Short Reflections (1): Relationships

I would like to be a bit provocative this time and share an observation that I have made. I am convinced that most people do not fall in love with another person but with being loved by that person. Most relationships are, thus, driven by rather selfish motives, are not really romantic but serve a specific egoistic purpose.

Before you refute my little provocation, let me quickly explain.

If we walk through streets, bars, recreational places, offices, or other spots where we usually spend our societal time, we can’t help but noticing that how we behave, act or speak is mainly driven by the urge to improve or validate ourselves in some way or another. Companies, fitness studios, educational institutions, surgeons, bars, dance clubs and spiritual outlets thrive because of our seeking to impress by our looks, character traits, deeds, associations, wealth or status. What does that tell us? It simply shows that most of us unconsciously think that there is something wrong with us, that we are somehow ‘broken’ and need fixing (“original sin”). Think about it: if we really knew we were totally ok the way we are, we would see no reason to try to improve ourselves or seek external validation.

One of the most powerful validations of our innate ‘ok-ness’ is when somebody ‘loves’ us, because it proves the fact that we are acceptable (at least when performing the particular social role we are being accepted in). As we all know, the ‘falling in love’-feeling that comes along with it, is one of the most ‘juicy’ experiences a human being can have. It provides comfort, reduces fear, unlocks mental blockages, releases energy. Because it is highly addictive, like any drug, it creates a strong bond to the partner. This attachment endures even after the ‘high’ has completely subsided.

To make the long story short: when we say “I love you”, I would posit that what we really mean is “I love how your affection proves to me that I am lovable and how this makes me ‘high'”.

So far so good. Nothing wrong with falling in love, don’t get me wrong! What I would like to point out, though, is that because most of our relationships are egoistic and conditional rather than romantic and unconditional, relationship ‘problems’ necessarily need to arise.

The ‘deal’ in a egoistic relationship is that each partner provides the other partner with a feeling of wholeness by accepting him or her through their affection. By virtue of this ‘deal’ two ‘half circles’ become one ‘whole circle’. Whenever one partner challenges this ‘deal’, e.g. by withdrawing affection (leading to frustration) or spreading affection (leading to jealousy), the wholeness is considered by the other partner to be in jeopardy. Since the ‘deal’ is struck between two separate ego’s with different fears to avert, desires to fulfill and weak spots to defend, constant tension ensues. Usually this tension is unconsciously dealt with by each partner through exertion of subtle games of control and manipulation in an attempt to avoid a break-up of the ‘whole circle’ by the other. When these games become to restrictive to one (or both) of the partners, though, relationship ‘problems’ arise.

As a contrast, let’s consider a relationship between two people who know that they are a manifestation of the divine. They would know that they are perfectly ok and lovable even without receiving any external validation. Their wholeness would not be dependent on another person, some thing or circumstance. Each of them would be a ‘whole circle’ by him- or herself. They would enter the world and any form of relationship as fully independent human beings. They could live and love without the slightest expectation to receive anything back. Their love towards each other would be unconditional. Instead of getting intertwined and all entangled, these two independent ‘whole circles’ would be able to freely express themselves in a sacred dance of true romance.

“Love becomes divine when personality is not emphasized.”
~Upanishads

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11 Comments on “Short Reflections (1): Relationships”

  1. Well said! I’ve often said myself that people aren’t really “in love” with others but in love with being in love. Most times people are in love with the idea of another person or their potential, neglecting to truly get to know that person and electing rather to change that person to fit their mold of what a significant other should be, to complete their half circle. You hit the nail right on the head with this article. Well done!

  2. Thank you for posting this – I hadn’t seen it before I posted my own very similar observations, but it’s cool that we seem to have seen the same truth here. I don’t think people even fall in love with *being* loved. Rather, they fall in love with their idea of being loved or their idea of their beloved. If they (we) actually *knew* what love was, then there would be no grasping, no falling and no illusion of separation.

    I’m curious as to how you arrived at these insights and whether you’ve had the opportunity to experience and practice “real” love in a romantic relationship.

    • Thank you for all your lovely comments.
      Really appreciate it!

      All insights are based on reflections about my own behaviour and ideas prior to my “awakening”. In that sense, this blog is a diary of a transformation in consciousness.

      The post about relationships is a reflection of my first (I am still in my early 30ties) and last sincere long-term relationship. Whatever I wrote is what happened there between the two of us. I realized that as long as we think that we are not sufficient as we are, we are affraid of rejection. Hence, we put guards in front of our gates of love.

      The last paragraph is theoretical, because I haven’t come across a potential partner yet who has accepted herself so completely that she would not try to subtly lay “trips” on me. The more I become whole myself, though, the less urge I feel to seek out for somebody else.

      What about you?

      • Hi there.. so I am just now coming back to your blog after a bit of a hiatus, and just seeing this reply from almost a year ago.. I can’t believe that much time as passed. I’m losing track of what time means, anyway.

        For a while, as you may recall, I chronicled in great detail the ups and downs of my love life on my own blog, trying to integrate spiritual insights. I’ve moved away from that .. felt a bit over-exposed, but when I replied to your post, I was really hopeful that you had actually experienced that last paragraph – because it very much represents the kind of relationship I hope to have one day.

        As for subtly laying “trips”.. I am not sure what you mean by that, but I’m thinking that being human, even if you realize your wholeness, we all fuck up. What I try to embody in my own life, and what I’d hope to have in a partner, is openness, awareness, humility and a willingness to being gently corrected when ego gets in the way. Most of the time, I think spiritually mature people do their own course correction, but partners are also here to help us out with that..

        I’d just add that in the final analysis, I am not sure how I feel about the “two whole people finding each other in their wholeness” ideal of relationships.. part of me does sort of want that .. but at the same time, I think it leaves the impression that people have to be fully realized and completely at one with their Buddha nature to have a successful relationship, and I just don’t think that’s true. And while part of me agrees that relying on others for external validation is not all that healthy, I don’t think that it is completely unhealthy either. There is something natural about validating each other. Even animals do that for each other. Don’t you think?

      • Realized people accept themselves completely and do not adapt. So they could have bad relationships if their partner expected them to behave in a certain way which they would not see the necessity to. That’s what I mean by laying “trips”. One partner is insecure and thus wants the other partner to fit their mental image of a reliable partner.

        When two realized beings couple up, they don’t try to change each other. They leave each other all the room they need to do their own thing. They are first and foremost individuals and then partners. They are not stuck together forever, they dance for as long as there is music between them.

        I have had some experiences like this in the meantime. It hasn’t worked out. Maybe because we were too independent and forgot to put some energy into the relationship. I am learning.

        Seeking external validation just means we are not sure about ourselves yet. There is nothing unhealthy about that per se. It depends on how we lay this trip on ourselves and on others…

  3. “Seeking external validation just means we are not sure about ourselves yet. There is nothing unhealthy about that per se. It depends on how we lay this trip on ourselves and on others…” From a nondual perspective, this is a really interesting question. Because I think a lot of us have this idea that fully realized people “know who they are” and thus do not seek external validation. And yet, we also know that at the absolute level, there is no such thing as internal/external. So I am not sure seeking internal validation is much different from consciously allowing external validation.

    Also, if you think about it, the whole universe is a game in which the Self seeks validation from itSelf. That’s the whole game. So if the Self can do it, why can’t I? 😉

    I say this as a formerly very “independent” person, who was sure she didn’t need or even desire external validation (of course, in my egoically-identified days, I was desperate for validation but didn’t know it). Part of my healing has been allowing myself to be vulnerable (which is still very challenging) and benefit from validation from others even as I rely primarily on validation from myself. To allow both things to happen, I think, is the healthy route of a whole, socially connected human being.

    “Realized people accept themselves completely and do not adapt.”

    Is that true? I don’t know about that. I think it’s true that realized people accept themselves, but adaptation and compromise (within the boundaries of what feels ‘right’ to each party) seems to be a very natural thing to do.

    “So they could have bad relationships if their partner expected them to behave in a certain way which they would not see the necessity to.”

    I definitely think expectations and trying to change other people is unhealthy and comes from ego insecurities. But egoic insecurities are okay for human beings.. even realized human beings.. something I’m just now learning to accept. On the other hand, I think it’s totally natural and healthy for someone to say “Hey, when you do X, I feel Y. I’m going to work on my feelings, but might you also consider doing Z?” If Z is something you feel comfortable with, why not? If it feels like a terrible burden or unnatural, then that’s another thing.

    “That’s what I mean by laying “trips”. One partner is insecure and thus wants the other partner to fit their mental image of a reliable partner.”

    Which I think is a bit different from someone who is aware of their own bullshit. I can work with someone who knows “Hey, I realize that I am feeling insecure and wanting you to validate me. I also know that my egoic fears are not necessary and I’m growing to accept and transcend them. But in the meantime, can you please hold me? Thanks.”

    “When two realized beings couple up, they don’t try to change each other. They leave each other all the room they need to do their own thing. They are first and foremost individuals and then partners. They are not stuck together forever, they dance for as long as there is music between them.”

    That sounds right.

    • For me, adaptation is not compromise. Adaptation is changing one’s behaviour because of the fear of the consequences. It is phony. One pretends to be someone else. A compromise is a mutual “deal”. One does not pretend to be someone else.
      It’s a very fine line. Many “compromises” are really adaptations. So, I couldn’t adapt anymore. But I do make compromises.

      If you knew you were perfect, how could you ever be insecure about yourself? And what would there be to defend? Only doubts need defending, right? If there was nothing to defend, what would happen to the ego? It would vanish. No more seeking validation, no more ego. An individual at peace with himself and the world.

  4. ..would just add that, after meditating on the question you asked, I found myself concluding that accepting my insecurities paradoxically leads to feeling secure about them. So self-acceptance isn’t about the eradication or denial of insecurity, it’s about allowing those insecurities to be as they are, without judgment or resistance. Check out my TL from tonight if you want to see that train of thought.


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