How Relationships Are Like Muffins, and Why I Enjoy Building With Blocks

Why do we seek out relationships? Well, really that is pretty obvious – for the companionship, for the sexual intimacy, for the support and joy of sharing your life with another. But of course, for many people there are several other fruits to be found from our relationships, not just the ones we enjoy in the traditional sense. Personally, I see our relationships as a continual source for growing and learning.

I want to learn something new from every relationship I’m in. Everyone is unique. Everyone can challenge us, often times without them meaning to, if we have the ears and eyes to listen. There are amazing lessons to be learned tucked away and hidden in every experience, especially the more difficult ones, if we are open to finding them.

Our intimate partners can teach us so much about ourselves, our short-comings, our beauties, things we didn’t even know there were to learn. Our partner is like a mirror, holding up to us a clear view of ourselves, and all the ways we can still improve.

It is a big thing I’m in to apparently. Challenging myself and the other. Learning. Great stuff!

And you know, the best parts come after you’ve known them for awhile. To really be able to challenge your partner, offer something insightful that they hadn’t thought of, and for them to do the same, you’ve really got to get to know the person well. The best lessons come when you sustain that spirit of friendship over a long time, especially even after you’ve decided to just be friends, or change the relationship form in some other way.

I suppose that’s why it’s unfortunate when I meet people who are only interested in the relationship part, and not so much with the growing and learning part. When they want to break up, they’re done. See ya. The only real “learning” to be had is in the context of the honey-moon phase of the relationship. It is like people who only want to eat the soft, top part of the muffin, and once it’s gone, they throw the rest away and move on to the next. Agh! So wasteful!

The best lessons come from long-term relationship. It’s a great feeling to be able to offer someone an insight that they missed because of their own blind-spots, and it’s amazing to have this revelation yourself, when a friend points out something you missed in your own line of thinking.

That’s why it just seems like a terrible waste to cut off a relationship when it “ends.” You lose out on so much, and it takes a lot of time to build back up to that point with someone new.

Until then, you’re back to your old self with all its conclusions and established narratives. It’s pretty easy to pretend to be whoever you want to be when the person doesn’t know you at all yet. You can usually do a pretty good job of only showing people the side you want to show, until your belt loosens and your true self inevitably hangs out. Until then, you could appear to be a totally positive, good-natured person. You could have that idea yourself. There’s no way they could know that you actually have problems communicating your true feelings with people, and that due to your established “reputation” as an always positive, bubbly person, you feel a great pressure to be agreeable and complimentary, and have trouble expressing deeper emotions – of doubt, of needs not being fulfilled, of annoyances. So honesty becomes this difficult thing for this person, but they see themselves as honest. They have other rationalizations for their behavior, and it becomes a blind-spot.

Of course, being able to see this, their past partner could point this out, but this person has already moved on and cut their ex out of their life, and thus, no lessons to be learned. They’ll go on to their next partner, make similar mistakes, not learn from them and move on once more, burning along a long path of desires, not likely to grow up until some truly hard lessons are learned.

Another variation on this is when the person is aware of their own flaws, but rather than try to change themselves, they break up with their current partner in the hopes of finding someone else who will accept their flaw. It may take two years in the relationship for this flaw to even reveal itself. It may be an attitude or behavior that only comes to the surface after they’ve been in the relationship for awhile, but that causes conflict in the relationship great enough to need addressing. Some of the biggest lessons we can learn are the ones that only come to the surface after a couple years with someone, and if we break up then, or do not make an effort to stay friends, then we have squandered the opportunity to learn and improve ourselves in that particular way for another two years, until it inevitably comes up in the next relationship.

Building long-term relationships with people is a lot like stacking wooden blocks on top of each other. New lessons don’t become available until we have stacked up a lot of blocks. And if we abandon those blocks when we start a new relationship, we are starting from scratch, not able to reach the higher lessons for a long time. Unless the relationship turned horribly abusive or unhealthy, in which case cutting the person out of your life would be the healthiest choice, we should never abandon our past blocks. We should continue to build on them – for the growth of ourselves, for the growth of the other, and for a greater mutual happiness for everyone we will come in contact with in our life.

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