Why Relationships Don’t Work. ~ Kristin Luce

Via Kristin Luce
on Sep 25, 2013
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After a quarter century of personal, scholastic and professional experience with relationships, I have finally discovered why none of them work—neither for me, nor for anyone with whom I have encountered.

To illustrate the point, let me tell you about my most successful relationship to date. It lasted for 36 hours.

We met at a party of mutual friends, and quickly fell into a “Bubble of Wow,” together. It encapsulated us in a solitary and intense kind of intimacy for a while—even in the midst of the fray and party-goers—until we finally found a quieter space.

We then spent most of the next day and a half together. It was one of those, “where have you been all my life” kind of things.

When we parted on an early morning a day and a half later—after lots more “Wow”—I could feel that something was shifting ever-so-slightly in him, and for the next three days he didn’t call or reach out in any way.

I didn’t either.

I sensed that time was needed for whatever had come up between us. When I finally sent a short text (“I’d love to see you”), he texted back simply that he could not—that he was, in his words, “out of his integrity.” I never saw him again.

So after 25 years of intimacy and working with couples why is this 36-hour, seemingly failed connection, the most successful relationship I have ever encountered?

It’s successful because I didn’t feel blame or outrage that he “ditched me.” I just heard him: he was out of his integrity. I don’t want my friends or loved ones to feel out of their integrity.

Hell, if my kid told me she felt out of her integrity and was changing things in her life to rectify it I would applaud her! I might take her out for sushi to celebrate. (her favorite) Why would I want someone whom I care about to compromise himself?

I want to note that this wasn’t just an intellectual understanding and that is why, for me, it was successful.

Had I tried to talk myself into being happy about it (read: suppressed smoldering rage at being rejected), well, it would hardly have been a success story. The beauty and testament of it was that my actual, visceral, uncontrived response at not seeing him again—a man I liked and wanted very much—was joyful.

When I realized that my desire for him to be happy was stronger than my own personal disappointment, I knew that I had turned a corner.

So let’s take a hard look at why relationships never seem to pan out. I mean, really—have you ever seen a functional relationship? There are some that seem to be functional, or possibly even very good, but we never really get to know Breaking_Up_Phototoo much about them. Then later, we discover the seedy underbelly—often when the couple splits—and are disillusioned all over again.

This one had domestic violence in it. That one has been a sexless marriage for the past 10 years. This one had one partner lying and cheating on the other. That one was more of a business arrangement, waiting patiently until the kids were out of the house. The list goes on and on.

Further, the relationships that seem truly mature are ones that we know almost nothing about: Adaya and Mukti, Barak and Michelle, Katie and Stephen, Will and Jada—never-mind the myriad hollywood couples that are constantly appearing as perfect and happy in the media.

Perhaps they are the exceptions, or perhaps they are just a whole lot better at hiding what isn’t perfect about them. The point is that I have never had a direct experience of what most of us would call a deeply mature, intimate relationship that lasts over time, and no one I have ever met has either.

It seems, quite frankly, that relationships don’t work. And as a long-term researcher, impassioned by the mystery of it, I think I have discovered why.

Relationships are based on the fallacy that I exist, you exist, and that my happiness, connection and fulfillment can be met by something from the outside—that there even is an outside.

That might sound esoteric, but stick with me.

When we look at our experience we can’t actually find a “person,” or even a “self.” In any experience we can find what we call color, the sound of a voice, the experience of a touch, etc. Without a belief in a self, other or time—which are all just thoughts and images in the mind and have no substance—all we have is this moment.

No past, no future, no lover, no “relationship,” and that—to spoil the ending—is the only place where intimacy can reside.

The truth is that we are all living in fantasy-land and we build our relationships on that ground. What it means is that as long as you have an ego your relationships will fail.

So at this point you might be thinking, “OK that’s pretty depressing. I guess I have to become a celibate hermit or else resign myself to having painful, non-functional relationships.”

Herein lies the solution: Recognize that relationships are not primarily based on love, they are based on fear. Once we know this, we can work directly with the fear itself instead of on the other person or “the relationship.” We may discover that relating with another is not about our pleasure or comfort at all (although that’s sometimes a by-product), but about discarding every confusion we are still trapped in.

Byron Katie said, “Egos don’t love, they want something.”

When ego is operating—which let’s face it is pretty much 100% of the time—then no matter how good we try to be, how loving, selfless, kind or noble, we in fact want something.

We might simply want their approval, or we might want financial security, someone to stand by us, to be seen in a particular way, their validation, to avoid responsibility, or a long list of other things.

There is nothing wrong or bad about wanting something from someone. In fact, without the thought that we shouldn’t want something in a relationship, we can simply get honest and admit that we do! We might also notice that our partners do too. So, if you think that your partner is manipulating you to get what they want, it’s probably because they are.

They are not bad, just like we are not bad. They are motivated by fear, just as we are.

So how does fear operate? It motivate us to leave love in order to stay “in control.”

It whispers things in our ears like:

“You’ll be alone.”

“You won’t be able to support yourself.”

“You’ll be homeless.”

“You’ll become dependent.”

“They will manipulate you if you show your love too much.”

“They’ll use it against you later.”

“You need their love and affection.”

“You’ll never be happy again.”

What happens when we believe such thoughts is, ironically, that in the name of love we leave it. We begin to manipulate, withhold, and lie to our partners in order to get what we want or avoid losing something.

Here’s an example:

When I didn’t hear from “Wow-Bubble” Guy I could have pretended that I was no longer interested, told him that he was out of integrity by not talking more directly with me (especially now that I’ve discovered that his being in integrity is a sore spot for him), cajoled him into viewing our connection as an important relationship and insinuated that he was just scared.

I could have threatened to withdraw my appreciation of him or even to see him again—or used any of other the tactics that I have in my past relationships to try to get what I want.

That is not love.

That is reaction based on fear—fear of what will happen and/or what his actions mean about me.

OK, so my encounter was just a day and a half, but what happens when our fearful thoughts prey on a longer term relationship, one in which we have far more invested in? What happens when we watch as our blissful intimacies predictably begin to fail?

Most of us withdraw, manipulate, become fearful, jealous, go into denial, blame ourselves, become controlling or lash out. Meanwhile our partner is doing some version of the same thing. Even though we may be “in relationship” over time we are way out at sea, alone and often in pain.

At some point we face the ugly dilemma of whether it would cause us less pain to leave the relationship or to endure it, even while recognizing that neither of those prongs will bring peace because neither gives us the intimacy, connection, or comfort we seek.

So brace yourselves. Here’s what love looks like.

Love is feeling delight when your partner ditches you. Love is when you can’t find a partner and you enjoy how happy others are to have found one themselves—and all that’s beautiful about sleeping alone. Love is leaving someone you know you shouldn’t be with rather than holding them hostage to your fantasy or needs. Love is when you love and appreciate another who apparently doesn’t appreciate you back, or maybe even notice you.

I sometimes attend a drop-in group mostly to bask in the presence of a beautiful man who’s often there and apparently has no interest in me. I get to see him, adore him, hear his brilliance and witness his huge heart. I

Source: via Jenna on Pinterest
Source: via Jenna on Pinterest

sometimes even get to hug and smell him. Pure love, without requirements or agenda.

Here’s the secret and the power of it: If you want a good relationship then have one. Take it, don’t wait for permission. If you want love then be love and you will never be separated from intimacy and connection again.

What does that look like? It means caring for the other as much as yourself, especially when he or she doesn’t do what you want. It means deeply respecting what they want for themselves, which may or may not mean being near you. It means that if they say “don’t call me,” then don’t, and keep your heart wide open. It means if they say, “I need you,” and it’s not right for you, you say “no,” and keep your heart wide open.

So, I know what some of you are thinking: “If I let go of trying to get what I want in relationship then I will never have it.” But why would unilaterally staying open to someone—loving them and setting them totally free from your own expectations and judgments—make a positive, functional or long term relationship any less likely?

I think it would make it a lot more likely actually, and in the meantime how much fun is it to adore everyone like your own, sweet lover, whether they know it or not?

I will leave you with a quote. It will be a blessing to you every time your relationships fail—as they predictably will—while you quietly become love itself:

“You are your only hope, because we’re not changing until you do. Our job is to keep coming at you, as hard as we can, with everything that angers, upsets, or repulses you, until you understand. We love you that much, whether we’re aware of it or not. The whole world is about you.” ~ Byron Katie


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Ed: Dana Gornall


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About Kristin Luce

Kristin Luce is slowly going sane by using her actual life and relationships to wake up. Her quest for truth has led her through a B.A. in Philosophy, an M.A. in Buddhist Psychology, intensive retreat practice, certification as a Meditation Instructor, two life-changing relationships and two life-changing kids. She now provides in-depth coaching for individuals and couples who want profound and dramatic transformation. An avid writer, she has been featured in such publications as Mothering Magazine and The Buddhadharma, and is a regular contributor to elephant journal. Friend her on Facebook, Twitter, her website or contact her at [email protected].


91 Responses to “Why Relationships Don’t Work. ~ Kristin Luce”

  1. KristinSLuce says:

    Or out complaining about articles discussing why relationships don't work. Thank you for your comment, Iona. I posted a response below.

  2. KristinSLuce says:

    So what happens when/if your partner tells you they've been sleeping with someone else? Do you still see them as "having your back?"

    What most people do then is feel the right to be mad, to shame the other, to be a victim, maybe to leave.

    So in fact, even if the relationship seems good, it hangs in a tenuous balance of conditional love, regardless of whether someone "breaks the trust."—meaning, "I love you as long as you do X; I won't love you if you do Y." So, even if no one does "break the trust" we never know if or when it could happen!

    In this article I am talking about unconditional love, the kind that doesn't leave even when your partner does something you don't want. And I don't mean "doesn't leave the marriage," I mean, "doesn't leave love" (for you or for them).

    The kind of trust you are talking about will fail—it has to. No one can unconditionally "have your back" the way that ego wants it—at least UNTIL you realize that they "have your back" 100% even as they have an affair and lie about it (or whatever).

    Meanwhile most of us are getting pissed off about how our partners don't "have our backs" in small ways all the time, or are afraid of when it might crop up again.

    Again, this is about fear, not love. The conventional view of trust as "you won't do what I don't want you to do, and I won't do what you don't want me to do," is based on fear (because God forbid what happens when someone doesn't live up to it).

  3. annabel says:

    This is beautiful. thank you

  4. Lexy says:

    From reading this well written blog on the subject of relationships, I think that, based on your personal experiences, you tend to be biased against them. It is very clear that the relationships that you have had ended on a negative note, but have you considered the fact that you may be going after the same type of relationships? Love can be the most powerful emotion we can have as humans.

    Don't get me wrong, I also had my fair share of relationships that ended badly, and that pain I felt…. painted a dark color on the subject of a while. But even if they don't last, those moments (and even memories) where everything felt right…. I would never take back. I think that a lot of relationships don't work out for a reason. that is because they just were not our soul mate. I have seen relationships last and it is beautiful to see. I think you should have put either "most" or "some" into the title because nothing is more amazing in life then have your significant other give you that look like you are the only person in the world to them.

    It pains me to hear that you have gone through the struggles that so many face in relationships, but try and keep a little optimism in your mind. because relationships hard to find and hard to hang on to, but the journey is always worth it.

  5. Victor says:

    Year and one half ago I would not understood what you are saying until, for the first time, I left a relationship which was unhealthy for me. Six months ago I met my current partner where our relationship would better be illustrated by an open hand palm up rather than closed. We encourage and support each other to follow our dreams without thinking of how our ego is being affected. Our society seems dependent in many ways on people living their lives in a codependent manner while telling people it is unhealthy to do so. Only by releasing any semblance of control and loving unconditionally have I finally found the balance I need to be in a healthy relationship. Thanks.

  6. Christina says:

    To leave a relationship because one is out of integrity with oneself indicates that they do not value the love above themselves. Sacrifice and commitment to the unity are the tools of "conventional" love. When two partners are dedicated to one another and can trust that in one another, then there is integrity of the love. You can have the kind of love you prescribe-that loves the person regardless of what they do for you AND have a traditional relationship. They're not mutually exclusive. It's the trust that sets you free to live in this way. People in positive traditional relationships are probably upset, because to be in a relationship like that, it must be one of your core values. And it's a value that can only successfully be achieved with a partner that also values it. So while your goal is to raise a specific kind of consciousness, they may feel you are encouraging potential subscribers of traditional love to mythologize it, and therefore kill it for future traditional lovers (who then will have greater difficulty in finding those who are willing to love in this mutually self-sacrificial way.) Anyone who has experienced the beauty of traditional love and reaped the rewards of the resulting beautiful FAMILY life cannot help but feel sadness or pity that some choose to apply rugged individualism to love. They are not easy to create or maintain, but happy families and happy couples (the foundation of happy families) exist. Need may be unhealthy when it comes to material objects and pleasures. However we do need one another socially. We need each other to love and support one another into old age, and to build families of emotional and material support. And we need it for more than 36 hours. We do not all live in monasteries and not all of have unlimited resources. This need is not ugly or selfish. This need is universal, and what makes society beautiful, when it understands and appreciates the role we all play in it. We are not islands, and to expect nothing of your partner – the simplest unit of society – will be the ruination of mutually self-sacrificial, committed love in our culture. Lastly, love is about seeking out not only a companion, but a PARTNER.

  7. Christina says:

    When they fail you, then you forgive. Simple, but not easy.

  8. lisab says:

    "Here’s the secret and the power of it: If you want a good relationship then have one. Take it, don’t wait for permission. If you want love then be love and you will never be separated from intimacy and connection again."

    Yes, yes, yes. And it definitely works to make relationships last. Kill ego, be love.

  9. Christina says:

    Wow – you inspired me to do a couple of things.
    1 sponsor this article as very much appreciate the sharing
    2 sort out my attitude to my new and scary but the most loving marriage i could ask for.. 🙂
    3 continue my writing and sharing to hopefully again share the love for the love of it 😉

    Thank you 🙂

  10. KristinSLuce says:

    Thanks, Christina! Love that you it inspires you on all these different levels!

  11. Demetra says:

    Sometimes they do work! I feel like a lot of what you said in this article is true for many people. But once you figure all that out.. It is okay. I too have witnessed many relationships that look great on the outside just completely fall apart, and I might have believed that to be how all relationships are.. Except that I am now in one myself. It exists! It comes from loving the other person unconditionally, just as you say. I know that I love him, and he loves me so much. When we are apart for a couple days I feel as though I am missing something. Not in a bad way, as I felt very whole before I met him.. But he just makes it better. And yes, I'm sure eventually things will happen that may make me question it, but I believe that love is stronger than that. And if he were to leave? I would feel extremely sad, but I would let myself ache and feel it and I would love him anyway, wish him the best, and know that I would be able to move on with my life. That's what love is.

  12. Ron says:

    The absolute trust is a reality that moves beyond the deep emotional moles that would create behaviors such as infidelity. Just like some people have a sticky relationship with alcohol, cigs, food, etc. so too do certain people have a sticky relationship to trust and fidelity. To say "what happens when absolute trust produces infidelity?" seems a bit like saying "what happens when an apple tree creates an orange?"

    I know of 3 couples who have a deep serenity with each other and have been married over 20 years, have great sex, and have each others' backs at all times. It's NOT unheard of. They just found a different reality to live in than one that excludes all the unpredictable relationship insanity most of us encounter.

    When you believe it is possible, maybe you will meet such a couple 🙂

  13. Chris says:

    Thank you so much for your response to this article. I recently lost the woman whom I thought was the love of my life. However, her fears caused her to cheat, manipulate, and use me for room and board. I have read this article many times and I am sorry, I don't agree with it. I was in a relationship where I gave into my fears and thought my partner was too. However, she was doing it in a destructive way. If you really read this article, it almost seems to say that there is no HOPE for a real relationship and that is just sad thinking ahead. I have two daughters and plan to talk with them when its appropriate about how a person should feel in a relationship, among another things. My parents were married almost 40 years and I never met two people more in love with each other. That is the relationship I hope to find someday! Thank you @e2mpower!

  14. Breeze says:

    What alot of people just don't understand, which is the harsh reality, is that if you're an average, run-of-the-mill girl (or boy) next door, why should a man (or woman) who have other (potentially above-average) options in his/her life feel more strongly for you (who can't do much to enflame his/her passions) than some other sensual, confident, outgoing, emotionally intelligent chick/dude that he/she has met? Too many Americans have this sense of entitlement, they expect to have the best relationship, the best mate, the big fantasy that hollywood paints… yet such a small amount actually have the talents, insights, ability, emotional intelligence, confidence, sensuality, and so on to make another human being actually FEEL special and sexy. That guy that used you for 36 hours preyed on you and that sucks but I think the bigger overaching problem with dating in this country is people are keen on what they want (or think they want) without so much ability to STRONGLY impact the emotions of other people.

    Women tend to be more of 'responders' than 'initiators' with men, act coy and aloof and hard to get, etc. If a man is sexy and confident, the woman 'responds' to his dominance; he wears her down. If a man isn't so dominant nor sexy, alot of times women will write him off as boring and not bad-boy enough. Yet what alot of girls who like bad boys (even sometimes they say they don't ) fail to understand is that the sexy bad boy has many options with women. So while you may play a more submissive role, waiting on his initiative so that you can respond (or yield)to his sexiness/dominance, your very nature of being submissive fails to excite, challenge, and stimulate him in ways that other more able women (sometimes international) can. Men have emotions too and enjoy stimulation.

    So the point I am hoping to make is that it's good to have high expectations. But along with those expectations should come ability so that you make other people FEEL good around you and give them a reason to come back for more if they so choose.

  15. Alison says:

    I have read this article a couple times now. And I won’t lie, my initial response was similar to the negative comments posted above. But it is not my place to presume to know more about your experiences and thoughts on the matter. And the more I think about it and the more I contemplate my own successful (in my opinion) relationship, I feel I see more and more what you are getting at, and how letting go of expectations really is key. My husband and I have been together for 13 yrs ( 11 of those married ). And I truly think what has helped our relationship is that we both understand and except that we are only human. We will ( and have ) made “mistakes” that hurt the other, maybe some that have even broken trust. Some that I think would have torn apart other relationships. But to me the glue for us is forgiveness. We do not expect perfection from each other, that is impossible. There have been times of infidelity ( not physical ) within our marriage, not being completely truthful, problems with alcohol but instead of staying angry we talk through it. What lead to it and how can we heal and move past it. I think we at stronger for it. So I guess to me a successful relationship is not one that is perfect ( or has the appearance of perfection ) but one in which two beings grow together. Hope this all makes sense, I am on my phone so it’s difficult to keep my thoughts and writing linear.

  16. Alison says:

    *grow together however painful it may be at times.

  17. In Sta says:

    I would argue that there do exist working relationships. I do have many examples around me, where the couples are together for many years and still act as they just met. It is so lovely to be around them! All those working relationships work because they do love themselves, love each other, love their careers and support each other a lot. The couple have to be out of people who are self-confident, mature and share common values and similar vision for future. People have to figure out that is really important for them, know why and focus on it so would not waste time and energy on stupid noise. Unfortunately, people spend less and less time on true fundamentals. Less and less emotionally mature people. Superficial wants lead to imaginary fairy tails that build non working relationships…

  18. Cherisse says:

    Wow Ms. Luce! I enjoyed this article. Not many people can do this for me, but you just gave me an "aha" moment!
    I like, "If you want love, be love!". I have evolved into having much believe in Buddhist philosophy. It always appealed to me, but couldn't understand why (when I was younger). Now, I come full cirlce. I have an acceptance of a lot of things. Those things I battled and challenged and kept defendng against for years. I am proud to say that I am on the same plane! No coincidence that I searched and this article popped right infront of me. Today is a much better day because of you!

  19. Toni says:

    Well… as someone going through that. My suggestion is to not think so much of the persons face, or name. But their characteristics that you liked. Take those lovely things, and put them in your 'creation box' for the next person who is (without a doubt) coming your way. The universe is responding to all this sifting and sorting you will doing. Step 1 – Ask. Step 2. It is given (universe's job, not yours). Step 3. Allowing (get out of the way). And watch out, because in one years time, you will totally understand how 'that guy'. wasn't the right one at all.
    You are welcome. lol..

  20. danielmirante says:

    Pre-emptive ego defense mechanisms at work? Lowering our threshold of expectations? Does our definition of relationships 'working' depend on having more grounded ideas of what relationships are for? Is it more the problem, than relationships 'not working', that we over-strain them by making them accountable for sorting us out and making us feel great, when this is really up to our own inner work…

  21. Vivienne says:



    Love is feeling delight when your partner ditches you. Love is when you can’t find a partner and you enjoy how happy others are to have found one themselves—and all that’s beautiful about sleeping alone. Love is leaving someone you know you shouldn’t be with rather than holding them hostage to your fantasy or needs. Love is when you love and appreciate another who apparently doesn’t appreciate you back, or maybe even notice you.

    Thank you

  22. Rachelle says:

    You need to explain what you mean by "relationships don't work" don't work in what way? What would be your definition of working. I can't think of anything in life that is "perfect" as defined by humans, but that does not mean relationships are not valuable or possible. Also there are many relationships in which love is involved, not just with romantic partners and those aren't "perfect" either but would you then say something like my relationship with my child doesn't work? What's the alternative you are proposing here? I feel this article is too general and could point people in a negative direction instead of embracing fear and still seeking relationships. One moment it sounds like you're saying romantic relationships don't exist, the next you are giving advice, that doesn't make sense to me if it's impossible.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I do believe this is the best article on relationships I have ever read. I wish everyone could see through your eyes, so that so much pain, jealousy, and heartache could be removed from life. Most people will not be able to truly reach this level, as beautiful as it is.

  24. KristinSLuce says:

    Thank you. It is such a delight to be seen and understood, even as I realize that many people will not get what I am actually saying in the article. So glad you see the love in it!

  25. Sherron Teal says:

    My husband and I will be married 33 years this April. We have been through trauma, major illnesses, lack of sex, etc. But some how we made it through. We are very much in love with each other and very devoted to each other. Marriage is not always easy. But I think the word compromise is the most important word in a marriage union. My husband treats me like a Queen, even though he can barely walk he always holds the door open for me. We always think of each other first. Little things is what cements a union together.

  26. Lula says:

    To me the 'love' you describe is simply the romanticized short term connecting phase of love which begins the lifelong process of building a relationship. And the reason people give up too easily on relationships is because their expectations are too high because we are only meant to go through the initial high of connection in order to get started. We are not meant to live in perfect moments but to make connections and grow through the process of coming to consciousness as a couple. We learn about ourselves through our interactions with others. Unrequited love is a missed connection. Relationships cannot 'succeed' or 'fail' because they are not goals but living organic systems.

    Although I don't understand your point, I enjoyed your article. You made me think about what relationships mean in my life and the lives around me. And your view is very peaceful and makes loneliness seem avoidable.

  27. EileenLeslie says:

    Sorry to disturb the surface of this woman's rather distorted reflection of the world, but my husband and I have been together almost twenty-five years and are actually *happy*. We love each other, care about each other, are attracted to each other, put each other ahead of ourselves a lot of the time, raise our kid well together, make each other laugh, stay debt-free together, do fun things together and yet give each other freedom, we argue constructively toward compromise instead of tearing each other down, the mutual feeling that if we were to somehow fail we would be sad… How can any of this be considered "dysfunctional," I wonder?

    Oh, wait. We're not the best housekeepers. Our house is a bit messy most of the time. What a "seedy underbelly"! LOL!!!

    And believe it or not, we know others like ourselves, people who are psychologically mature and enrich each other emotionally, intellectually and sexually and are attached to the happiness they bring one another. Happy, healthy, deeply attached long-term relationships do exist and what we have is here for anyone willing to choose and/or work toward it.

    Hasn't it ever occurred to this "professional" that she has fallen into the same fallacies as so many before her? Besides simple religious ideology, she's looking at a self-selected sample (people who come to her in need of help) and from that, adopted a worldview that created a filter which obscures anything that doesn't fit in with her ideas from her view. And I'm guessing from this essay is that if confronted with our example in real life, she'd apply the "no true Scotsman" argument.



  28. Jessi says:

    I applaud you for writing what feels true for you. If I might presume to offer my thoughts, I would say that life is a mirror. As Adya has said before, and what I truly believe, life gives you what you really want, but only exactly. Like, if you feel very strongly that you want a relationship to work, then that's what you get: you get "I want this relationship to work". Not an actual working relationship, but the wanting one. From what I read, it sounds like you have a belief that relationships fundamentally can't work. And so you are living your truth.

    My husband and I have a wonderful relationship. Not because we're lucky and we skipped all of the hard stuff and bad stuff, there's been plenty of both. Perhaps the reason that people can't answer the question of how can the relationship work, is because the question reflects kind of a denial of what is. You can never get an iron-clad answer on the thing, it's a matter of faith, a belief that love is bigger than us and out of our control anyway, so it's better to ride the current than to stand in the middle of the river and try to steer it.

  29. EileenLeslie says:

    Well said, Jessi, and I completely agree.

  30. KristinSLuce says:

    I appreciate your openness, even and especially in the light of not understanding my point. I was in a 21-year relationship, and another one that was 2 1/2 years–which is most of my adult life– so being caught up in the connecting phase hasn't been my issue 🙂 I do love what you say here, that relationships cannot "succeed" or "fail" because they are living systems. I totally agree with that. Thank you for your comments!

  31. marie franxe says:

    i would like to thank you for your article . it is well written in a way that even reading it , the ego or the true self understand it . as we can notice with others people s comment who didńt get the point at all , yet . you are not saying that relationships doesn ´t exist but in fact , you re saying that relationships of our actual world doesn ´t work , which mean relationships full of ego and in need of prooves , 365 days / year . as you mention , the ones that work are the ones we don ´t hear about cause they don ´t need proof they exist , cause they re just love , they re not seeking for external proof , they are just love . It´s hard for people to understand you re point of view as yours is very spiritual orientated , and not everyone is yet on that path . In tibetan tantrism , we call it mahamudra , which means ” the eternal , and unstoppable flow of love ” . obviously not easy when our ego is always in need to control . again thank you for your article , very inspiring .

  32. Simon says:

    This is all very true – it seems that in relationships I am always the problem because of the way I think and act etc. I was taught that women value honesty, yet when I’ve been honest they’ve not liked it.

    It is as if men and women speak two different languages, and I can never understand what the women are saying (a bit like the line ‘Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying’ in Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’)

  33. ldogg says:

    While I appreciate this article, and can see where we should all glean certain points from it, I think articles like this are dangerous for people to just accept verbatim without taking it with a "grain of salt". Yes, everyone needs to have a sense of self and needs to love themselves to some degree in order for a relationship to work. But to take it to an extreme isn't healty… the concepts of "I don't need a man" or "I don't need someone to complete me" are flawed byproducts of the women's lib movement. Very few of us are perfect, non-flawed human beings in an emotional an psychological sense. And IMO, it is perfectly acceptable and normal for a human being to look … to some degree … for acceptance and validation from other human beings as part of their journey in life and as part of their basic needs and as part of a working relationship.

    The reason that so many relationships fail (and the reason why the author's 36 hour relationship failed) is because people in today's world have become extremely self-entitled, overly picky, and driven by media images … images that almost always motivate one to be more superficial and looking for short-term gratification … rather than motivate one to seek out what will make a relationship work … and a good partner … in the long-term. Years ago, in our parents' generation, this is what made relationships work and the divorce rate was much much lower.

    Of course we are frequently driven towards those that overwhelm us … with their charisma, with their physical characteristics, etc … we feel the connection and the chemistry right there. But did the author stop at any point in that first 36 hours and ask whether she should be slowing this thing down or not to see what's really there? Most lasting relationships don't start with that kind of intensity. They grow and develop over a little more time.

    My concern … is that reading an article like this … will reinforce the behavior of non-compromise, of insistence that the sizzle and intensity must be there from the very beginning and this just isn't realistic. It will encourage the vulnerable amongst us to continue to seek out the wrong partners with the wrong qualities … instead of looking for qualities that are inherent to partners who are better long-term prospects. And there is nothing wrong with expecting a partner to make "adjustments" .. i.e. to change to some degree … in order to be part of a successful union. It almost HAS to happen in order for two people to be together successfully … for two human beings to "click" and get along. Not to change the core of who they are, but to make adjustments. Anyone who isn't willing to do so isn't for you.

  34. Merifully says:

    I'm a little amazed at the assertion that mature and healthy relationships are so few and far between. Maybe my partner and I have been working so hard that we didn't really understand the horrors other people go through. Maybe we are just lucky. But we went into it knowing it would be hard work. We went into it having started a vocabulary that help us talk to each other. We have learned over time that being together is preferable to being apart. We learned we don't need each other, but rather that we want each other. And we learned it by having spent three of our 17 years married living in different houses and on different continents. We were separated not by a bad patch of relationship but because one of us had an opportunity to explore. And we have done it without violence, without extra marital affairs, and without looking for the moral high ground, but with a good deal of tears. It's not as if our relationship is perfect, what is?, but it is work. Worthy, difficult, heart-wrenching, life affirming, and satisfying work. As a practitioner of Vipassana (our teacher is Goenkaji) we know that we are attached to each other. We will feel pain and suffering when one of us passes, but we also understand the power of annica or change. The suffering is caused by a healthy attachment, and as such, it will bring us to a better understanding of impermanence. It is a worthwhile attachment. Other than that, I am disheartened to read that you believe that our relationship will fail. This is a gift we choose not to accept.

  35. Sm1969 says:

    It might mean that he was starting to feel guilty about cheating on his spouse/girlfriend. But I hope I'm wrong. Nice article overall though…

  36. Mart says:

    Whilst I respect that these are the authors’ views and think it’s helpful to question the prevailing doctrine of romantic love ad the ultimate source of happiness and self-fulfilment, my understanding of the psychological theory of attachment leads me to think that the author has an avoidant or dismissive attachment type. Her emotional reactions to intimacy, separation and relationship are somewhat typical of individuals with this attachment type. Perhaps our experiences shape out views of relationships in not quite the way the author is aware of.

  37. Kabz39 says:

    Thank you #Idogg i thought the same of her write up. Infact, its loneliness and a selfpittying heart i saw speak.

  38. Pearl says:

    Just found this article and found it fascinating. It makes a lot of sense to me.
    I'd love to have Kristin's thoughts on the following question. If you believe in the kind of unconditional love described, how do you react if you're in a relationship with someone and something you do hurts them? For example, say you go away for a couple of days with some friends, you're having a great time and aren't really thinking about your partner at home much, and you don't call him because you don't particularly feel like it & you're having a great time. If he then feels hurt by your behaviour and feels forgotten/unloved etc., is that something that you would like him to tell you? Would you like to know about him feeling that so that you can modify your behaviour and maybe call him so he doesn't feel unloved? Or do you think he should just be bigger-hearted and adopt the kind of unconditional love you describe, enabling you to do exactly what you feel you want to do at the time (ie not call him)? This is a very small example but obviously it could come up over any number of issues. I'm very interested in how it can be made to work. Or are you renouncing the traditional relationship set-up?

  39. KristinSLuce says:

    My answer is easy and immediate: of course I would want to know about his experience and how my behavior impacted him. I may or not change it, or maybe we come up with all kinds of other ways to meet both our needs, but part of the care and intimacy I love is knowing his experience. I don't expect others to love unconditionally, that is my job and only because it is a value to me and makes me happy. Also, loving unconditionally and behaving in a way that makes another happy are two very different things. I love better when I am being deeply true to myself (which includes loving them). Thank you for this question!

  40. Chris Birdsall says:

    This article really hit me where I’m at now. In essence what it’s saying is that relationships can’t make us happy anymore than say having the perfect job. It just serves a purpose and our interpretation of what is happening is either the source of pain, joy, or anything in between. WE create the reality we experience through conscious or unconscious attention.

  41. Kim Roberts says:

    well said Kristin! so glad to see/read you and get a glimpse of what you are up to. keep it up! xox