I won't waste any time getting to the point. The only good reason to ever be in a relationship is freedom. There are no exceptions. I'm sorry.
I'm sorry because the road to freedom is the road less traveled. And the reason for this is that on the front end, it appears a lot more difficult than the alternatives. If you've never tried it, it sounds horrible. And in truth, the road itself is pretty treacherous. But the destination is so worth it. Those of us who have ever been through something painful and gotten free of some fear or some limiting belief through the experience, know that the seemingly dangerous and uncertain road toward freedom is always worth the trouble. We know that to have taken the low-impact alternative route would have resulted in even more suffering over the long term... The kind of suffering that perpetuates suffering, not the kind that eventually gets you free.
So let's be honest - finding freedom is not the reason most of us get into relationships, but it should be. Most people enter into relationships to find comfort and security, or to feel a sense of meaning and purpose. Now, I don't want to take any of these things away from anyone, but I will suggest that all of them are wildly misunderstood and that relationships are not the right place to fulfill our need for them. If we don't already have them, trying to extract them from our relationship will only disappoint us.
When it comes to comfort and security, the most blaring misunderstanding about them is that they exist at all in relationships. They don't exist in the ways our hopeful hearts long to believe they can. The popular narratives on long term relationships don't accurately portray how real relationships tend to develop. We are complex creatures with myriad desires that even within ourselves can be paradoxical and impossible to fully reconcile. Add in another person with their own set of desires and try to rely on them, set up a life together, and peg our sense of comfort and security on our relationships with them. You can kiss the idea of comfort and security goodbye. Seriously: we are fickle creatures. Desire is unpredictable. To set up our relationships based on what we want now (assuming we can even make up our mind which of our many coexisting desires is loudest) and then to assume we will want the same thing in the future, is foolish. Our desire will change, period. And to expect our partner's desire will remain in line with our own is even more naive. Their future desire is even more unknown to us than our own. Entering into a relationship for comfort and security is just absolutely fool hearted. Ultimately comfort and security only ever come from developing a personal sense of power so strong that we know we will be alright whatever happens. That is the only way it can be real.
And on the topic of meaning and purpose, I know it's tempting to derive our sense of them from love, but to do so will mean that we are always dependent on the state of the relationship for our own sense of connection to purpose. Much like with comfort and security, the only way meaning and purpose really ever belong to us is if they would still be ours, whether or not we had the relationship. Looking to a relationship to provide comfort, security, purpose or meaning is always a trap. When the relationship changes (and it inevitably will), if we don't have a sense of all of those things within, and independent of our partner, we will do some pretty crazy things to maintain the status quo. Co-dependence, dishonesty, controlling, obligation, disconnection on a fundamental level - these are all born of the desperation that sets in when we grip to the form of a relationship that wants to naturally change.
In my work as a desire coach, I work with a lot of people who have set up their relationships to provide them with something they were missing. Some come to me for help in redesigning their relationships once they realize it's not working. Others come to me for support in leaving their relationships. Either way, they are looking for a way out of this dynamic because it always unfulfilling.
Because ultimately what we all want out of life is freedom. Through every goal, every passion, every sense of purpose or meaning, the thing we yearn to touch is a sense of freedom. Whether that be freedom from our fear, from our inhibitions, from our patterns and conditioning - or whether it be freedom to follow our desire, to create something truly incredible, or to simply be at peace - freedom seems to be the state through which we can have the fullest experience of life. That is why relationships based on supporting each others mutual freedom are the most rewarding.
Ever since I became clear that what I wanted most was freedom, I began to look at relationships differently. I began to see that many of my relationships with people had become places where I didn't feel free. Out of a sense of obligation, a sense of doing the appropriate thing, or a sense of guilt or shame, I would refrain from following my desires. I would commit to forms of relationship that I could feel were not in line with my passions and purpose. And I would expect the same from my partner. I was terrified to have an effect on someone that they might experience as negative. I was equally terrified of getting hurt. So I created relationship dynamics that kept us safe from each others truths, that created an illusion of security and stability. However, there was never any real stability in those relationships because they were based on the shaky foundation of fear.
People will return to the place where they feel most free. When our fear is stronger than our desire, sometimes this can take years, but ultimately desire will have it's way. It will covertly sabotage any relationship that does not support us being free people. Perhaps we will slowly grow apart and eventually leave so that we can have the experiences our relationship prevented us from having. Perhaps we steal little bits of freedom by cheating on our partner. Perhaps we will stay with them but we will always relish the moments when we are out in the world without them, able to truly be ourselves, and resent the time we spend with them, unable to be free. In any relationship not founded upon freedom, connection will always break down. For most of us, once we understand this, it's no longer a viable option.
Really the only viable option is using our relationship as a means to get more free. Waking up and getting free is certainly not for the faint of heart, but isn't it convenient that love is one of the most powerful motivators on the planet? And isn't it wonderful that we can use the power of love to guide us toward greater freedom?