As a psychologist and counselor for more than 20 years, I have been confessed every relationship problem on this planet. I’ve witnessed entire boxes of tissues being consumed by tearful eyes and heard the bellowing wails belonging to broken hearts. Truly there is nothing that can hurt us quite like love.
Being human means being highly susceptible to our feelings. But the unpredictable tides of emotion can interfere with logic. When this happens, we no longer see the reasoning behind certain situations and perceive, instead, through a sentimental veil, we automatically empathize with the one we love, the one with whom we’ve made a habit of sleeping each night, for whom we worry and fret and supply endless attention.
To our disadvantage, overwhelming emotions can make us neglect the reality that not all relationships are intended to last as long as they do and some aren’t meant to occur at all. Heartfelt attachment drives us to extend temporary relationships to permanent time frames, and to try to fit compromised love into the place of a soulmate. Our stubborn will to “work things out” can cause pain for us and our beloved. In considering these general truths we must turn inward and weigh the truth of our own love relationship. But how are we to know what kind of love we’re really fighting for? How can we validate our relationship to understand its greater scope in the framework of our lives?
Categorizing our own relationship correctly is a decision each of us must make based on our individual needs and desires. There exist four types of love relationships, each serving a unique and necessary purpose to our improvement and evolution. We may experience only one kind of relationship throughout our lives, or we may move through the full range of four, and this is all dependent on the curious interaction between fate and free will. Reflect on the characteristics of the four types of relationships and gain awareness of your true love standing:
A transitory relationship acts as a bridge between two phases of evolution. It can enact change or ease the burden of major life shifts. For example, a relationship for a girl in high school may mature her to a woman by allowing her to learn her first lessons in love. Or a transient relationship after a long marriage has ended may help a person cope with their divorce until they heal. Transitory relationships are almost always temporary, but serve a great purpose in gently pushing a person from one level of self-transformation to the next.
Perhaps the mightiest law of the universe, karma is not some malicious force that boomerangs our wrong-doings back to us. It is the energetic accumulation of every one of our actions, both good and bad. And karma has a reputation for repeating itself. A karmic relationship always entails some form of “action” that must play out within the couple, i.e., the breaking of some pattern or cycle of recurring situations.
After the karma is resolved, however, the relationship may come to an end, as its purpose has been met. Such was the case in my daughter’s relationship: after several years of dating the same person, she simply “woke up” one day and knew it was time to cut the ties. Karmic relationships can sometimes be soulful relationships, too, as I personally shared with my late husband. I knew he was my soulmate from the moment I met him. But I also knew we had a specific karma to reenact. Karmic relationships are enriching experiences that can be progressive, elevating and fulfilling, whether temporary or for the long term.
Most common of the four, a compromise relationship occurs when two people come together based on an arrangement of comfort, such as financial or emotional stability. Many relationships that are meant to end continue on because both partners have become very used to each other and find it difficult to part ways.
In short, they “settle” for one other. They may have children, which causes them further to feel that they’re supposed to stay together, though neither may be fully content or in love. Relationships based on a compromise keep us stuck in a “comfort zone”. But it’s important to evaluate whether we’re truly happy with our partner, or merely comfortable. In my practice I often hear my clients declare that their spouse is a great parent to their children, but that they know deep down their relationship is a compromise.
Many people can feel this in their hearts but shun the inkling aside. In terms of a relationship that is a compromise, it is entirely the free will of both partners whether they wish to remain together or separate. I’ve seen compromise relationships that have lasted a lifetime because neither partner wanted to let go of the other. Though the problem in compromise relationships is that one or both partners may not be completely satisfied, the decision to stay or to go is one’s own.
A soulful relationship denotes a soulmate bond reaching far deeper than the physical or emotional level. Soulmate relationships are far and few but when they do occur, they often last the test of time. This kind of relationship is marked by an intense connection between two people, one that may even be difficult to convey into words. Two people just “get each other” — they may finish each other’s sentences, are best friends, and have adopted the us against the world mentality, among other things.
When soulmates have found each other the feeling is likened to two pieces of a puzzle fitting perfectly together. This is not to say that soulmates won’t experience problems along the course of their relationship. But, they will be able to resolve their issues more easily than couples who aren’t bound by soulful ties.
Love relationships play critical roles in our lives. But perhaps our most difficult task lies in disentangling the emotional knot to reveal the core function of our relationship. Detaching ourselves from our feelings just enough to assess the authenticity of our relationship can make a world of a difference in the quality of love we give and gain.
To your perfect relationship,
Dr. Carmen Harra