identify and come to terms with their expectations (realistic and non-realistic), boundaries and the kind of lifestyle that they can handle.
So, defining what a relationship is, is not easy.
What is doable is defining what a relationship is not. In eliminating what a relationship is not, it helps people figure out what a relationship actually is or more specifically, what a relationship is in their informed opinion.
An additional step in understanding what a relationship is, is coming to terms with the idea that just having a relationship is not enough. It must be a relationship that is on some level emotionally healthy, which addresses your particular healthy emotional needs. A dysfunctional relationship is still a relationship, but that alone does not make it something to seek out and stay in -just because- it is a relationship.
A relationship is not an unconditional love where everything is forgiven and tolerated even if it crosses your personal boundaries and violates your emotional needs. A relationship with someone who treats you in a manner that hurts you (physically, mentally or emotionally) that is not a healthy relationship. Just because you love someone, does not mean you accept behavior that hurts you.
That kind of unconditional love is not for your relationship partner. Reserve that kind of love for your children. Even then, unconditional love does not supersede the need for tough love that all children require to become contributing members to society.
Healthy unconditional love means that although you will still love someone regardless of what they do, you MUST continue to communicate clearly what you will and will not accept in terms of how you are to be treated and enforce your personal boundaries.
You can still love someone unconditionally even when you break up. It is not about how you feel...that is just one aspect of the whole picture of a relationship.
The beautiful part is that you always have the power to design whatever scene on the canvas of your life for your relationships to reflect.
A relationship is not unconditional-and-all-accepting-love, because when unconditional love is taken to an extreme it defies (not defines) what an emotionally healthy relationship can be for a person. It is just like forgiveness does not mean you give someone a chance to enter into a repeating behavior pattern to hurt you again and again; you forgive someone as a means for YOU to find closure, and not solely to heal the other person.
If you are struggling to decide what a relationship is, that is OK. You are just like the rest of us. That answer will come in the time it takes for you to know yourself and accept your self-actualization. In the meantime, start by identifying your personal parameters about what a relationship is not to begin your journey on the road to relationship recovery.
Learn more about self awareness and self actualization by checking out the coaching workbooks
For Men: I'M A MAN THAT'S MY JOB WORKBOOK EBOOK
I'M A WOMAN, IT'S MY TIME EBOOK
Learn the Complete The Emotional Needs Mastery System
Check out the Benefits of COACHING Video