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Each of your love relationships, further define you.
If you allow it, your relationships can be the means by which you confidently explore your life. Each teaches you much about who you are and who you want to be. Your love relationships will consistently challenge your commitment to pursue and achieve your goals. You will at times need to choose whether you allow the relationship (and the goals and ambitions of your partner) to define your existence, whether you can mutually thrive by supporting each others' needs as individuals, or whether you choose to end the relationship, knowing that to stay would change the course of your life in a way that is not right for you.

A healthy love relationship is mutually respectful and supportive, allowing both members the privilege of achieving their individual goals and aspirations. Ideally, you and your partner come home at the end of the day to the comfort and safety of your relationship, to share your challenges and accomplishments and to feel supported and encouraged by one another.

It is when you give up on yourself, denying your desires and ambitions that you lose your self in relationship. It is when your identity becomes merged with that of your partner, and you settle for a life different from what you had decided for yourself, that you are then defined by your relationship.

Being in a love relationship enables you to heal the wounds of your past.
The emotional and psychological wounds that you carry from your family of origin continue to affect your present day interactions with others. It isn't until you can experience the significance of being deeply loved and cherished by someone entirely separate from your family of origin - someone separate from the source of those originating wounds - that you can begin to heal from them. To heal from your past requires that you feel a depth of love that is comforting and trustworthy so that you can feel safe to experience similar situations with your family of origin or others, and to work through these with the reassuring support and encouragement of your love relationship.

For example, Jack's parents separated when he was four. His mother and father both remarried, and his father moved out of the country and began a completely new life. Jack saw him only once every seven or eight years. Jack's stepfather had four children of his own to parent, and so Jack never quite felt as though he had his stepfather's attention for long. Instead of feeling loved and cared for by two fathers, Jack was left on his own as both men were physically and emotionally unavailable.

Jack grew up feeling 'let down' and abandoned in many ways by both men. He 'quietly' continued to carry these hurts around with him, even though he had protected himself from the threat of further abandonment by creating an invisible barrier, and allowing only select people in. As a single man, Jack didn't really have the full experience of looking at this childhood wound because his friendships did not require that he fully open up and share of himself for the purpose of healing. His relationships with friends existed and thrived without operating at this deeper level.

It wasn't until Jack was in a love relationship, that he was confronted with the underlying emotional wound of abandonment. Whenever Jack and Leanne would have a serious fight, her initial instinct was to walk away, leaving Jack alone and feeling emotionally abandoned. Fortunately, he was able to acknowledge and eventually overcome his deeply embedded fear as it surfaced at different times, threatening the permanence of his new love relationship.

In a love relationship where you allow yourself to be completely vulnerable, you do so trusting in your partner to love you fully and completely. Even as you navigate through the challenges and problems inherent in all relationships, it is here that you heal from the hurt and pain of your past through the experience of having someone remain committed and devoted to you and the relationship. To overcome any of your earlier wounds from childhood is to heal from them.

Your love relationships have the capacity to teach you invaluable lessons, significant to the rest of your life.
Your love relationships are wonderful for teaching you more about your self than you could ever learn independent of them. They have the potential for revealing with honesty, the way in which your actions and behaviors affect others. Your love relationships offer many invaluable lessons: they challenge you to create healthy boundaries, understand differences, and learn acceptance. They teach you about the importance of self, since you need to take care of your own needs in order to be able to freely give of your self to others.

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