Interpersonal relationships define us. When we are fortunate enough to experience a loving relationship, we achieve positive characteristics such as security and confidence. Conversely, when we experience negative relationships, we become withdrawn, guarded, and wary of engaging in future relationships. However, it is this wariness that causes us to examine our contribution to the relationship to make the next one, or current one, more successful. In essence, it is not just the good or bad relationships that make us who we are, but also what we learn about ourselves from them.
Relationships take a great deal of work to be successful, and there are no guarantees that they will be. In his film, Leo Buscaglia, discusses the importance of relationships. Since every individual is unique, it takes continued effort from both parties to effectively understand each other. It is, after all, as Leo said, “There is no right person; we become the right person”. He also suggests that vulnerability is equally as important as understanding the other person. It is the “art of letting things happen” – we, as individuals, need to be open to being hurt – because the future is unpredictable, but be entitled to the joys as well.
Paul Simon once wrote a song entitled “I am a Rock”, in which he concludes his song by saying “I am A Rock, I am and island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries.” This communicates that interpersonal bonds, or relationships, cause so much pain, so instead of being part of a group, it is better to be alone. If he or she is, they will never feel pain or cry. To survive he does not need anyone he just needs himself. It is likely that this song was written from a broken heart. So often people believe that when they have their heart “broken” they will never love again. But that, in essence, is love. Part of loving is the endless nights crying, saying, “I hate them,” when you really love them, the tests, and the trials. Yes, we can survive by ourselves. Yes, we can be independent and never feel pain, but are we then feeling anything, and in turn really living? I along with many others, have felt this pain and out of my naivety believed people would have to be a masochist to be in other relationships, when in the end we repeat the cycle. So why continue in this cyclic way? Because love is not just the pain: it is the ecstasy, the joy, the laughter, the needing of someone else, and also, having that someone need you as well. Even so, one cannot really survive by themselves. The deeper meaning of this song that many people relate to because they, too, have experienced times when the going gets tough and there are no more tears to cry. So why not prevent all of this suffering by just being alone. This only leads to more isolation, more suffering, more pain, and more tears. This is where the importance of relationships lies, knowing that there will be struggles because there are no guarantees, but also experiencing the ecstasy along the way.
Conflict and mistakes are inevitable. This does not, however, necessarily mean that all relationships are doomed from the start. Individuals in relationship have control over themselves, not control over their circumstances. Since everyone is human, and every human makes mistakes, it is more than likely going to happen. Thoughtfulness, caring, sharing, giving, forgiving, and communicating are all learned traits on the road to a healthy relationship.
A poet by the name of John Donne once wrote that No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent’. This poem not only suggests that man cannot survive by himself, but also that every man is part of something larger. If they ceased to exist, their lack of presence would not go unnoticed. It is impossible to avoid belonging to someone – everybody does.
People learn from their mistakes, as well as their pain. With no pain, there is no gain; without pain one cannot move on and experience new things. If a person isolates his entire life, he will not experience life to its full potential. Isolation prevents relationships, and relationships are what we need to survive.