When Is a Relationship Worthwhile?

Recently I have been reflecting on relationships I have had, and I realize that I have developed an unusual way to think about relationship when compared to my friends and clients, so I’ll share it here in case it helps you with your relationships, too.

What Is Relationship?

Have you asked yourself this question recently? Anyone can look up the word for its dictionary meaning, but have you thought about its meaning in terms of your self? Of course, your answer will be different from mine or anyone else’s.

To me, relationship refers to the act of relating, consistently and relatively intensely. And relating refers to one person interacting with three other people: who he perceives the other to be, who the other perceives herself to be, and the other as a more objective “god” would perceive it. The same is true of the other person relating to three of me.

As I wrote in The Six People in Every Couple, I can only fully relate to another person when I can relate to myself: in order to relate to another, I must know who I am, how I feel, and what I think. This is crucial to relationship because the other will have thoughts and feelings about me that differ from my own. If I am unsure of who I am or what I feel—I spent most of my early life being clueless about my identity and feelings—I will be less able to relate because I will be uncertain or threatened when confronted with the other’s feelings or thoughts about me that don’t feel good to my ego. Of course this is true of the other, too.

Even more profound, in Ich und Du, Martin Buber asserts that “relationship” between I and thou (Ich und Du) encompasses ALL a person’s relating because when I recognize my self, that self is the vehicle for my experience of every other person or thing, including “god.” This idea is also central to astrology, where my relating to the world is symbolized by the 1st house and my relating to another person maps to the 7th house. A key point of the 7th house is that I experience my self at a different level by relating to an other.

What Is “Worthwhile?”

Human societies around the world weight longevity very highly when evaluating relationships. Marriage and business partnerships aim to be “built to last.” Although I appreciate the practicality of longevity in relationships, I’ll argue that it is a poor characteristic to live by. Obviously, I realize this is a non-traditional view ;^).

Longevity in relationships is valuable from a practical earthly standpoint. All relationships, whether business, romantic, or rival, require time and energy to develop. Each party invests time and energy into developing the relationship. And you invest in the relationship because you imagine that it will produce something meaningful to you (and to the other).

However, in longer term relationships, I think it’s important to be willing to change or let go when the relationship doesn’t flow with you any more. In my experience, if I am living right, I am changing and growing, and so is the other person. Sometimes, our changes resonate with each other, and this can invigorate a relationship since each person has a companion in change. It can deepen and broaden your intimacy.

Of course, you and your other’s changes may lead you in directions that are less and less compatible. You diverge. In these cases, each person must weigh the value of the experience you have shared—the past—with your diverging selves in the present.

This process can be painful and lead to strife when the partners blame each other for changing in ways that lead to their perceived incompatibility in relationship. This is where knowing the six people in their relationship can be so healing: each partner can own that neither of them is “right,” that they both have their individual images of their selves and the other’s selves. When they do this, much of the personal acrimony and viciousness dissipates.

By recognizing the six people, each partner allows her/himself the space to be her/himself—and allows the other the same freedom. To create this magic, though, each partner must be honest with him/herself and own his/her ego.

How Charts Can Help

Natal charts describe each person’s energies. I think of them as “spiritual skeletons” because they describe one’s energy, the “shape” of one’s vibration. It can help each partner discover her/himself from a new perspective. And it can be illuminating for the other person in the relationship, too.

A crucial point is that, although the charts describe energies, each person creates her/his life through decisions and actions. So the energies themselves do not determine anything. Natal charts can be revolutionary because they enable each partner to perceive, and take responsibility for, her/himself. When the partners do this, they can relate to each other at a much deeper level.

Synastry charts reveal how one partner’s energy interacts with the other’s energy, and this can enable the partners to recognize that, when they see points of friction in their energies, that the other is not “doing that” to antagonize; it’s just his/her energy. And once the partners are aware of these friction points, they can make different choices about how to react to them. Synastry charts also describe points of harmony.

Composite charts describe the vibration of their relationship, which is a third entity: each partner’s vibration interacts with the other’s to create a third vibration. This can be of immense help in evaluating their relationship. Although each partner can swear up and down that they are diverging, that may not be true; it could be that their relationship is confronted by a stressful transit. It can be very healing to discover that their relationship is undergoing a difficult passage, that they are being tested as a couple. It can give them a vision for working through it together.

What Do You Want?

This is where the rubber meets the road in relationships. It can be liberating—and scary—to ask yourself, honestly, what you want in your life, what you want for you, as you. What is important to you? And for the other person do ask him/herself these questions as honestly as possible. Because your answers can guide you in where to take your relationship. If your values align, it can be good to know that. If the partners want different things, that can be liberating, too.

For me, it is important to be willing to let go of anything in my life, to not try to retain something simply as an end in itself. We all go through stages of life, and sometimes we create immense meaning with an other for a while, maybe a long while, but we subsequently discover that it’s time to let go.

There can be no creativity and growth without letting go of some things. Creating means changing: adding and subtracting. I have learned this through Pluto, which is prominent in my natal chart; it has close aspects to almost every other planet. Transformation means letting go at times.

Many relationships endure pain and loneliness because the partners are afraid of being alone; in effect, fear is the driving force for the relationship’s longevity. Paul Simon’s The Dangling Conversation is a chilling depiction of such a relationship.

Personally, I have transformed my way of valuing relationship. Having had a multigenerational tradition of divorce on both sides of my family of origin, I prized longevity. However, I wasn’t doing charts when I got married. Later I discovered that, since my natal chart had Uranus, Pluto, and North Node in the 7th house,  anything could, and probably would, happen. Pluto’s presence, though, has led me to rethink what relating is.

Now, the most important thing for me in relationship, whether in business or romance, is “Can we create meaning now?” I don’t think about how long the relationship will last because my personal approach to life is creating meaning, challenging myself. I perceive that life is temporary. I live with carpe diem on my lips.

Every person will have different answers to the question of what s/he values and wants. Honesty with self can be difficult because most of us grow up in families in which we compromise our selves for the group. Many of us make such compromises that we don’t even know who we are or how we feel. So, honesty with self means meeting one’s self. And one may discover that one needs to make changes in one’s life. These are all beautiful choices we can make, and they are often life-defining.

I perceive that each person weaves her/his life with the threads of each choice and action s/he makes. We are dancing with the universe, and every move creates a pattern of our tapestry.

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