Two Types of Relationships


        Life experience has taught me that there are two types of romantic relationships.  The first type is “The Grow Down Relationship.” The second “The Grow up Relationship.” 

        “The Grow Down” relationship is what most seekers of romance generally equate love as being.  I meet a beautiful woman and immediately I try to mold her into my ideal.  This ideal is something Carl Jung called the animus.  It is my unconscious projection of what love should be like.  So I approach her, and what do I do, I don’t try to see if she is my ideal, but I do everything I can to pretend like I might be her ideal.  And if I am able to fool her…we go out.  A relationship ensues, but there is a problem.  Notice that it has nothing to about Josh or Jane…but everything to do with trying to create and maintain the presence of the ideal.  And what happens?  Eventually who we are begins to reveal itself.  The phantom of the ideal leaves us. 

“What do you mean you get older?  My ideal doesn’t get older.”

”What do you mean you might love something or someone more than me?  My ideal loves me above all else.”

 “What do you mean you gain fifteen pounds.  My ideal doesn’t gain fifteen pounds.” 

The relationship based upon fantasized ideals begins to come down to earth.  It begins to grow down.  The couple has three choices–cling to the ideal and face disaster, leave the relationship and try to find the ideal again, or let the ideal go.

A good example of “The Grow Down Relationship” is just about every romantic comedy ever made.  They all go something like this:  Kate Hudson is living a mediocre life and is engaged to some jerk.  Enter Ashton Kutcher.  Ashton helps Kate to realize greater possibilities in her life and greater possibilities in love.  They meet, have an adventure, and fall in love…the credits begin to role and we are left to believe that they live ”Happily Ever After.”

        Have you ever noticed that romantic comedies never have sequels?  When the adventure ends, real life begins.  What happens when Kate and Mathew are at dinner and Kate takes incredibly long to order?  What happens when Kate wants to go out on Saturday night and all Ashton wants to stay at home and take pictures with his camera?  When we hold someone to being what we want them to be we miss out completely on who they are, and perhaps more importantly, the opportunity to be authentic ourselves.

        Don’t say “Down With Love” so quickly, however, because there is another type of romantic relationship.  “The Grow up Relationship.”   

It goes like this–I meet you and you meet me.  We connect.  I’m not interested in getting you to do anything for me or to be anything but yourself.  You’re not interested in me doing anything for you or being anything but yourself.  We find out we have things in common—we  get to know one another—and before long there is this funny feeling we start to get.  It is the blossoming of this connection.  It is an awareness of something greater than we are in our interaction.  It is physical and yet it is spiritual.  It’s love.

        Now there is one particular romantic comedy I know that tells the story of “The Grow up Relationship,”  “When Harry met Sally.”  Harry meets Sally and Sally meets Harry and although he hits on her a bit, they ask nothing of one another.  Throughout the film they serendipitously connect over the years.  The encounters grow and grow as each continues to experience the eventual fate of “The Grow Down Relationship” in his and her life.  Eventually…I think it happens to Meg Ryan first, she begins to feel this something.  Oh God what is it?  It is unfamiliar.  And before you know it, love.

        Now when this happens to any of us it is often a confusing process because we have been so attached to love operating as “The Grow Down Relationship.”  We have to release the “ideal” that in truth, is simply keeping us from true love.  The greatest part of the movie is Harry and Sally realize they don’t want their ideal, but each other.  Perhaps that is true in your life? “I don’t want my ideal, I want him.”  “I don’t want my ideal, I want her.”  When love is more than what you thought it would or should be, you’re on the right track. 

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