March 31, 2024

Jewish Matchmaker Journal: How Relationships Help Us Grow

In life's journey, relationships serve as essential catalysts for personal growth and self awareness. Navigating a relationship with another human being offers a unique opportunity for self-discovery and development that is not available to other species. What other animal can self reflect like a human being who is trying to figure out where a relationship went wrong? Every relationship we have is a glimpse into our beliefs, our desires, our strengths, and our weaknesses. In this post, we’ll explore how relationships help us grow and become better versions of ourselves.

Relationships act as mirrors reflecting our true selves. Interacting with another human is like a quirky funhouse mirror - we see ourselves from a different angle. When we're in a relationship, we see ourselves through our partner's eyes. Our partner sees our strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and habits and reacts to them.  Selfish or generous, trusting or jealous, patient or easily irritated, affectionate or withdrawn - our partner sees it all. If we’re paying attention, we realize what a gift this is. To experience our “self” the way others experience us is priceless. We can begin to recognize our patterns of behavior, our triggers, and our responses to different situations. This self-awareness is crucial for personal growth because it enables us to get to know the honest version of ourselves and decide which of our traits to strengthen and which to tone down - which traits are beneficial to the relationship and which are destructive. We improve and grow not only as a partner, but also as a human being.

Relationships teach us empathy and understanding. Not only do we learn who we are through our relationships, we also learn how our behavior directly affects others. We learn to feel ourselves from our partner's perspective. If we are communicating in a healthy and emotionally mature way, we will soon understand the feelings, needs, and desires of our partner through their interaction with us. We will see which of our behaviors cause our partner pain and which cause pleasure. We learn who our partner is as a human being, what they need from the relationship, and how deeply our words and actions affect this person we love. We learn to have empathy and compassion. This empathy extends beyond our romantic relationships and helps us become more compassionate individuals in all areas of our lives. Learning to empathize with our partner's experiences and emotions enhances our emotional intelligence, making us better equipped to navigate the complexities of human relationships.

Relationships help us confront our fears and insecurities. When we're in a relationship, we become vulnerable, opening ourselves up to the possibility of rejection, heartache, and disappointment. It is through this vulnerability that we experience profound growth and transformation. By facing our fears head-on and allowing ourselves to be truly seen and accepted (or rejected) by another person, we learn to let go of our defenses and embrace authenticity. This courage to be vulnerable not only deepens our connection with our partner but also enables us to live more fully and authentically in all areas of life.

Relationships require communication and conflict resolution. In any relationship, disagreements are inevitable. How we handle these conflicts can either strengthen or weaken the bond with our partner. When we're in a relationship, we must learn to communicate effectively by calmly expressing our thoughts and feelings, and listening to and accepting our partner's perspective. The goal should be to arrive at a mutually satisfying resolution where both parties feel heard and validated. Through open and honest communication, we develop a deeper connection and better understanding of one another. Navigating conflict teaches us compromise, negotiation, and forgiveness. These skills are valuable in our romantic relationships, as well as our professional and social relationships.

Relationships encourage personal growth through mutual support and encouragement. When we have someone by our side who believes in us and encourages us to pursue our dreams, we feel empowered to take risks and step out of our comfort zone. Our partner becomes our cheerleader, motivating us to set goals, face challenges, overcome obstacles, and fulfill our potential. We learn that being a good partner means supporting and encouraging our partner’s goals and dreams, in return. One of the most motivating and empowering feelings is knowing that your partner believes in you and supports you through the best and the worst that life dishes out. This mutual support and encouragement creates a positive feedback loop of growth and development that when expressed effectively, can truly set a person free from their own fears and restraints.

Being in a relationship is one of the most effective catalysts for growth. From fostering self-awareness and empathy to honing communication and conflict resolution skills, relationships offer boundless opportunities for personal growth and development. By experiencing ourselves through the eyes of our partner, we can become a better partner and a better human being. Learn to see every interaction is an opportunity for your personal growth and you will soon understand the transformative power of your relationships and the journey to self-awareness that they provide.