For those looking for a partner, the prospect of a relationship can be very exciting. However, those who are in a relationship often complain about their situation, as though they were in a cage or prison. Why is it that something that shows such promise on the outside should turn out to be disappointing on the inside? One of the reasons why relationships go sour has to do with how one approaches a relationship.
A relationship is a connection or bond joining two people. The idea of a bond carries with it the sense of being a tie, or chain. Even the concept of relationships already has the connotation of a form of bondage. Why is this?
Relationships are binding when they are based on attachment. Attachment means expectations about one’s partner, a desire to get what we want. However, there’s no guarantee that our partner can always give us what we want. To understand the problem with attachment let us examine what attachment means in terms of its structure.
Attachment can be conceived of as a cord connecting two distinct entities. Connecting through a cord means each partner remains essentially the same as they were before the relationship. Furthermore the cord serves to limit movement, where each partner pulls the other in their own direction.
Attachment results in the partner becoming a ball and chain, a burden to be carried, a restriction to freedom.
However, relationships can also be based on love. When we love someone we see our connection to them as a channel that expands our being to include the being of our partner. This sense of expansion changes our world as expressed in the following line of Elton John’s Your Song.
How wonderful life is now that you’re in the world. With love, our partner is not a restriction to our freedom, but one who breaks through the boundaries of our narrow existence, who doesn’t allow us to be simply who we are, who constantly challenges us to become something we could not possibly be left to our own devices. A relationship based on love frees us from the cage of the separate self.