Romantic love can be tricky.
What can begin as a deep appreciation of someone can so easily become distorted with expectations, emotional drama, and confusion. How can we remain in the purity of our intention to love without it getting all mixed up with our unresolved “stuff?”
It is a big ask…huge in fact! Perhaps we will never officially “arrive” in a place where we can consistently love wholeheartedly and surrender expectations for it to be reciprocated in the way that we want. But we can try to make conscious the patterns that show up in intimate relating, and remain honest and curious along the way.
From much inner research I have come to the conclusion that my deepest intention is to create relationships based on trust, openness and unconditional love rather than need, obligation and expectation.
For most of us, this is a work in progress.
I have moments when I experience how it is to love wholeheartedly and unconditionally, and I also notice another part of me intent on sabotaging this clarity.
Romantic connections have an amazing knack of showing us where we are at, and shining a light on what blocks us from experiencing deep love—rooted in trust rather than fear. Conscious relating calls us to grow up, to own our sh*t, and to co-create a container that can hold the needs of both partners.
To love from a spacious place rather than a wounded place is an incredible gift, both to ourselves and whomever we are relating to.
Fortunately there are some skills and tools to help us dedicate ourselves to the essence of love and to create enriching relationships where both partners feel free.
Here are some questions to ponder on, signposts to help navigate the path of relating without losing sight of the highest truth.
1. Where is this action coming from?
Before you take action in relation to the beloved in question, you can take a moment to reflect on whether unconscious expectations are laced around this message, this request, this offer, this sexual advance. Am I trying to “get” something? Or am I willing to allow the beloved in question full freedom to respond in whatever way is true for them?
I am consistently amazed at how my pure intentions to give and receive love get hijacked by the needy little girl within me. So I keep asking myself this question: where is this action coming from? Is it because I want validation of my worth, or is it a “clean and clear” expression of my love? Can I offer this without expecting anything in return? Am I balanced in my own being-ness as I relate to this person? Am I genuinely seeking communion with no strings attached or are my pain bodies looking for a feed? Am I being honest with myself and the beloved right now?
By getting clear on what is really going on, your exchanges can be true gifts for both of you.
2. Is there something in me that needs to be tended to, by me, before I share my process with my partner?
The moments when I have been emotionally triggered (whether it is with feelings of insecurity, anger or whatever), I have found it useful to take the focus off the person who triggered it and direct it onto myself and the feelings themselves.
When I do this, I find that the feelings are mine, all mine, and they want attention. When I acknowledge and allow them (and hang out with them for a bit without pushing them away), a process of healing occurs and I find myself coming into a place of wholeness again…ready to relate from a much less volatile blame-y space.
What I am continually finding is that the needy part of me needs love, not from my partner, but from myself. The path of learning to love unconditionally begins with the way that we meet the fragmented parts of our own selves.
Take the time to tune in to what you are really feeling, and hold yourself with the kind of care you would hope to receive from your beloved. If you can do this for yourself, then any care you will receive will be a bonus, not a crutch, allowing both of you the freedom to give and receive by choice rather than obligation.
3. Am I projecting my father or mother story on this poor person?
It’s hard to admit, but it is often the case. It is natural for us to repeat very old programs in our relationships. We create all kinds of nonsense in order to re-experience the familiar and the unresolved. Be patient with your own sweet self, and acknowledge the patterns. The more aware you are, the less power these patterns will have over you.
Keep on coming back to your present experience. Choose the fresh and new, and real, and visceral.
It takes loads of awareness, dedication, and willingness to explore and feel these patterns, but conscious relating can heal in a way that nothing else can. Notice the patterns, and try not to get too discouraged by them. Your awareness is growing, and with it your ability to love without projection from the past and expectations of the future.
4. Am I allowing this person full freedom to be themselves?
In tantric workshops, we guide the participants in processes to “set their partners free” after every intimate sharing. This is a profound practice! Often, after a deep and beautiful sharing, I never want to let go. But something wiser in me knows that if I love someone, I have to set them free, over and over again. I have to honor their birthright to fully be themselves and to do whatever feels truly right for them, regardless of my wants and needs.
Sometimes I actually have to remind myself that this being does not belong to me, he/she belongs to life. It is not always easy but as soon as I feel the grace of a love that is free and expansive rather than heavy and loaded, it is immediately worth the effort.
5. What is more important to me, being comfortable or being free?
Conscious relating has us rub up against this question over and over again. One way of dealing with this is to continuously dedicate the relating to the highest truth (a tantric term for this is “consecration”). Creating a strong intention to relate from a place of unconditional love and to learn, without taking it all too seriously, is the key.
The fact is that the whole relationship is a set up, designed for both of you to grow. The issues that arise are not a mistake or a punishment, they are a gift, allowing us to meet and heal another layer of our fragmented selves. The real fruits come when we can let the personal story take us beyond our limited selves and into the vast spacious essence of love in our own beings…and that brings us back to the next all important sign post.
6. Am I willing to come back to trust?
In our desire to give and receive love, it can be so easy to get excited or fearful and forget that everything has its own timing and wisdom. When we come out of our connection with self, we can forget that we do not need to push love around and make it happen. In actual fact, none of us really wants the kind of love based on needs, obligations and expectations.
Love needs space to breathe and grow in its own way. Can we stay connected to that deep sense of trust to allow that? This is both the question and the practice.
When I find myself getting obsessive about my beloved, I kindly ask myself to take a step backward: to rest into myself, nurture my own energy, and come back to the trust that everything is unfolding as it should be. I remind myself that if my beloved and I are supposed to be together, then life will surely conspire to make it so.
7. How can I lovingly support myself as I use relating as a means to explore myself?
Support and compassion—without liberal doses of both, it really can feel like a traumatic, hopeless, painful mess when we bump against our unresolved issues around intimacy.
Hold yourself lovingly, whisper “H’opono’pono” to yourself, and have big belly laughs with your support team about the whole perfectly designed drama playing out. It is a divine play! Be kind and gentle as you explore yourself courageously through the lens of the relating game.
Instead of making ourselves wrong for the patterns that block our love from flowing, we can use these questions to check out what is really going on.
Sooner or later we begin to notice the patterns, to see where we have begun to let our past experiences affect the present situation, and where our wounded selves begin to sabotage the love, which is usually what brought us together in the first place.
If you are already brave enough to bring your conscious awareness to your relationships, then I applaud you! Unconditional love is exactly that—love without conditions. The more familiar we are with what blocks us from feeling and expressing unconditional love, the closer we get to fully embodying and receiving the love that we yearn for.
What an amazing journey this is! Keep going!
Author: Sonja Shradha Devi
Editor: Cat Beekmans