Being In Relationship

I was talking to a dear friend of mine tonight who was recounting the loss of a potential love affair. She had met him on a dating site and for months he had regaled her with praise of her attributes and general attractiveness. He invited her to fly away with him to exotic places that he tended to frequent. She’d never met him in person but she was enamored with his affections and the promise of a lifestyle being with him that she’d lost from a previous marriage that had ended badly. She was crying over the fact that he’d suddenly written to say he’d met someone else and was therefore cutting off all communication with her to pursue this other “love.” She was devastated. She took this news as a complete rejection of her person—she felt unlovable, unattractive, a loser.

Looking at this situation at a distance, it was easy for me to wax eloquent about the fallacies of computer “dating,” that, having never been in each other’s presence it was nothing more than a virtual flirtation. But, as I get more distance on the conversation I realize she was in relationship with him over those months and was therefore deserving of the hurt she felt. I was not quite sympathetic enough and I owe her an apology. Here’s why: this interlude was enough for her to sufficiently challenge her being. She was in it enough to lay herself vulnerable to this man’s comments and as such, lay bare her soul. It doesn’t matter how much. He certainly didn’t learn everything about her, her habits, her proclivities or the smell of her breath in the morning, but he learned enough through virtual flirtation to hurt her.

I told her we are in relationship with people to learn something at the soul level. She just cried. I told her obviously this was a lesson in discernment—was this man really truthful with her? Would he have honored what she liked and loved? Would he have overlooked her constant self-deprecation and loved her anyway? What did the pictures of his life say about him as a person? Where he went, how he chose to spend his days. He kept wanting her to join him—in his far-away home, in exotic places he was used to. She never did, she said, because she didn’t feel good enough about her weight. Maybe, but I think her instincts deep down were right—what about me and my life? Why don’t you offer to come to me? I think her instincts were right on. To go somewhere on loose ground with a man you’ve never met? No way!

So he gave up trying to entice her to join his life. He found someone else who was willing. I say, Spirit was protecting her from a life that would never be hers—it would always be his—just as it was with her former husband—following him, his life, or get lost. It is not a coincidence that this most recent “dating” experience was like her last marriage. Both were intended to teach her to be more discerning and value herself more greatly in the equation.

We encounter people in our lives in order to be “in relationship” with them, however long, to have the opportunity to practice our soul skills and learn something. Though my friend may not see what happened this way, it clearly functioned as a challenge to her sense of self and her personal value. That’s what relationships do—challenge us—because we have learning to do and interacting is how we generate emotion and emotion is the medium of learning. We are supposed to experience a great breadth of emotion as we age as souls, and fully learn the differences and consequences of emotions. If we lived alone and never interacted with anyone or any thing, we would hardly generate emotion that is both challenging and sustaining. Perhaps the most important lesson is navigating our emotions within the life of a relationship. Yes, they have a life too; a beginning, middle and an end. In the case of my friend, it had progressed to the end. The energy was depleted from it, a new relationship with another woman begun. For her, it was not yet over, but she, too, had begun a flirtation with another man, one who didn’t demand she get on a plane and fly to where he was. The relationship, in actuality, was coming to an end, in complete indifference to either of their efforts.

So being “in relationship” no matter how unsatisfying is a testament of our courage to live here in this domain we call earth because it is all about relationships, all about interaction, all about emotion. Through emotion we experience deeply our existence. Through emotion we feel the connectedness of our being with others, known and not yet known. Through emotion we stretch our soul muscles, to earn again and again our biggest insights: Who am I? What do I care about? What am I willing/not willing to do? What does this person mean to me? In answering these questions we understand the makeup of our being.

So I say bravo! to my friend who puts herself out time and time again, in seeking a lasting relationship with a man who will cherish her. I need only remind her that in her pocket she has the greatest love of all—that of Spirit (or the universe or the intelligent energy field, God). Contrary to what she thinks, she is never alone.

Leave a Comment