The Difference Between Being In A Relationship And Being In A Partnership

by Lauren Martin

Relationships are complex. They can be anything from the thing your fifth-grade sister has in between classes with the boy at the next locker over and the intense sexual experience you’re having with the guy you met on Tinder.

These days, everyone’s in a relationship. Your best friend is probably in a “relationship” with a guy who’s in another four.

Anyone can have a relationship. Anyone can own a number, have a few experiences and call it a romance. Anyone can meet someone new, test the waters and introduce someone to his or her parents. Anyone can be dependent on someone.

Not everyone, however, can be part of something completely and utterly dependent of itself. Not everyone can find something more stable than the people inside it. Not everyone can have a partnership.

I like to look at relationships as the building blocks to partnerships. Relationships are those meaningful experiences you have with people that either die out or turn into something greater.

Those beautiful, romantic, futile emotional attachments can either dissipate into thin air, collapse with great intensity or mold into something more important, more evolved and more purposeful.

If Kim Kardashian can have a relationship in 72 days, she clearly never understood what it meant to have a partnership -- and if you're going to get married before your relationship has evolved into a partnership, then obviously, you're doomed.

That’s usually the problem with rushed relationships. People like to think that just because they know someone and love someone that their relationship can last the way a true partnership will.

Partnerships, however, are a different league. They are for couples who have waded their way through all the bullsh*t and landed on something stronger than just a relationship. They are two people trying to make something together -- never just two people who don't know how to be alone.

Relationships are clouded; partnerships are clear cut

The instability of relationships comes from the opaqueness of feelings. Half the time and energy expelled in a relationship revolves around trying to figure out how the other person feels.

Partnerships aren’t about feelings. The feelings have already been established and solidified. Partnerships are about taking those feelings and proving them every day. If relationships are about finding the feelings, partnerships are about proving how very real they are.

Relationships are volatile; partnerships are stable

Relationships always look simple on the outside but are usually twisted and unstable on the inside. Relationships collapse because, like crème brûlée, if you don’t have the patience and experience, there’s just no holding it together.

Partnerships take time, practice and complete trust. They are rarely formed because most people don't want to take the time to get there. Most couples give up on the idea of crème brûlée before they even attempt it.

Ever wonder why there are so many cookies and cupcakes out there?

Relationships are about emotion; partnerships are about emotional integrity

Those chemical feelings you get when you’re with someone are most often confused for love. Those intense yearnings, butterflies and drunk confessions are always reminisced fondly as true romance.

But it’s not a partnership until those feelings turn into uglier ones that you have to admit are as real and true as those ones you like to think of as love.

A partnership is not just about honesty between two people but a new honesty with yourself.

Emotional integrity can only come when you have complete faith in yourself along with the inability to be destroyed by the other person’s thoughts about you.

You are two stable, confident and caring people looking out for one another, but never dependent.

Relationships are about seeking pleasure; partnerships are about seeking purpose

Relationships are all about pleasure. Pleasure in hopes of escaping pain -- pain of loneliness, pain of rejection, pain of inadequacy. Like most choices we make seeking pleasure, the pain in return is always much worse.

Partnerships are no longer about the pleasure. There’s no hunger for sex, attention or affirmation. There are no more extreme highs replaced by crashing lows.

The anxiety, butterflies and nerves that were once used to keep the relationship going are now replaced with a stability that keeps it on track.

Relationships are about right now; partnerships are about what's right for you

Everyone wants to be in a relationship, but not everyone can handle a partnership. Relationships are for the moment, for the fleeting and for those days, months and years you really needed someone.

You can be as unstable and as unclear as the relationship you’re in. You can be in a relationship with someone completely wrong for you, entering in what is known as a “destructive relationship.”

Partnerships can never be destructive, however, because in order to be in a partnership, you've cast all those destructive tendencies in for not just a stronger relationship, but a stronger person.

And that person is always you first.