The Whole Point of Every Relationship (Is Probably Not What You Think It Is)


Natasha Blank is not an expert on relationships, but she’s had a bunch, and here are a few things she’s learned from them.

I’m not an expert on relationships, but I’ve had a bunch and learned from them.

At least enough to gain some intellectual insight that (hopefully) translates over time into a living breathing shift of being.

Turns out, it’s not about making each other happy, or any other kind of imagined perfection. It’s about helping the person in front of you be everything they truly are.

Here are some ways to do that.

1. Hold each other accountable.

Understand the gift your partner is here to give this world.

2. Call bullshit.

Reflect when he or she isn’t giving it.

3. Let go.

Trust in your partner’s separate journey, even when what their doing makes zero sense to you.

4. Remember that your job is not to make your partner happy.

It’s to allow them the space to find their own happiness—when you’re together, and when you’re apart.

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 11.14.39 PM5. Be honest. 

One hundred percent. The permission you give yourself to be all of who you are is what creates that space.

6. Fight well.

You’re both on the same team. Your opposition is the misunderstanding—not each other.

7. Embrace attraction to others.

It’s there. Communicate, be clear (with everyone, including yourself), and enjoy your fabulous human existence.

8. Do your work.

It’s usually not about him, or her. Your partner is a flashlight illuminating where you’ve still got work to do. Those feelings of jealousy, resentment and hurt? They’re showing you all the places in you that need your own healing.

9. Remember that you’re a mirror, too.

Reflect back all the beauty that lives in your partner. Especially when he or she forgets.

 10. Enjoy the ride, man!

Seriously. You’re never going to figure it all out, so you might as well just love everybody.

This list is totally incomplete. Have some of your own lessons from the road to share? Post in the comments below. We all thank you.


Originally appeared at Elephant Journal


About Natasha Blank:

Natasha Blank is a dancer, dj, integrative healer, and the founder of Get Your Dance On. She creates collective experiences that feed our hunger for life through radical self expression, and plays in the spaces where creativity and healing meet. She is also in the midst of dancing every single day for a year, and invites you to join her. You can find out more about her journey at Get Your Dance On
Photo: Flickr/Sarah
About Elephant Journal

Elephant Journal is a reader-created open forum dedicated to bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society. Voted #1 in the US for #green on twitter twice, our focus is on "the mindful life": yoga, organics, sustainability, conscious consumerism, non-new-agey spirituality, the arts, wellness, conscious love, relationships and healthy sexuality.


  1. Ya, I love this and shared it on FB as “the type of relationship I hope I get to have one day.” But, I agree that not everyone would like to have this, some do want a much more static and safe thing. I had a partner like this for 10 years. He wanted us to take responsibility for each other’s happiness, etc.. and valued sacrifice as a proof of love, over negotiation and adaptation in order to try to enable each party to grow while being together. Calling bullshit was seen as betrayal, no matter how it was delivered (oh and I tried to do so lovingly).
    So, it is true that this is a type of relationship that not all wish to have. I personally love the ideas here and feel it is useful for me to keep in mind as I hope to find a person who would like a partnership that is about growing and experiencing life together, not settling in to safety and sameness. Thanks!

  2. #7 Is about moving beyond our societal programming. The literal application is not really the point. Many people hold the expectation and ideal that monogamy implies never fully acknowledging an attraction to someone besides your partner to anyone overtly and especially not your partner! If you remove that pressure and just have open (tactful) honesty in your relationship, people dont feel trapped by commitment and maintain some internal autonomy which in turn creates a deeper bond and fidelity. You dont have to actually f##k other people or even have that on the table for this practice to work.

  3. and along those same lines………….

    “Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love we have to invest time and commitment…’dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of the love — which is to transform us.’ Many people want love to function like a drug, giving them an immediate and sustained high. They want to do nothing, just passively receive the good feeling.
    — bell hooks – See more at:

  4. Yeah, #7 is interesting. I’m assuming you’re under 30 but could be wrong. Sounds like a Kontiki Tour. But if your happy with the “No claim, no fault thing” why be in a relationship? But someone’s gunna get hurt.

  5. Great list! I think that’s what it’s all about. Setting boundaries, knowing where you stand, where your partner stands. Relationships are constant work, a lot of people don’t realize that the best relationships aren’t naturally the best. They’re good because both parties put in the time and work to make it happen.

  6. Uzi Peretz says:

    I like this. Quick and to the point. Nice job!

  7. In addition to #4, it’s also not your partner’s job to make you happy. That is your job, and if you’re unhappy, don’t automatically blame it on your partner or expect them to fix it. (Unless your partner is abusive or controlling, of course.) They should show support, yes, but the only one who can make you happy is yourself.

  8. Joe Sparks says:

    These are great guidelines for a healthy relationship, that most of us did not have growing up. And the adults in our lives modeled poor relationships, it is no surprise we struggle in building close, caring, connected relationships with each other. We need to slow things down in order to have connection that is truly meaning. It means we have to take time to listen to each other.

  9. What exactly do you mean by 7?…

    • I took it that you’re attractive and your partner is attractive so embrace that other people will find them attractive like you do, i.e. don’t get jealous. Just because someone finds your partner attractive doesn’t mean they reciprocate those same feelings for that person or that even if they did they will actually act on them! My boyfriend has been asked out many times and I find it hilarious but heart-warming at the same time because people see in him what I see in him. I’ve been asked out and he feels the same way I do. We trust each other not to do anything that will hurt one another or damage our relationship. But I love that other people find him attractive, and that he’s with me!

  10. My husband (Jay Palter, a Good Men Project contributor) lives these 10 values consistently. 14 years later (today infact) I learn to be a better partner through his example every day.

  11. Valter Viglietti says:

    At first, I loved this article. It really resonates with my vision of a relationship: growing, evolving, expanding, becoming.

    After a while, though, I found something disturbing in it: it’s somehow “directive”, like “This is the RIGHT way to live a relationship”, like there was only one way.
    And then I thought how it was just 60 years ago or before, when life was hard and survival wasn’t a given, and couples were much more busy with hardships than with their personal growth.

    This made me realize there isn’t just one “right” way to live a relationship: it can revolve around making each other happy, or anything else. And, as long as both people want it that way, it’s perfectly fine – even if we don’t like it that way.
    Take the BDSM lifestyle: most people would be appalled knowing the behaviours BDSMers enjoy, yet they like it that way. There’s no “one size fits all”.

    Some people do not want to grow (because it’s hard or painful), thus the relationship they want should work that way. Hence, any point in the article can be questionable. #5. Honesty, for example: some people do not want to hear the truth, they can’t handle it, so their partner must be selective about his or her honesty.

    In the end, while I still agree with most of the article, I understand it cannot work for everybody.
    It’s a good “recipe”, but just one recipe amongst many different ones.

    • luke tepid says:

      sure sure…but what about the moon?..did you see it?….

      • I did see the moon. It was remarkable. And I agree that this article is silly. I want to read something by someone who has been married 30 years, not some little girl who skips from one boyfriend to another. My husband uses 3,4,7 and 10 as blunt instruments when I ask him why he didn’t come home last night. Sure, it’s not someone else’s job to make you happy but why induce misery by holding onto a relationship that gets in the way of your wanting to be single again. Even if I counter with 1 and 2, he comes back with his 3, 4, 7 and 10. Gets us nowhere. You have to have a solid set of mutually agreed upon core values and behaviours. Never marry anyone who doesn’t share your values, intellect and personal boundaries.

        • Valter Viglietti says:

          @Jane: “Never marry anyone who doesn’t share your values, intellect and personal boundaries.”

          That’s a really good starting point. Alas, hormones, romantic myths and social conditioning, might make people blind to common sense.
          Perhaps, the worst myth is “S/He will change” or, worse yet, “I can change him/her”. Never works (especially tha latter).
          OTOH, if people were logic, reasonable and aware that any relationship is messy (including their own), very few would marry…

          Regarding the silliness of this article, I think the author has a “blind spot”: it seems to me, she’s assuming that most people have a level of intelligence, awareness and personal growth that’s enough to handle all of those points.
          But I think that, in reality, not many people are that “evolved”; and, without those “ingredients”, the recipe (although good in its own way) doesn’t – and cannot – work.

        • “I want to read something by someone who has been married 30 years, not some little girl who skips from one boyfriend to another. ”

          Well, that was a pretty rude, ignorant and ridiculous thing to say.

  12. luke tepid says:

    um the only accurate thing in this whole piece are the first 6 words….the rest is just utter silliness….

    • Valter Viglietti says:

      Or, maybe yours is a case of someone pointing to the moon… and you’re only able to see the finger. 😉

    • John Hardman says:

      And, Mr. Tepid, what have you learned from relationships or have you ever had one with such a nom de plume?

  13. This is priceless, Natasha…absolutely and utterly priceless wisdom. Conscious living and loving. My perspective is that, after a few ‘duff starts’ relationships-wise – including two failed marriages – I adopted the view that I hadn’t communicated clearly enough when I was unhappy. That, and not working on my ‘inner gunge’, were instrumental in demolishing those relationships.

    Purest Awesomeness! :{D

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Richard! Sounds like you truly learned and grew from the challenges of those relationships. May your future ones have loads of yummy honesty and open communication! There’s nothing quite like it. Scary at times, but so worth it.


  14. Yes, yes, yes! A relationship that has a common purpose can last forever. That way both parties are concentrating on the tasking rather than each other.You can become partners in evolution and agents of change together! There is nothing richer or more rewarding in my experience. (I have been with my partner for over thirty years, researching and teaching about energy worlds.)

  15. I think Ms Blank nailed it! This answers the question as to why some relationships are vital and full of meaning and why some relationships never create anything meaningful. Sometimes the ultra spiritual, out of my body feel no (growth) pain experiences of relationship are just not a real enough for a person to experience growth.

  16. Wish I’d read this before I got entangled in a relationship! I might not have bothered.

  17. Love it, Natasha!

    #8….awesome. …well #9….awesome too. ….well…all of ’em really.

    …but #10 – really liked #10! ;^)

  18. John Hardman says:

    Good list Natasha! I was noticing all your suggestions required partners to be active. I often mention that relationship is a verb not a noun. It is the act of relating with another, not some static skill set that couples have to follow. It is much like the dance you teach… find the rhythm and follow your instincts.

    • i love that insight john. no skill set is static – just as much as no relationship is static! and so true that the art of relating can be practiced in any situation, whether you share a home or just a few passing moments together. it’s often the place you’ll learn the most about yourself, where you can break free of old patterns and find your way into the most liberated kind of love. just like dance 🙂

      • John Hardman says:

        Yes, all your rhythms are fluid in any relationship. Each has their own rhythm and we must learn to dance to the new relationship rhythm. Life is not monotone, but variable, a jazz rhythm that we intuitively adapt to. Relationship is not static, not a noun.

  19. What if your boyfriend refuses to get a real job because he thinks his rap career will one day take off and you are getting a bit tired of being supportive? lol

    • John Hardman says:

      I think #2 sums it up pretty well…

    • Kim, sometimes being supportive means telling the person you love what they don’t want to hear. If he’s not fully embodying his gifts and truly working towards manifesting them as a viable life path, call him on it! It’s easy to date someone’s “potential.” If he’s really working for it, support him where you can and trust his path. If he’s not 100% in, the wake up call he needs may be you giving him the hard truth, one way or another.

    • Anonymous says:

      Number #3 for that one!

    • Well, if he’s really good, be supportive of it. If he sucks, drive him to improve himself and his art.

      But he totally does have to get a day job. I make dubstep/EDM. I spend a couple hours a day on average on it, so it sucks up a lot of time, but I’m pretty darn good with it. Not making any money on it, and I spend the rest of my day working as a journalist, but I support myself with my day job.

      If he can’t support himself, he’s a leech.. Sorry.

  20. Great post and great advice! Will definitely be forwarding this to friends

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