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  • A key reason why relationships are valuable is that they help us to know ourselves better.

  • Being part of a couple can help us to understand who we are.

  • Our partners may see what we no longer can; both what's adorable and what's more perplexing and difficult.

  • They might, for example, remind us that we've told that anecdote three times before or that purple doesn't suit us.

  • They can tell us that we've overreacted to a problem at work or that we've placed our trust in an envious friend.

  • Their responses to us give us a chance to grow slightly less obtuse, haughty and peculiar.

  • But despite the potential of love to function as a route to self-knowledge, in practice, we often walk away from relationships with most of our delusions intact.

  • Some of our problem comes down to pride.

  • We can't find it in our hearts to forgive our lovers for catching sight of material that doesn't accord with what we want to be true of ourselves.

  • We come to love, hoping to be admired.

  • They spot that we aren't always very funny that our novel is patchy that we're prone to self pity that we lose our tempers too fast.

  • Far from using these bits of difficult news as goads for self-improvement, we tend to find it much easier to get insulted to say that a partner is being mean or inconsiderate and to block our ears.

  • We fall back on a noxious but highly popular idea about love that in a good relationship, no one should be trying to change anyone presumably because we're perfect enough already.

  • We're not only bad at receiving feedback.

  • We're also very poor at giving it.

  • We give up after only a few minutes of measured conversation, call them a shithead, slam the door and shout that they're as bad as their mother or father.

  • In order to capitalize on the potential of relationships, we should be stricter on certain basic rules for love.

  • Firstly, we should start by insisting contrary to the romantic script that true love is entirely compatible with attempts to teach people who they are and how they might improve.

  • The only people whom we don't want to change are those we don't care about.

  • Secondly, at the same time, huge attention should be paid to the way we share our insights.

  • We must become the most willing of students and the kindest of teachers. We should only strive to divulge tricky things when we aren't smarting from our contact with them.

  • We need to strike always when the iron is cold.

  • Thirdly, we should soften our verdicts with recourse to words like perhaps and maybe we should say that we feel that they may be missing something.

  • Not that we and our therapist and our mother are certain of their insanity.

  • We should remember that emotional truths can only ever be heard in an atmosphere of intimate safety.

  • Most relationships collapse because, in the end, two people didn't want to know more about themselves because the knowledge was too hard and because the way it was shared was too tough.

  • Given how much pressure, psychological information every relationship throws up,

  • we should share our hard-won insights with unlimited tenderness and strive to hear them.

  • Always with trust, curiosity and courage.

A key reason why relationships are valuable is that they help us to know ourselves better.

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