Conscious Men & Romantic Relationships: It Ain’t Easy Being Easy.

Via on Feb 4, 2014

midnight in paris, love, relationships, Valentine's day

It is resoundingly difficult for a conscious, disciplined man to find a romantic relationship.

Particularly for one who has decided to end old patterns and instill new disciplines into his loving ways.

I’ll admit it—I was once a man bent on being in a romantic relationship. I loved the idea of a partner and often blindly went about the being in a relationship without much conscious effort, rhyme or reason.

They just happened—then they just happened to fail.

If there is one thing the vast majority of us can relate to, it is that relationships ending can be painful events. For those of us who are single, we can also be sure that we have one thing in common: 100 percent of our romantic relationships have failed.

My long-term romantic relationships (the few I had) were indicative of my state of mind, as my relationship experience shifted from the grips of fear and insecurity into the realm of consciousness and knowing.

I can easily look back and understand why those relationships happened and to what benefit they served. Those experiences and the pain associated with having them have also contributed mightily to my current discipline, wisdom and deep understanding of the nature romance plays in my life.

So, I’ve created certain “guidelines” that I feel must be met for romantic relationships to exist in my space.

There are no such thing as vows.

We have all uttered vows in our lives that we’ve broken. I’ve promised “till death do us part” and so on only to be parted before death. We have all promised eternity, fidelity, honor and obedience to our partners. We’ve all uttered the words “I’ll never leave” or “You are the only one for me” at some points in our lives to someone who is no longer with us.

So, why utter the vow in the first place?

In my experience it wasn’t a lie when I uttered it, it just became one as the tide shifted, or the river stopped flowing, or the host of reasons romance dies on the vine. So, I’ve promised myself that I will not utter a single vow in my next romantic relationship save one: “I will not promise you tomorrow, but I will promise you my truth today.”

There are no rules.

Call me picky, but I really want a romantic relationship to be much like my friendships. I don’t create ground rules for my friends to follow. I don’t tell them how to behave even if my friendship with them is determined by their behavior.  We allow each other to be as we are, with friendships growing or ending in the complete liberation of never having to change to be there.

I want my romantic relationships to be just like that. That means finding a partner who is much like me. It makes no sense for me to become involved with a polyamorous woman if I seek monogamy. It makes no sense for me to become involved with a woman who does heroin if I don’t want heroin in my life. It makes no sense for me to get involved with a woman who doesn’t like children.

I don’t want to change someone to be in a relationship with her, just as I don’t want her to change. I should not have to grow my hair because she doesn’t like baldness, or become Catholic because she is one, or to start hunting because she loves to kill animals.

Conscious people know, or at least they should, what is important in their lives. They should never have to change what is important to them to be in a relationship with someone else, and no one should have to change who they are to be in a relationship with conscious people. It’s really simple, it seems, until romance gets involved. Then, the consciousness seems to fly out the window.

Are there some things I would change for my partner? Perhaps. Yet, there shouldn’t be anything I have to change to be with her. Get it?

couple walking outside beachWe both walk as liberated partners.

This is actually easy if we follow the first two guidelines. Since we’ve uttered no vows, and have no rules, we are free to do as we please within the relationship. Almost everyone I’ve suggested this to has called me crazy, but if I’ve found a person who is much like me, who thinks as I think, lives as I live, and desires what I desire, what rules or vows are necessary?

If no rules or vows are necessary, aren’t we both just freely walking our chosen paths together for as long as we wish? Isn’t it possible to walk freely as devoted warriors of love together without feeling enslaved in any way? Isn’t it possible to make love, disagree, cuddle and kiss—not as a rule or requirement—but just because we want to?

Isn’t it possible to be “who our partner wants” without effort, restriction or rules to follow just because who they want just happens to be who we are?

Guess what? In the type of relationship I seek there is no failure even if the relationship ends. Why? Because the relationship was not created to fulfill any promise other than the liberated expression of love. If it ends, we are both still fulfilling that promise. There is no failure.

I can understand why most would not want to adopt my ideas for relationships.

First, it takes a lot of discipline to live this way, particularly if you weren’t raised to.

I’ve had to discover most things on my own, and I live my life now contrary to the way I, and most people I know from my childhood, were raised.

Having grown up in a traditional conservative Catholic family (which, by the way, was completely dysfunctional in its own right), I realized that I couldn’t exist in the mold that I was forced into, and as I suffered through the discovery I had to find a different path. That led me here.

For those of us raised in this way, it takes a lot of discipline and effort to not fall into old, familiar behavior patterns. I’m blessed: I’ve suffered so much at the hands of my own behaviors that I’ve grown adverse to them. Yet, there are times when I can feel familiar emotions cropping up, and when it seems so easy to revert to how I used to be. So, I must remember the lessons learned in order to devote myself completely to the path I’ve created and not the one created for me. I realize that this work is not something most would want to indulge in.

Second, you have to like being alone if you want to adopt these ideas.

There just are not a lot of people out there who walk this way, so your choices are limited. Many you meet still fall in love based on various reasons and then give up who they are to engage in the plunge.

They still believe that loving relationships demand sacrifice, and that we have to die a thousand deaths in the name of love rather than living one life in its glory. Many hate being alone so much that they will engage in relationship after relationship just for the companionship and faux security they feel while in them.

They see the pain of failure as necessary, and they adopt the failure in a pattern of blame and countless tears. They make the choice to suffer.

So, it is hard to find a partner who wants what you want when you want for nothing.

Add to that the fact that even if you find someone who agrees with these principles, she may not live as you live or seek what you seek. The lesson here is that if you don’t love yourself and the company you keep when alone, you will succumb to the pressure of wanting companionship, regardless of whether or not it is truly right for you.

Now, I know that there are a million suppositions and reactions that this article can create.

I’ve discussed many of them already, with many different people who have heard me speak on this subject. Think about it though: what if we all followed the ideas set here in our romantic relationships? What would happen?

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Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photos: elephant journal archives

About Tom Grasso

Tom Grasso is a seeker, pathological meditator, a veteran firefighter and rescue tech, a poet, a blogger (new site), and creative wordsmith. More importantly, he is a father of three (meaning he is also a lecturer, teacher, chef, order taker, taxi driver, coach, mentor and aspirin addict) and has found great joy in sharing his life experience to the benefit of others. Tom is an abuse survivor and a reformed (though unapologetic) bad ass warrior who bares the scars of his adventures and the power of transformation in every word he writes. You can follow Tom on Tumblr , and can find his books on Amazon. You will soon be able to purchase Tom's short stories (and erotica) at www.tomgrasssowriter.com. Don't forget to like his "blog page" at Tom Grasso, Writer on Facebook.  

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86 Responses to “Conscious Men & Romantic Relationships: It Ain’t Easy Being Easy.”

  1. Zingara says:

    Who decided to put an image from a Woody Allen movie at the top of an article written about how difficult it is to be a "Conscious Man"???

  2. iambethanne says:

    Very interesting article. You have made a lot of valid and interesting points. Lately I have been considering the whole idea of promises and vows and what they mean to me personally. My current partner seems to be on the same page as you: what's the point of saying words that may or not hold meaning in the future? I don't know the answer, but ultimately, I agree that actions are more important than words. As I am typing this I realize that my need for certain promises (such as fidelity) are because it seems like a relationship milestone or report card on the level of commitment. It's kind of silly when I think of it because in truth I wouldn't stay in the relationship if I didn't trust my partner or feel we shared similar values. Thank you!

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      You are welcome. I completely understand your point. I think it is important to communicate our "needs" to one another, but not as a condition of how our partners need behave, but as an expression of who WE are. It has been my experience that when we say, "I need you to be faithful" we aren't really telling the entire story. What we are really saying is, "I value monogamy and trust in a relationship." If we can change the dialog a bit, make it more about who we are and less about who our partner need be (and NEVER about what we DON'T want) then we allow them freedom to decide what they value. If we both value the same thing, then we can flourish in the relationship. If we don't, then we can flourish elsewhere.

  3. Tui Anderson Tui A says:

    Nice! I think there are more of us out there than each of us realise… :)

  4. Dennis Lomonaco says:

    WOW! What an amazing and insightful article.

  5. Ben says:

    Loved the article. It’s like you were reading my mind until the last part. Yes to the no rules/vows/changing the other or yourself. Yes to being happy even when you are alone. But I respectively disagree to the idea that we want nothing and nobody chooses to suffer. It’s just a byproduct of an emotion that is not of their higher self. It’s your perception of what suffering would look like for you. But for them it might not even be close to that degree of emotion. Also who are “They”? In your 6th from the last paragraph you go from talking about your personal experiences and jump into a collection of ‘They’? Are they your old beliefs? Or are they a collection of the mass population for which you think everyone fits into? Thanks for writing the article.

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      Hi Ben! I'm glad we agree on those points. :)

      The "they" I reference are from the paragraph before. The "many you meet who still fall in love based on various reasons and then give up who they are to engage in the plunge." People I've known (or know). My old self. :)

      I can agree somewhat about your opinion on suffering, yet my own experience suggests that every bit of emotional suffering man engages in is a choice. We choose to suffer. We also can make choices on what we want. Could I choose to change what I want in a relationship? Of course I could, and it is this very reason a lot of relationships end.

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it. :)

      • denise says:

        Tom thank you for sharing so much for personal experience and for sharing your deep perspective on romantic relationships. The idea that rules or vows are important and that they are going to make a romantic relationship a lifelong success is misleading. A healthy relationship between two people should not be based on a rules. Although most people I know do want a commitment and feel that there is a huge important for placed on loyalty and is that necessarily a bad thing? What about your kids? Do you not make a promise or commitment to be there for them not just today or tomorrow but be there for them in the future? Or what about work? I realize there’s some differences between the commitments that you make to your children and a romantic relationship just something to think about.

        I completly agree with your point about not having to change yourself for a relationship or expecting someone to change for you and meet your expectations. If something is really important to you I suppose that you could always ask someone to change or consider changing but you’ll have to accept that if they decide they don’t want to do that then you have to be happy with that decision.

        You really hit home with your point that you got to love yourself when you’re all alone and that you must be content with being by yourself and comfortable being alone. However, this is not most people. Most people are not comfortable being all alone and feel that having a partner and being in a relationship completes them. This of course only compounds their personal issues that they have chosen not to deal with and push aside.

        Hope I don’t sound too preachy here I do love your way of thinking. Just hope that someday more of us can have an open mind to find true happiness and peace in romantic relationships. It just may take time.

  6. tonya k says:

    i totally get this. I'm all in. Free-will commitment.

  7. Julie says:

    Beautifully articulated…took the words from my heart…thank you . I am affirmed. Best of what you desire! Keep going. You make a difference!

    Nameste

    Julie

  8. Silvia R says:

    Hi Tom!
    I agree with everything you said in the article.
    I am blessed to have been awaken to many truths of life through my relationships that ended.
    One of the biggest truths is that relationships exist to make us conscious and aware.
    There is nothing random in life, we meet the people we meet because of a specific objective life has for us.
    Again, I am blessed to have been given the gift of awareness and consciousness through these relationships.
    But I know that the people I meet are there for a purpose in life, and if there is a relationship ment to be for my future, it will come when the time is right, not a second earlier. And it will help me to open up my consciousness even more.
    And the same goes for you.
    Not to worry about a thing. :-)

  9. Renee Picard Renee says:

    Yes. So much yes. I've been feeling and thinking along these lines for a while now, getting out some elements (namely focussing on each person freely choosing in the present and stepping away from the focus of some sort of symbolic commitment) in a couple of my own articles here. You've just clarified things for me further. Thank you!

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      When we realize that the symbols our parents gave many of us are as impermanent as every "thing" else is, perhaps we will understand their true value? :) Keep on keeping on my friend.

  10. Janie says:

    Hey! That looks like Morro Rock :-)
    I absolutely believe that our relationships are lessons. We learn what we are capable of until we (someday) get it right or, at least, have what we can accept ♡

  11. marcy says:

    Before saying yes to my last and third long term relationship I knew I didn’t really want one. I was happy and felt much more comfortable loving the world, the day, the sky, the song or the moment than having to agree to love someone and change my life. I had routine of work which was meaningful and mindfully done and very demanding. I had reading and yoga and running time and when i wanted i spiced it up and went salsa dancing and loved the experience of mind body connection. Despite promises and agreements that my life wouldn’t change, it did, and then I did, and then it died, for both of us. The end came with a proposal of commitments of the more permanent kind. I look back and see I knew in my heart I could be fulfilled with my own self. Still I see the lessons in it: trust yourself. He asked me at times why I seemed so cold, or how I shut feelings down, but that wasn’t it. It was just the awareness that even without him, without it, I’d still be and be just fine, that there is a whole world to be with, that I wanted for nothing and regretted nothing. It just was.

    Then I figured what you write about

    It will be harder, and it’s ok, because a conventional relationship it’s really not the focus of what I want. I can understand the value of solitude better each day, and why it can be important to spiritual practice.

    Thank you for articulating the same!

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      It's pretty simple. And while I can't say that a relationship is out of the question for me, it has to be one without the traditions, conditions and warrants that have never worked for me. Just two people who love each other and have no reason to swear on a bible that anything else exists beyond that moment…
      :)

  12. Hunter says:

    What happens if children are introduced as a product or goal of the self actualized, moment to moment, commitment free relationship? Do their needs change the equation at all with a like minded partner?

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      Not as I see it. The needs of the children have nothing to do with the relationship between mom and dad. The children's needs are a different relationship that serves a much different purpose, as I see it anyway.

  13. Marija says:

    I very much agree with the author – however, this model is not very compatible with having children

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      I have children…and it hasn't gotten in the way of their development or their progress as human beings. In fact, I think it has ENHANCED their progress as human beings.

      Which tradition teaches us otherwise?

    • Sky says:

      My parents amicably divorced after 20+ years of partnership when I was around 12 or 13 (I also had three older siblings, though only one of them out of the nest). Ending their commitment of marriage was made pretty much as this article suggests ending any relationship; they shook hands, thanked each other for the growth, and separated (obviously it was painful and sad and scary for them, but all in all, that's what it boiled down to). I lived with my father until I went to college, and he lived his life with children AND had a fulfilling love life. Sure, kids make things more complicated, but I don't think it's impossible to live with this model and children. My brothers and I are healthy, well-adjusted people with two loving parents.

  14. Jess says:

    Yoooo Raaay! Great mind think alike! Finally someone speak my mind!

  15. Victor Reyes says:

    This article resonates because of the discussion my partner and I had concerning this notion of relationships. A more accurate description of what we have is a partnership.

    Having been through too many traditional relationships, that notion is no longer appealing or workable with where we are in our lives. Freedom, like many terms, is defined through the lenses of the person who is talking about the issue. The idea of allowing someone just to be who they are, accept who they are as they accept you for where you on your life, and deciding to share a path as you both grow, does not need to be defined, it just is. So long as each of you share common values, interest and don’t stagnate, you will walk side by side. It seems in our societal idea of relationships, either want to control an individual for own selfish purposes be that to dominate or not to be hurt. By accepting another individuals freedom, them accepting yours, you share the same space because you want to be. There are no artificial restrictions or rules, your togetherness just is.

    Past demons are constantly creeping up. The difference is you recognize them for what they are instead of just acting upon the emotions that they bring.

    I have never before felt the love, support and closeness that I feel with my Partner. Nor have I ever felt the freedom to be the fullest expression of myself as a human being.

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      Awareness seems to be the key. Self-awareness of both individuals within the relationship. That doesn't always entail smiles and giddiness, it entails addressing real thoughts and behaviors. :)

  16. terri says:

    Yes, yes and yes! My partner and I have had exactly this type of relationship for the last 22 years and it is a thing of beauty and wonder. We're still physically attracted to each other, we still prefer each other's company to all others, and the love continues to grow – due to the consciousness and free will that are the foundation of our relationship. Whenever there have been personal bumps in the road (one of us becomes unhappy or experiences personal challenges) we have always give the other complete understanding and encouragement to go elsewhere if that's what is really needed. That space and freedom has always ultimately brought us closer together. And you are so right about finding someone who you don't have the desire to change. I remember thinking early on that here was a man who I could live with, exactly as he was, with no need to change him. As a result, we've never had the need to fight – when something comes up that we disagree about, we're each interested in understanding the other's point of view, we become curious about it, and simply agree to disagree if that's what it comes down to, no need to convince or change the other. May you find a partner as clear-eyed as yourself…

  17. jackie says:

    Boy do I hope I can get to the point you are at. Great article!

  18. Bernie says:

    Tom, great article! A friend sent this link to me because I have been saying basically the same thing for quite a long time. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one. _/_ :-)

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      Amazing isn't it? I expected to get blasted by this, but instead have found kindred souls who share the same idea. AWESOME! :)

      • Bernie says:

        The most difficult aspect that I can't seem to totally embrace at this point is knowing that I will likely be alone the rest of my life. And that's really okay, I have come to enjoy my 'aloneness' but there are definitely times when I do wish I had someone to share life with.

      • Bernie says:

        Tom, one other thing that I wanted to share, and you may know about this already, but there is a book, and an audiobook version, called the Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz that really impacted my perspective of what a relationship should be. If you haven't read it, I think you would enjoy it.

  19. Deanna says:

    I just want to simply say ‘thank you’. I think you have an excellent and stable view of the potential for beautiful relationships. This article really got me thinking.

  20. Estefania says:

    I understand this completely, and am learning to let go of the “old” me and “old” ways, but my thoughts go back to this, without certain rules or vows how do you even know your in a relationship? What is a free will commitment? Thank you for your thoughts :)

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      If you need vows and rules, do you even have a relationship? I'd suggest you have to know you are in one if you have found the right partner.

      There is no reason why you can't communicate YOUR feelings to someone who is strong enough to stay their own course. You'll know from there…

  21. Santiago says:

    Thank you! I loved it! I'm in the same process and I would like to suggest something: Why do you think it's hard? By declaring this you are ordering your mind to feel and live it the hard way. Why not just connect with the easiness of the process? As you said, suffering is a choice, so is hardness. It's easy. Just as easy as a child wishing on a star or speaking to the moon. Believe that you can easily find the perfect love and be patient. The universe always listens…

  22. laura says:

    My partner is my best friend. We were attracted to each other because we shared the same interests, and had similar ideals and goals in life. We still do after 29 years. Our relationship has not always been smooth and easy, but the rough patches were lessons to be learned. When we disagree, we agree to disagree and go on focusing on our common ground, not on our disagreements. Rather than a burden to bear, our commitment to each other and to our children has been a stabilizing force that has allowed for growth. Maybe we just got lucky in finding each other and having it last for so long. Or maybe we both realize that as much as we each value our individuality and alone time, we value our friendship even more, and are willing to do the work that's needed to keep it alive. The whole is stronger than the sum of its parts.

  23. @lizaliu414 says:

    Oh my gosh! THIS! ALL of this! I couldn't have said it better myself! I didn't think anyone else thought this way and if they did, living this way is still a process, speaking from experience. The lovely thing is: relating = mirrors so, every moment is a practice in awareness and learning! Glad to know I'm not alone! Cheers to your journey!

  24. Liz says:

    Thank you, Tom.

    This really speaks to me. Last night my relationship of almost 2 years ended because we kept trying to fit each other into being the ideal partner. It doesn't help anyone, and it's so painful when it ends. Maybe I need a new way of going about things.

  25. kmzam says:

    Great article – and I agree. I think the take away for me is what I've been striving for for years, both in romantic and non-romantic relationships – let go and just be. It's gonna go where it's gonna go. Can't be forced, it either will be or it won't. Approach all relationships with an open mind and an open heart, and allow the other person to be who they are, and more importantly I think, allow yourself to be who you are (the latter being the harder for most people). Detachment, letting go, and just allowing things to unfold naturally – sounds so easy. But it ain't. :-)

    Great article, thank you.

  26. Rob k says:

    Interesting article that describes the ultimate point for some men AND the beginning or entry point of many other men finding ‘consciousness’ and relating to another, but is dangerous to the new seeker and lacking in fullness. Your path may be right for you at this moment in time, and may not be for everybody at all times, even yourself in time. This writing of yours can be very dangerous to those who are hurt, scared, and lack confidence. A blaring incongruence in your article about ‘consciousness,’ is ‘unconscious’ beliefs that are pure story and ego protection. primarily that for one to walk your path, they must like being alone. People have no need to like being alone any more than they like being with someone. All that is needed is to choose to be alone rather than compromise their core terms. Liking it is a trap. It’s a preference and aversion cycle of suffering. In fact, it would be better for someone to not like being alone, and still choosing it. To confront the pain and fear of aloneness is what will crack the ego, remove neediness from the man and ready a man to make whatever commitment he chooses and is ready for. Let’s not stop there…consciousness is infinite, grows, evolves… Lets set this in context. Your writing presents a possibility outside the American cinema scope of love, relationship and marriage. Over 50% of ‘forever commitments’ are failing. Why? Is it an issue with the commitment or an issue w the person making it? The first step in being a ‘conscious man,’ is being aware and honest about what you can offer a woman. If you are honorable or ‘conscious,’ and you know that you are not ready or willing or interested to make a forever commitment, great. Your article is great for this particular man who chooses this life style. And! This is just one choice. There are other ‘conscious,’ men that have, done the work, become qualified to be a solid rock for a partner or family w kids. When two people who are doing the work you suggest and they meet on a level field, both self sufficient, no neediness, are tired of short term relationships want to start a family and get that commitment really is to grow within yourself forever, then these people with a conscious choice, can find exactly what they are ‘not’ looking for, but creating in today.

    I propose that your path is right for some people and absolutely wrong for others. I also propose that your path provides for a secret back door for those not willing to dig the deep well. Which may be the right path for some, but has robbed many a family.

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      Rob, I don't see any danger in sharing a concept, experience or value. I think we often tend to over-complicate the spiritual process, and create this dramatic danger for those who aren't as experienced in it.

      Regardless, these words are a concept built on my own experience. There are no requirements to follow any of them.

  27. Jenny says:

    I had almost the exact thought process the other day when I got to thinking about why I don't date, and why I really don't enjoy it. I have worked so hard to maintain balance in my life, and much of that balance will inevitably be jeopardized by the inclusion of an intimate romantic relationship. Re-adjusting and adapting on a daily basis is hard enough without having to explain your process and reassure another human being through it all.

    Thanks for writing this.

  28. foundform says:

    "So, it is hard to find a partner who wants what you want when you want for nothing."

    this part tripped me up. started loving a woman and fell right into her programs, having dismantled my own for the most part. I didn't have a 'i want this and this in a relationship' all I had was appreciation and love and an open mind. Her programs came up and rather than holding strong to the 'I don't seek anything' vibe, I sympathized with the things she wanted. For one thing I know I 'want' is everyone to be happy. Fell right into pattern, with no urge to break out for that is even a want that evades me. trippy. razors edge i tell ya.

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      The hardest part sometimes is giving up ownership of other people's emotions. Once you do that, you open up that enormous door of potential. Others get to live their way, you get to live your way. It all works. :)

  29. sandrine says:

    thank you tom! now who will create a dating site for conscious people? :D

  30. Carla says:

    Loved this! Thank you. I felt like I could’ve written it myself…from a woman’s perspective. Male or Female, it’s equally challenging to find a conscious partner who is willing to be present, take responsibility and not let the relationship be driven by fearful patterns. But, I have total faith it’s possible and worth the wait. In the meantime, cheers to a full life experience!

  31. Krishnabrodhi says:

    Tom Grasso… you are not alone. It is very wonderful to come others that see relating in such similar ways. :)

  32. Sky says:

    PREACH, BROTHER! Over the past year and a half I've been trying to figure out what a healthy relationship looks like, if it's possible, and if there are, in fact, any other people interested in engaging in what my vision entails (if not, I've got the "happy alone" part down pretty pat), but I've never seen my baby ideas worded so beautifully. I tried to throw money at you, but the tool wasn't accepting my card for some reason. Just… This. So much this.

    One tiny bone to pick…. It IS easy being easy (at least for me), but for some reason the OTHER people in my life get confused by my lack of frantic attachment, even while I'm being emotionally or physically intimate.

  33. Ash says:

    Yes, these words are music to my ears…blessed on path <3 thank U for writing

  34. yogaspace1 says:

    Hi Tom, your article is my marriage put into words. I'm not saying it's perfect; my husband and I do have our up and down moments, but we do the best we can. In my personal view, being in a relationship and staying in it is indeed a choice – vows or no vows. (I made mine and happily so.) And exulting each others' individuality is the best part I learned from my husband. We allow each other space to be and grow as individuals and enjoy each other as a unit as well. It's true, I had to learn to be alone and love my alone-ness before I ended up here. So far, so good.

  35. Robert says:

    Love! Love! Love!

    Thank you for sharing.

    Being married for almost 14 years and together 20, has come with lots of up and downs. Two things that have helped us on our journey are communication/friendship and the desire for each other’s happiness. That doesn’t me the ego doesn’t get in the way at times but we are getting much better at identifying it as such.

    We both continue to learn from each other and grow as individuals. This is key. As is respect and honesty. With it, anything is possible.

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      Amen! "Respect and honesty." Perfect way to describe the basis for any human relationship.It always helps when both partners are walking the same path, in similar ways, and are open to the individual expressions found in the "one" relationship. You seem to be a wonderful example of what can work!

  36. Daniel says:

    Thank you for this wonderful piece of self expression. I would like to point out that one of your initial statements, "if you are single then all of your previous relationships have failed" falls away and becomes meaningless when you embrace your thesis of freedom and releasing expectations.

  37. rlcarterrn says:

    Don't despair. There are others out there who think like you. My husband & I have a relationship that sounds very much like what you describe. It is just what has always made sense & come naturally to us. Great article.

  38. Ericka says:

    Thank you SO much for this article. I felt that you wrote the exact words of how I want to grow live and be in my next relationships.you.
    Thank

  39. Andrew says:

    Thank you so much, it's great to know that I am not alone. I have been with my soul mate since May 2013 who follows these same principles, some would say it's very rare but we found each other through the law of attraction. We declared at the beginning that there were no rules just some mere 'guidelines', liberating us to both flow consciously in the relationship, yet still walk separate paths. And you know what? The journey together just gets better and better! :D

  40. Awesome ideas — in theory.

    In practice, making it happen requires a slew of skills and experience (to find that compatible person, to handle the emotions and issues as they show up) that without it will cause most relationships to fail.

    It's like doing trapeze without a net or climbing without a rope: if you're good at it, it looks effortless to the common of mortals. But if you're not, you'll fall to your death. Generally relationships have all the aspects that feel restrictive in order to help it from falling apart at the hands of those unskilled enough to have decided to be together.

    Just my 2 cents :)

    • Tom Grasso tomgrasso says:

      Phillippe…such ominous ways of looking at the Art of Love. I don't see it as anywhere near as threatening as risking life and limb. Perhaps it is that perspective that makes many of us fear so "restrictive" in the first place? Maybe if we saw entering into a relationship as a "safe" thing, a place of security and liberation, we wouldn't be burdened with the shackles of fear given to us when we view it as doing stunts without a net.

      Want to change your world? Change how you see it! This cliche works in nearly every instance. :)

    • Kristin says:

      This article- incredible. Ive always believed in this way of thinking even in my first relationships. I would still be heartbroken, love is strong like that, but i learned from each one. This all hit home for me, my partner and i started out as (hold your breath) a monogomous long distance relationship. After only one month of dating. Because i loved him and thats what he wanted ( its the only thing he knew-monogomy[aka didnt want me to be with other people]) He was young and hadnt had a serious one like me before.

      This is why im replying to phillip, i completely understand what you are saying. After a hard year and a half, we are changing our relationship from the traditional to free-willed. I had 5 yrs worth of long term relationship experience under my belt, and he did not. I love him and saw his intelligence through the beginning, and it is hard, like doing tricks with no safeguard, when a lot of patience and care and effort is being put forth for that true love, it can really hurt when it all seems to have been for granted. But alas, id like to report that things are going very well, and we have taken back our commitments from each other. The one thing i hope for him is that he can let go of responsibilities of my emotions, as you said in response to someone else, Tom, that can be a difficult time. As i read the article, it only reinforced the decisions I’ve made with him, I cried through half of it because its been so incredibly difficult to know what the right thing to do is.

      THANK YOU!!!!

  41. cassandralanesmith says:

    I really enjoyed this, thank you.

  42. I could not agree more. Well said. This is exactly how my relationship is with my husband. When we got married 3 years ago, I thought long and hard about what I actually wanted to 'promise' when I said my vows. I came up with two things. 1. I can promise to be myself and bring 100% of myself to the relationship, and 2. I can promise to accept him for exactly who he authentically is. Period. My 'vows' actually started with…. "I don't promise to love you forever….". — and it's true because that is something no one can promise. It's ridiculous. I can only promise to love NOW, be myself, allow you to be you – and see what happens next.

  43. Angie says:

    I live this marriage, at our wedding day, we 'vowed' friendship, detaching from outcomes and allowing separation if we were to hold each other back. we often check in to see if the love has expired and we admit that while we would be heart broken if ever separated, we would live on, be okay in the long run. We love each other enough to allow individual freedom and our unity is sacred in the here and now. Many people sent me this article and it was so nice to read this, very validating. P.S. those of you lovebirds who enjoy this way of romance and looking to have a union, look up buddhist wedding vows. We wordsmithed from here to find a union that was suitable for us.

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