When is a relationship over? This question often looms on our minds during times of relationship crisis. Sometimes we work through the crisis with our partner and are better off because of it, other times the crises never really ends and we continue agonizing over the question long after the natural end of the relationship. So what is the difference between relationship crisis as growth opportunity and relationship crisis as the beginning of the end?
Ultimately it comes down to how committed each person in the partnership is to healing, evolution, and growth. As we’ve often discussed we are living in times of accelerating transformation and growth. More than ever before many of us are growing and evolving at an accelerated rate and becoming strangers to the old version of ourselves.
Many times we look back to who we were a month or year ago and we don’t recognize ourselves. That sort of dramatic change often strains our friendships and romantic relationships. Because for those standing still or growing at a slower pace our accelerated growth can make them feel like we are running away from them. They feel abandoned and resent each new development in our evolutionary process, because each change takes us further away from being the person they knew and loved.
The most important thing to remember is to have compassion for our friends, family, and loved ones who do not understand or appreciate our accelerated growth. Your change represents a sort of death for them. So be kind as try to give them time to get to know the new version of you.
That being said, while we should strive to love without limit or condition, we need strong boundaries around our time, energy, and attention to protect and foster our growth. Love is an unlimited supply, but our time, energy, and attention are finite. Love generously, but do not waste the latter by trying to be an outdated version of yourself for others. It is outside of integrity and not doing anyone any favors.
Romantic relationships are unique in that we are committing to grow together with another being. If done consciously the romantic relationship is the most profound vehicle there is for growth and evolution. If done unconsciously, however, it can keep you tied to the wheel of karma repeating the same old patterns.
The biggest relationship killer for people on the spiritual path is disparate appetites for growth. When one person is highly motivated to evolve and grow and the other is not, you quickly grow apart. Many people are faced at some point with the realization that they can either continue their path of growth and evolution or try to stand still to stay in resonance with their partner.
This is a decision everyone has to make on their own. Sometimes we may need to slow down a little to help our partner catch up and understand. Other times we have to realize our partner simply isn’t interested in growing with us and we can no longer stand still.
The most important thing I ever did was clarify what partnership meant to me. For me partnership means shared mission, values, worldview, and appetite for growth. As far as I’m concerned compatibility in these four domains is essential to any partnership. If one or more of these domains is missing or out of balance the partnership simply doesn’t exist or is out of balance.
You may have your own definition of partnership. Maybe you have more or fewer non- negotiables. If you are in a relationship that is unhappy start by defining what partnership means to you. What are the domains that are essential for you to grow together?
Once you’ve defined what partnership means to you evaluate your partnership. Are you actually in a partnership? Or are you trying to grow together with someone who is incompatible with who you have become? Are the two of you actually trying to grow together? Do the two of you even want to grow together, or did you give up on that long ago? Are you in a partnership or are you just tolerating one another?
From my perspective relationships don’t end they just evolve. At the soul level you will see one another again and your connection will endure. But in the present moment be honest about what is real and true. Most suffering arises when we try to make a relationship something it is not.