What is the Purpose of Relationships?

“Spiritual Relationship is far more precious than physical. Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” ~Epicurus

“Don’t smother each other. No one can grow in the shade.” ~Leo Buscaglia

“Relationships based on obligation lack dignity.” ~Wayne Dyer

“When two people in an intimate-couple relationship look at their interactions as opportunities to learn about themselves instead of change each other, they are infusing their relationship with the energy of spiritual partnership.” ~Gary Zukav

Relationships can carry us to the highest feelings of joy and ecstasy or take us to the lowest depths of despair and anger. So what gives? What are relationships all about?


Are they there to complete us, to fill a void in our hearts?

Are they there to annoy us and bring us misery? Are they there to keep us from being alone?

Are they there to bring us happiness and feelings of being loved?

I find the confusion around the purpose of relationships is the biggest stumbling block to having great relationships, whether they are with an intimate partner, a friend or family member.

So what is the purpose of our relationships? My personal life experience, my work with clients, and my in-depth research and training has helped me narrow it down into four categories that are not mutually exclusive; they intermingle, complement and build on each other. It is ultimately up to us to recognize these categories and in doing so, take complete responsibility for our relationships and how we show up.


Our relationships constantly mirror back to us aspects of ourselves that we like or don’t like. When we admire someone we are seeing aspects of ourselves we like and maybe have yet to develop fully. When we are judging someone what we are really seeing are the hidden aspects of ourselves we dislike and have disowned.

So what do we do with this information once we recognize it? First, we allow ourselves to be present—fully and in all our glory—to express those qualities we so admire. Second, we acknowledge the parts of ourselves we have disowned and accept the full spectrum of our being, realizing that we are both dark and light. This allows us to become more accepting and compassionate human beings.

Relationship mirrors show us where we may not be showing up as the best versions of ourselves. This leads us to the next purpose.

Version enhancing

What does this mean? It means our relationships need to be supportive and encouraging. They need to provide us with an environment that brings out the best version of who we are and what can be—mind, body and soul.

If a relationship is not serving us in this way, we need to ask ourselves why we are in it or what we are not seeing. This is where looking in the mirror may provide clues as to what is missing and why we are not being the best version of ourselves.

Our relationships must provide us with the support and encouragement we need to live our best life as our best self. Getting to this place may take some work which leads me to the next purpose.

Wound healing

Let’s face it, no one comes into a relationship without a past and without some baggage. It could be a small carryon bag or an enormous trunk full of junk. Whatever the case, relationships will find a way to infiltrate and push our buttons, which can trigger an onslaught of adverse reactions to unhealed wounds from our past. Ouch!

When this happens, and trust me it will, we have two choices. The first is to react and attack the button pusher for opening this wound. We think this reaction will protect us and make us feel better. Or the second is to recognize that an old wound has been triggered and it’s time to heal it once and for all.

The problem occurs when these triggers are typically happening on a subconscious level; we need to bring them to our awareness first so we can recognize what is in fact happening. Once we do that, we can start the healing process. This is where we start the next purpose of our relationships.

Personal Growth

This is the icing on the cake of relationships. This is where the real connection on a spiritual level can start to happen and true intimacy can flourish.

If you are not growing from your relationships then you are still on shore and have missed the boat. In a relationship, we either grow as an individual and a couple, or we live a life of complacency, fear, struggle, resentment, and resignation that this is all there is to life.

Relationships provide us with ample opportunity for personal growth through mirror reflections, version enhancement and wound healing. It is up to us to change our perspective on relationships and take back responsibility for our life, our happiness and our freedom.

Of course, this isn’t always easy: people and complex and naturally our relationships have the same complexity. However, for the purpose of this article, these four points of purpose can give you food for thought and something you can start working with right away.

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