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.