On Relationships

Tao of Pooh
‘So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh.
There’s always Pooh and Me.’
“What would I do?”  I said to Pooh,
“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True”
“It isn’t much fun for One, but Two
Can stick together,” says Pooh, says he.
“That’s how it is,” says Pooh.

From early childhood, we sense a natural and growing need to experience life as a separate, self-reliant being.  But we soon discover, although mostly unconsciously, that while having a sense of self is vital to our well-being, our needs for love, companionship, play and emotional security can only be found in a relationship with another.

‘This is how it is’, says Pooh.  ‘It is much more fun for two than one.’  And this is also what science tells us . . .    that we are relational beings and that we are biologically and neurologically hardwired for relationships.  Our brains are wired to ‘read’ others.  This need for social connection is a primal survival need.  Even the smallest gesture – holding a door for a stranger – reinforces this fundamental wiring. 

In his book, I and Thou, the German philosopher, Martin Buber, writes that life is relationships.  Our relationships exist in the time and space we share – in the moments, days and years we spend together.  This space is sacred; it is the very sacredness of life, according to Buber.  Without relationships, he concludes, we cannot and do not exist! 

All this has a ring of truth to it, but our life experience tells us of another side to relationships – one that is more complicated and at times quite challenging.   And no matter how much we want our relationships to be comfortable and predictable, there is a feeling of uncertainty to them.  Sooner or later problems arise and we will inevitably feel  sad, frustrated, hurt or some other painful emotion.  

But rather than trying to fix our relationship problems and “get them right” once and for all, a better way to view our relationships is as works in progress  – not finished products. 

With this shift in our approach, we can then open our hearts and minds to our relationships and, at any moment, begin anew.