The first time I noticed him I gasped for air. He quite literally took my breath away.
He wasn’t particularly handsome. Average height. Mocha skin and dreads pulled back neatly in a tight ponytail. But he carried a light that made him slightly brighter than the rest of the crowd.
It was in that first minute I knew we had to be together, and we were—for the next six years.
Sadly, it was a tumultuous relationship, but something kept us tethered. Then one day I woke up, rolled over and it was finished. Just like that, my heart let go.
I walked out the door, and he didn’t stop me.
Moments like these—the heart-stopping, breath-taking, world disappearing moments—have happened to me once before, and now after being single for three years, it has happened again. Which is why I have decided to write this article.
The first time I saw my present cosmic connection, her light was shining so bright that I could hardly look at her. Like a moth to a flame, I couldn’t help my actions. Before I knew it I was standing right behind her. I fumbled over my words and said something silly but it worked, and for the next few weeks we were inseparable.
What is it about certain people that makes our hearts skip a beat?
How do certain people make our backgrounds fade away?
Why is it that when we stand next to them we can feel so connected, so protected and so scared all in one moment?
How is it that certain people shine a little brighter than everyone else?
And that said, why is it that only certain people can see that light, as if it is a beacon specially designed for the other person to notice?
After living out my karma of three prior long-term relationships—relationships that started just like this one, ones that had really high highs and, unfortunately, really low lows, relationships that one day just stopped—I can’t help but question: How do I make this one last? What’s the trick to walking in her light for as long as possible? I have spent years analyzing the psychology of my relationships, meditating and dedicating myself to self-improvement, and I think I have figured it out.
These are, in my opinion, the seven steps to maintaining a healthy, happy long-term relationship:
1. Are you in an “A” or an “H” relationship?
There are two types of relationships. The “A” type: Imagine the two people in the relationship are the two sides of the “A” and their relationship is the line in the middle. The two lines must lean on each other to stay upright and the relationship is the thing that is holding them together. If you take away the relationship, then the two people will collapse into each other. These relationships are co-dependent and often headed for disaster.
Then there is an “H” relationship: The two outer lines of the “H” stand on their own, and the middle line (the relationship) connects them. If the relationship is taken away the two outer lines will continue to stand.
So how does one cultivate an “H” relationship? It is very important for both parties involved to have their own lives. Independence is the key. So go out with your girlfriends and allow your partner space to go play in their band or go to the movies with their friends. Of course it is important to have shared interests, but for the sake of your “H” it is more important to have your own.
2. Don’t smother the light!
Remember that bright light that we were attracted to in the beginning? That light, and the way you feel when you are in it, can become addicting. We tend to want more and more of it. This results in clinging and smothering the other person, resulting in extinguishing the light.
It is my opinion that relationships end when this light starts to dim. Unfortunately, it creates a moment of looking at the other person and thinking, “Why did I ever fall for this person in the first place?” We start to not recognize them and lose sight of what we were attracted to in the first place.
What can we do to keep this light shining bright?
Step back. Release your grip. Take pleasure in their successes. Allow them to be who they were when you met them. Give them room to shine; gently nurture the light. Find the balance of allowing them to walk their own path as you walk boldly beside them.
3. Don’t throw people in your voids.
“You can’t love someone completely if you yourself are not complete.” ~ Osho
This statement repeats over and over in my head. I first heard this concept during a dharma talk at the ashram at which I studied in India. My teacher chuckled as he said, “Don’t throw people in your voids. It’s not nice.” This simple phrase struck me and make me think, “Oh my God, what voids am I packing with people rather than fixing myself?”
It gets lonely in India. I was fortunate enough to have someone to communicate with via text. We talked often but one day I got so upset that she hadn’t texted me back. I stepped back and asked myself what void I was filling with her. I realized that her communication made me happy; she made me laugh. Then, I harshly and unexpectedly realized that at that moment I wasn’t really as happy a person as I thought I was, and I was substituting the responsibility of my own happiness with her.
This simple realization woke something up inside me, and I have been purposely overjoyed with life ever since. In my creating my own happiness, that void has scabbed over. My dynamic to that relationship changed immensely for the better.
Ask yourself not, “How do they make me feel?” but rather, “How do I feel when I am with them?” If they are making you “feel” in one way or another then ask yourself, what void they are filling? How can I become complete by filling that void on my own? Acknowledging our faults will make us and our relationships stronger in the long run.
4. Our mirrors.
Many times we pick partners that are a subconscious reflection of ourselves. If we are abusing ourselves, then unfortunately we will pick partners that are slightly more abusive then we are to ourselves. If we are happy and carefree then we will attract that like-minded energy.
It is good to point out that what we get aggravated by in our partners is generally our mirrors reflecting back to us what we must work on in ourselves. Life is a constant process of overcoming challenges. It’s nice to recognize what we should be working on.
5. Is it just karma?
When we first meet someone, there is an unbelievable, uncontrollable, unreasonable pull to that person. It could be for one hour, one week or one year that we feel completely connected to this person. Then one day, in a quick moment, we roll over and look at this person and wonder, how did I end up here? This is not the person I fell in love with. The tether has let go of your heart, and it’s time to leave.
One of my spiritual teachers said that it is this moment when the karma that needed to be filled was filled. It gave me a sense of purpose and solace to think about loving someone so deeply for a week and not feel badly when it ended, because it was our karmic destiny to be together for that time.
Some connections are simply fulfilling karma that needs to play out. We learn from them and keep moving forward
6. Exercise makes you happy.
I know that it’s easy to fall into that comfortable “let’s stay home, order a pizza and watch a movie” state with your partner. But it is so important to get out and exercise. Exercise produces endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.
I personally practice Tantra yoga every morning. It helps me to clear my head to let go of unwanted and unnecessary thoughts. It teaches me to breathe through challenging asanas on the mat so that I can deal with challenging situations off the mat. And it keeps me relaxed throughout the day.
Merging your life with a partner’s can be challenging at times. It is good to know how to face those challenges with a clear head and a warm heart.
7. Best friends.
I know it’s cheesy to say, “I married my best friend,” but it’s true. In a long-term relationship, the lust will fade, and we have to think to ourselves, in 40 years am I still going to want to hang out with this person?
Those partners that have a shared invested interest and who truly enjoy each other’s company will last longer in a relationship.
To all you lovers, light givers, lustful dreamers, charismatic kissers and hopeless romantics, go out there and find that person you deserve. The one that is great for you, in this moment. Be true to your heart. Don’t settle.
They are out there. I promise.
Find the person that is walking confidently down their own path—a path that can easily be brought next to yours. A path that with little compromise and a lot of self-awareness you can both walk, confidently, side by side.
Author: LeLa Becker
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Jem Yoshioka/Flickr