Lasting Relationships – Part One: The Willingness to Grow

by Gregory Toole

Lasting relationships, particularly those of the romantic type, seem quite elusive for many. Even short-term relationships may be elusive for many. Relationships, if they are to be truly meaningful, require a degree of vulnerability, risk, and growth.

Being hurt in a former relationship can greatly diminish our possibilities for future relationships, depending on what we internalize from the previous experience. For example, in my early thirties I began to wonder why it had been about ten years since I had been in a meaningful relationship. As I peeled back the proverbial layers of the onion, looking deeply into what was the underlying cause, I remembered an experience I had ten years before, while I was in college. I had fallen in love and found myself heartbroken when the relationship ended. The pain seemed too great to bear at the time, and I vowed never to be hurt like that again. What I really had set in motion, unbeknownst to me, was to never get into a meaningful relationship again.

Once I saw this clearly in my early thirties, I realized I was stronger than I had been in my twenties, and the decision I made in my twenties to protect myself no longer served me. As I began to allow myself to be open and vulnerable again, willing to fall in love, accepting there was a risk I could get hurt emotionally, I opened the possibility for meaningful relationship, which occurred for me.

Then I learned there is something more than just being vulnerable and willing to take a risk. Once the fear of being hurt was gone, there was awareness that in order to move forward, to have the relationship last, one must be willing to grow. While one could probably maintain a fairly shallow relationship without being required to grow very much, anything meaningful would require growth every step of the way.

The requirement of growth comes from the very nature of relationship. Relationship shines the light on all the dark places of fear, insecurity, unworthiness, and those places we’d just rather not go at all. The latter are those places within us that we’ve built a wall around, or more like a fortress, for the very purpose of making sure no one or nothing would take us there. Then, relationship, by its very nature takes us right to the doorstep of that place and says, “This is the doorway to that meaningful relationship you want.” At this moment we might be tempted to begin bargaining, saying, “No, I’m willing to go anywhere but there. I’ll do anything else, but not that.”

All of this bargaining is to no avail because love is designed to transform us; to bring those dark places into the light and free us from the fortress we have built that ultimately has limited us. Love is here to tell us we are bigger than our fears, insecurities, and beliefs of unworthiness. Love is here to invite us into that greater experience of life that is beyond even our own imagination.

If we are willing to breathe into our deepest shadows, face them with the love of a partner, and bravely walk through them, we invite the deep healing and freedom that love offers us. Then, not only does our relationship last, it also frees us to experience the fullest possibility for our lives.

See next week’s blog for Part Two:

            Lasting Relationships – Part Two: Is It Over or Time to Grow?

Namasté,
Gregory

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: