Relationship or arrangement, what is the difference?
Relationship or arrangement, what is the difference?
As we move through life a constant stream of people flow in and out of our lives, some remaining for decades while some fall by the wayside. We have relatives that we hold near and dear and others we may struggle to bond with. Some of us take a partner for life while others may drift apart. We are forever deciding who we are willing to bring closer and who we would prefer to keep as casual acquaintances.
All these examples have always been commonly referred to as ‘relationships’. But is this word more of a general terminology, and is there more to be discovered when we start to look at the different sort of relationships on offer?
When it comes to choosing our friends and partners, we become very selective and rightly so; however, when we begin to look at the how and why it starts to become apparent that we are being selective for a number of reasons. We choose to establish relationships with others usually because they make us feel good, and why would it be any other way, whether it be their appearance, persona, aroma, jovial attitude, common interest, or because they make us feel safe and wanted in a world where this is very often lacking. Then once accepted into our lives for one or a number of these traits, whether that be on a casual or more permanent basis, we are saying yes to having a relationship with them.
These choices and decisions we make to bring people into our lives based on a commonality or a non-threatening feeling we experience are only the first steps to entering into a relationship. For as will be revealed, a ‘true relationship’ is much more than this, so in order to distinguish between this first step and what can follow we will refer to this as stage one, or an ‘arrangement’.
Once entered into, this first stage or ‘arrangement’ is a place we can easily stay settled in, and why not?... it is a place where we all know what is expected of each other, where we share niceties, banter, general conversation and in many instances we have a common thread that attracted us to one another in the first place, whether it be looking for a partner, a sport, hobby, politics, religion, work, family, our children or a mixture of these things. You could say arrangements become a place of comfort because each party knows what they can expect.
So why do we even choose to establish an arrangement in the first place? Why do we choose to bring people closer to us or more so, why do we choose certain people?
Everyone has something different to offer and being the sensitive beings that we are, we often keep people close that we know will support us to feel better about ourselves, like offering a sense of belonging, validating us or lifting our self-esteem – all the while, quite often unknowingly, protecting ourselves from feeling rejected or exposing an insecurity.
We make our choice based on our needs, then once the selection has been made and an arrangement is formed we tend to settle in and not expect too much more from it as we start to feel comfortable. We are getting what we need to get us through life and are not being challenged to be anything more or to expose any of our underlying hurts we may have hidden away. Our arrangements become a safe place where we choose to stay protected.
Importantly, we must be aware of the fact that whilst we are agreeing to have others in our lives because they deliver what is needed, others are choosing us in exactly the same way so that they can get what they need in return. We enter into an unspoken contract stating that neither party will ask any more than what was originally presented when the arrangement was confirmed.
When we enter into a contract we are formerly agreeing to the state of contraction we are willing to accept.
We can look at our arrangements the same way we look at most contracts; an agreement both parties are willing to accept, with clearly defined terms and conditions. In most cases however, without realising it we are entering into a contract with ourselves first and foremost, of what we are prepared to accept or not accept from others and what we are prepared to offer others about ourselves.
Through our life’s journey we are continuously working on a model of how we want the world to perceive us, whilst strategically keeping hidden all the parts where we feel vulnerable or inferior. We even get creative to a point where we have different models for different situations, as with family, friends and work. These models are basically lists of conditions that are expectations we have on ourselves and others that will define how we behave, and what we are prepared to accept. They not only restrict us personally but are used consciously and subconsciously to evaluate others when seeking relationships. These restrictions on ourselves ensure that we will only offer the parts of ourselves we are comfortable with and not offer anything that may give others the opportunity to judge or ridicule us. We start to feel comfortable and at ease with others when they are meeting our conditions, and likewise when they are not we start to feel uncomfortable and uneasy. The more comfortable we feel, the more likelihood the first step will be taken and an arrangement will be formed.
So how do you distinguish what is an arrangement and what is a relationship?
If we have only ever been in arrangements and never experienced a true relationship it can be very hard to distinguish between the two. On the outside they all appear and feel like relationships as that is all we know, however if we are prepared to dig a little the truth is easily exposed.
You have now no doubt become aware that arrangements are based on the complications of the conditions and expectations aforementioned, therefore by nature they are complicated, and as you will read on you will discover relationships offer simplicity.
True relationships are free from protection in the sense that your heart is constantly open so that the love can flow freely back and forth simultaneously: they require a commitment to a greater level of openness, honesty, respect, truth and love, firstly within ourselves and then with others. This commitment when true brings with it constant opportunity for growth and development, which at times can be challenging but also rewarding as it reveals more of who we are and what each has to offer, drawing us out of comfort and protection and bringing our true nature to the fore.
On the other hand, arrangements have conditions regulating the amount of love that is able to flow; they are a place of convenience and comfort where we can keep ourselves hidden away and not have to expose any of our insecurities or shortcomings. It is also a place where we are constantly referring back to and adjusting our conditions to ensure they are still working for us in keeping our hurts and insecurities protected. We have chosen people based on these conditions to support our needs, and because of this we have to constantly monitor the situation.
If at any point we decide that some or all of our arrangements are no longer working for us and we start to adjust the conditions the arrangements were built on by being more open, vulnerable, honest or truthful, it will no doubt trigger an uneasiness in others, thereby enforcing a contract review. It is worth noting here that whilst we are actively assessing our arrangements others are doing exactly the same, so at any point in the arrangement we could begin to feel tension should others start to ask more of us.
Once we start assessing our conditions and asking more of ourselves, one of three things may happen:
Should we alter our conditions and start to be more open and honest, the other party may feel uneasy and not as comfortable. Not knowing how to deal with this could easily threaten the unspoken contract and lead to the end of the arrangement, either abruptly or over time.
At any point, usually in the early stages of the transition, we may begin to feel an uneasiness or tension ourselves as we are faced with resistance. Those not wanting to accept these new changes can either push back or walk away, and if we are not firm in our resolve we can easily revert back to the original conditions of the comfortable arrangement; it is then our decision as to the level of comfort we are willing to accept, let go of or otherwise endure as a compromise.
The third and final way is for the other party to feel what is on offer and begin to align. The arrangement can then take its next step and start to evolve into a relationship.
With both parties now aligned there is an agreement to evolve, which by definition means a deeper level of intimacy is now asked of where we stand without protection, revealing everything we are. All concerned are now free to explore and uncover their issues, which are best simply described as obvious or deeply hidden protections that we have accumulated. These are movements or behaviours we resort to that stop us from feeling the pain of rejection or lack of self-worth that may be buried deep within.
In turn, by exposing and addressing our protections and adjusting our behaviours we develop an openness that offers us the freedom to feel more. With this newly found freedom we begin to feel the beauty of who we are and what we have to offer. We start to reclaim and appreciate everything about ourselves and others, and without compromise offer the full glorious version of who we are to the world.
Relationships are the expression of love in movement: by choosing to evolve and thereby agreeing to uncover our issues, as uncomfortable as this may get, we are given an opportunity to address and overcome everything that has been stifling us. Whilst doing this we learn to become more open and accepting of ourselves and others, as what was holding us back is gone and we are free to feel, accept and love who we are and what others have to offer. We start to feel open and honest, attracting others to us and us to them, in the offering of true relationship.
Relationships are formed when nothing is needed or expected; instead everything is offered openly and freely and in return, that is exactly what is received.