Kristan Hoffman

writing dreams into reality

On relationships and songs

Recently a friend asked me, “What is the point of a relationship?”

He didn’t mean it in a negative or sarcastic way. He was genuinely curious.

As he pointed out, people in our society don’t really need a spouse to secure income, housing, or other basic needs. We have friends and family to act as our support networks. We can even make babies and raise kids on our own.

So, if not to provide, then what is the point of a relationship?

Of course I could only answer for myself, and I’m not an expert by any means. But for me, the “point” of a relationship is to have a partner. A teammate. Someone to help you navigate (and hopefully enjoy) the inevitable ups and downs of life.

A relationship gives you someone to celebrate your successes with — to make the good even better. Someone to share your letdowns with — to make the bad more bearable. Someone who will push you to grow, while also accepting you as you are. Someone who loves you at your worst, but inspires you to be your best.

And someone who makes you want to do all those things for them in return.

A few caveats/addendums:

  • Obviously this is idealized language. I don’t think any relationship looks or feels that perfect every single second. But hopefully at least some of those things are cemented into the foundation upon which a couple builds their daily life.
  • A significant other is not the only person who can fill these roles, and not everyone even wants a significant other.
  • A relationship doesn’t need to compete with friends or family. I think the best relationships tend to be complementary. (Which is not the same as complimentary — although that’s good too!)
  • There’s also the physical aspect of relationships, which family can’t provide and friends usually shouldn’t.

Q: What is the point of a relationship?

A: What is the point of a song?

There is no point. A song is its own reason. People will enjoy different aspects of a song, and people will enjoy different kinds of songs. There are all sorts of things you can point to — “It sounds nice.” “It makes me feel good.” “I relate to the lyrics.” — but at the end of the day, none of those things are the point.

A song is a song. You either like it or you don’t.

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8 Comments

  1. I think a song is a good analogy, since I’ve seen a lot of people get into trouble by going into a relationship expecting that it was going to do this and that and the other specific things for them — which is too much pressure to put on anything before it even starts, and it could mean you’ll miss the good things it is doing that you didn’t even expect.

    Looking back, I can definitely say that the times when I’ve been in a relationship were very different from the times when I haven’t been, but I can’t say that either state made me happier. Different, yes, with different types of happiness and different types of unhappiness, but overall they probably balance out.

  2. I have never considered relationships in that light. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’ve always believed families are the building bricks of society, and without them civilization crumbles. There was a day, maybe 60+ years ago, but there was a time when people understood that marriage and children constituted more than a selfish fulfillment, but a service and advancement of humanity as a whole.

    Or not. Maybe I’m just blowing smoke, but those seem to be the aspects my grandparents lament when we have those deep and long winded discussions.

    • I think everyone has their own answer to the question — and I appreciate you sharing yours! I will say that I don’t think most people are choosing marriage or children our of “selfishness” — but I agree that many people probably aren’t thinking about “advancing humanity” either. :P

  3. I like this analogy. While I’ve never questioned the point of a relationship, I have wondered about the origins of singing and why it’s so universally appealing. I guess just because we like to hear it.

  4. yogadog

    “What is the point of a song?” That’s a slippery existential slope question. You might well ask, what is the point of anything? And likely, there is no point. So you might as well sing.

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