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Jul 04 2009

A Relationship has a Mind of Its Own

Published by at 1:54 pm under Advice,Miscellaneous

  • A relationship is a shared mental process.
  • A relationship has a presence, a personality and an emotional impact.  It can and will make demands on both partners. It shapes how partners see each other.  It is a lens through which partners understand each other.
  • It has a mind and a heart of its own but it doesn’t have a body. Instead of flesh and blood, a relationship is formed by the constant flow of the ten thousand messages, and reactions to those messages, that flow constantly between the two minds of the two partners.
  • In other words, a relationship is a spiritual entity.  Like an Angel?  Maybe Except its presence can be seen with scientific instruments. Brain imaging can observe how the neural activity in one partner is mirrored by similar neural activity in the same brain areas in the other partner, a visible marker of empathetic resonance. If it’s an angel, it is one that you can see on a computer monitor.
  • Despite the hard science evidence, a relationship doesn’t live in the concrete world. A relationship lives in the world of stories. Stories register in our brains and make us think and feel in various ways.  We humans are, maybe more than anything else, creatures who tell stories. We live stories and will even die for stories. The deeper, more intimate the relationship, further it sends its roots into both partners’ stories – into the heart of their lives.
  • Seeing a relationship as a semi-independent entity is a different way of looking at relationships. There is a “Me” and a “You” and there is also a “We.”  Sometimes, using this perspective, appreciating how things look to the “We,” the “You” and the “Me” can see opportunities and challenges we couldn’t see otherwise.


The ability to see the relationship as its own reality usually doesn’t develop in people until midlife.

Sometimes this increase in the scope of consciousness creates an inner crisis – people see themselves and their partners, and their partnerships – past, present, and future – in a new light, sometimes harsh, sometimes sympathetic, usually a bit of both.

Crisis or simple developmental process, once you’ve seen the “We” you will never again approach relationships quite the same way.

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