“What you seek is seeking you.” ~ Rumi
Recently, I’ve become fascinated with the immense power of purpose.
My contemplation has led me to believe that it is an understudied and underutilized resource.
For instance, I found out that instead of motivating ourselves through stress, we can energize ourselves through purpose. In the latter case, we become so connected to why we are doing something that it provides fuel for taking action. This is both more fulfilling and more sustainable than stress-based motivation.
In short, purpose is pretty amazing.
However, its power extends beyond our actions. Our purpose can also supercharge our relationships—if we pick the right people to spend our lives with.
So, who would make a great romantic partner (or friend) for us?
That largely depends on what we care the most about: is it purpose and making a difference? Is it success and accomplishment? Belief and adherence to traditional roles? Or power and personal loyalty?
Our answer to that question reveals out value system. If we are looking for a deeply fulfilling relationship, it’s ideal to choose someone who holds similar values. That means that a purpose-driven individual is attracted to different people than a person who is primarily motivated by other things, such as achievement, tradition, or power.
Depending on our values, an aligned purpose can be a tremendous relationship magnet.
It’s easy to overlook this because we know few famous purpose-driven people well enough to know about their private life and relationship choices.
In the absence of this, I find it useful to point to fictional characters to show that purpose can be an immense attractor in relationships.
In fact, I realized that purpose dramatically impacts relationships thanks to the BBC. Or, more precisely, thanks to two BBC shows—“Sherlock” and “Merlin” (the latter of which I have previously written about here). Each depicts a friendship between men whose names we know all too well: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, and Merlin and King Arthur.
Many viewers have noted that there is sexual tension in both of these relationships, and the shows have been cited as examples of queerbaiting.
While I think this issue deserves deeper exploration and that there’s a lot of subtext in “Sherlock” and “Merlin,” I would like to highlight another aspect that rarely gets discussed: the role of purpose in creating and maintaining relationships.
The deepest bonds in both shows are arguably between the two main male characters—even though Sherlock lacks basic social skills, and Arthur comes across as arrogant and spoiled. Undeterred, John becomes Sherlock’s biggest supporter (which just so happens to include putting up with life-threatening situations). The same is true for Merlin and Arthur.
Is a romantic and/or sexual attraction by itself really a good enough reason to risk your life while following someone around who appears to be standoffish and arrogant? I don’t think so.
While Sherlock and Arthur have many redeeming qualities, I think it’s plausible that purpose helps John and Merlin to uncover these positive traits:
Sherlock considers himself to be married to his work. John readily joins him on his cases and starts a popular blog to document their adventures. In other words, John and Sherlock quickly have a joint purpose—solving cases together.
Merlin and Arthur’s lives are even more purpose-driven: whereas the latter has been groomed to take over Camelot’s throne since birth, Merlin fully devotes himself to protecting Arthur—after finding out about their foretold destiny from a dragon.
I think it’s entirely possible that this alignment of purposes drives both John and Merlin to support someone who (at first glance) appears to be a “jerk” for long enough to discover the person’s positive attributes.
What can we learn from this for our own lives?
I would suggest the following takeaways:
- Find out if you are a purpose-driven individual (hint: if you have read so far, you probably are).
- If you’re single and would like to find a partner, consider looking for a partner who is also purpose-driven. While an aligned purpose is a powerful relationship magnet, it’s not necessary to have the same purpose. For instance, if you deeply care about human rights while your partner is most concerned about environmental issues, you could well be a good match (just remember to also surround yourself with others who share your specific purpose).
- If you would like to find new friends, the same principles apply.
In the absence of a destiny-revealing dragon, we get to find our passion and purpose ourselves. You can learn more about how to do that in my article here and my guide here.
In the process of discovering and living our purpose, it’s helpful to remember that it not only has an impact on what we feel called to do, but also on who we might want to be with while we give our gifts to the world.
And few things feel as amazing as working together with others toward something bigger that you can’t do by yourself!
Author: Bere Blissenbach
Image: “Sherlock” still
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
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