My worst romantic relationship ever was with a guy named John Newman. My relationship with John Newman was one of the most powerful, yet toxic relationships that I’ve ever been in. John was tall, dark and handsome …and a cheater and a liar. He was the best liar I’ve ever met. Please understand me that when I say this guy was such a great liar, I mean he should have parlayed his skill for lying into a career! I tell the entire story and all the dirty details in my bestseller, Why I Love Men: The Joys of Dating.
However, looking back on this relationship, I now realize that this relationship provided an opportunity for me to grow spiritually and strengthen my relationship with God. Sometimes the relationships that take YOU away from who you really are as a person are the ones where you HAVE to find yourself again. From the good and bad relationships, we have to learn and grow so that you can attract love into your life. But unfortunately, the sad reality is that some women don’t want to grow; they just want a man, at any cost. As a result, women end up repeating a cycle of unsuccessful relationships. Many of us still think that a relationship’s primary purpose is to fulfill OUR needs and desires. We begin to think of relationships in terms of what we can get from someone. Some of us are waiting for a romantic relationship to end boredom, loneliness, depression or insecurity; which is ultimately going to leave us unfulfilled.
As a result of my horrible relationship with John Newman, I had to devote time and energy to focus on my spiritual growth and development but I learned so much about God, myself and relationships, in general. I’ll share what I learned about relationships:
First, what if I were to tell you that romantic relationships are opportunities to discover your capacity to love, forgive, heal and grow as a person. Since romantic relationships spark the best and worst in us, they provide an opportunity for growth and spiritual development. Romantic relationships allow mutual expression and sharing between two people, which makes it the ultimate tool for self-assessment and personal development.
Second, I think of relationships as our assignments in life. We are assigned people from whom we can learn valuable lessons. That’s why we have to focus on learning and growing from our experience with our romantic partners—not on making them “the one.” When a person leaves our life, it may be because the lesson has been learned; so learn the lesson, use it to help yourself grow, and be optimistic about what life has to offer you next. As the song says…”it’s on to the next!”
God brings people into our life that provide the maximal opportunity for mutual growth (meaning you ultimately met to help you grow in love, character, patience, etc). If you’ve been repeating the same type of experiences with men, it may be that you have yet to learn the lessons that will allow you to grow from those relationships. Ask yourself, “Am I learning from my relationships? If so, what am I learning?” Seriously, think about the man in your life right now and ask yourself, “As a result of the relationship with him, what am I learning about myself? Am I growing as a person?”
Relationships provide several levels of teaching and learning. The first level of teaching comes from what is known as the casual encounter, such as people we meet in an elevator or at the grocery store. At this level, these casual encounters allow us to refine our personalities. Our personal weaknesses that are evident in casual encounters typically appear magnified in more intimate relationships. If we are rude and nasty with the grocery store clerk, we will likely be even more rude and nasty with the individuals we love the most.
The second level of teaching is a more sustained relationship in which two people enter into a more intense teaching and learning experience, and then eventually separate. Some of these relationships will be friendships and others, professional or romantic. If you open yourselves up and try not to make marriage the outcome in these romantic relationships, you will go through experiences that will provide you both with lessons for your personal growth. Many of us experience this type of romantic relationship, but have difficulty with the physical separation that will and should happen. Know that physically the relationship will appear to have ended, but mentally and spiritually the relationships will provide long-lasting change in your life. That’s why it’s important to never abandon the person when you’re leaving the relationship. Don’t treat the ex like a second-class citizen. It’s essential that we honor the eternal nature of relationships. If a person ends the physical aspects of a relationship properly, you then can go into your next relationship with a stronger capacity to love, from a healed, whole place. When a marriage ends, it could be that there are no longer any opportunities for mutual growth. People tend to view these marriages as failures; in reality, if both people learned what they were supposed to learn from each other, than it was a successful relationship!
The third level of teaching is for relationships that last all of our lives, because the other person provides us with unlimited opportunities for learning and growing. These relationships will teach us a lifetime of lessons. Just by the mere fact that these individuals are in our lives forces us to grow and become better individuals. These relationships don’t happen frequently; instead, single women tend to spend too much time and effort trying to create this type of lifelong relationship with every new man they meet. By doing this, we set ourselves up for continual disappointment every time a relationship ends. So, think of your relationships as opportunities to discover your capacity to love, forgive, heal and grow as a person!
JJ Smith (www.JJSmithOnline.com) is a nutritionist and certified weight-management specialist who has been featured on The Montel Williams Show, The Jamie Foxx Show and on the NBC, FOX, CBS and CW networks. Her advice has also been featured in the pages of Glamour, Essence, and Ladies Home Journal. Since reclaiming her health, losing weight, and discovering a “second youth” in her forties, bestselling author JJ Smith has become the voice of inspiration to women who want to lose weight, be healthy, and get their sexy back! JJ may be contacted by email at email@example.com and on Twitter: jjsmithonline and Facebook Page: RealTalkJJRead more