“Are you in a relationship with him?”
This question always baffles me. When I’m asked this, my reply is “Of course I’m in a relationship with him–we are relating to each other.” In my opinion, aren’t we in some type of relationship with everyone in our lives? Aren’t we in a relationship with the people in our family? With our friends? Our co-workers? Our neighbors? With ourselves?
So the question, “Are you in a relationship with him?” isn’t enough for me. There are other more meaningful questions to ask–questions that get to the heart of the things.
The first question is:
- What type of relationship is it?
- Is it casual?
- Is it companionship?
- Is it romantic?
- Is it a life partner?
Each relationship type has its own descriptive adjective. And with each type, there’s a different kind of relating going on. Some relationships are casual and only stay on the surface–a “let’s just talk about the weather” kind of thing. Some dangle on the edge of more, where you may test the waters by asking more personal questions. And some are “all in” romantic endeavors that are deep and rich. All of these can be considered relationships–just very different types with their own set of experiences and expectations. And all are good as long as the type works for both people involved.
The next question is:
2. How is the relationship affecting us?
- Is it positive, negative or neutral?
- Is it lasting?
- Is it meaningful?
- Is it transformative?
Some relationships are positive and last a long time, but create very little change. Others may be negative and leave us thinking, “Not doing that again!” Then there are those life changing relationships that wake us up, touch our soul and leave a lasting impression on us. These can be anything from a short-lived firecracker type experience to a slow simmering flame. Time does not dictate how transformative a relationship will be. What matters is the effect it has on us during its lifespan. As Jeff Brown writes, what matters is resonance:
You don’t measure love in time. You measure love in transformation. Sometimes the longest connections yield very little growth, while the briefest of encounters change everything. The heart doesn’t wear a watch – it’s timeless. It doesn’t care how long you know someone. It doesn’t care if you had a 40 year anniversary if there is no juice in the connection. What the heart cares about is resonance. Resonance that opens it, resonance that enlivens it, resonance that calls it home. And when it finds it, the transformation begins…”
And the final question:
3. What is the quality of the relationship?
- Is it kind?
- Is it loving?
- Is there good communication?
- Is there juice in the connection?
All of us need a few meaningful relationships that resonate with our soul. Without them, life can feel much harder and loneliness can set in. Brene Brown states that loneliness is related to the quality of the connections we have in our lives–which is really about the quality of our relationships. This is especially noticeable in long term, everyday relationships. If the quality of our relationship isn’t good, then we can feel lonely even when we are sitting right next to a friend, a spouse, or a family member. Without juice in the connection, it’s a dry lonely place.
There are many types of relationships. Some we are born into. Some we move into. Some we choose. All have the potential to grow and change us. Those that change us– even if brief– are like a soul to soul connection. They can leave a lasting impact on us long after the relationship is over. And as Nyyirah Waheed writes, whatever the relationship is or however long it lasts, it is best to accept them as they are:
When you meet that person–a person–one of your soulmates–let the connection, the relationship, be what it is. It may be five minutes, five hours, five days, five months, five years, a lifetime, five lifetimes. Let it manifest itself the way it is meant to. It has an organic destiny. This way, if it stays or if it leaves, you will be softer from having been loved this authentically. Souls come into, return, open and sweep through your life for a myriad of reasons. Let them be who and what they are meant to be.”