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After decades of being married, I realized only recently that I had based my relationship on completely unrealistic expectations around love.
I believed that love is something that we get from other people, special people with specific qualities, who fall in love with us and make us feel good. I’d been in love before and the only thing I’ve learned from it is that it did not last because it was not with the right person.
Many of us expend much effort on finding that perfect partner, as we focus on the qualities we’d like them to have, so that they can become perfect deliverers of our bliss.
Meanwhile, few of us take time for self-study which would provide a clue as to what could actually make us happy, and in what capacity this other person could help us get there.
We chase love as if it will come from the outside, delivered by the person who fits our long list of requirements. These requirements are a bizarre composite of our unconscious urges, childhood dreams, advertising images, and all sorts of other conditioned demands that become completely irrelevant a few years later—when the reality of daily life sinks in. Many of us then spend years in wonder and self-blame, trying to understand what compelled us to choose that person as our life-long partner in the first place.
What we are all seeking is the euphoria of being in love, that feeling of fearlessness, security, invincibility, and hope. We come to associate these feelings with the person with whom we are in relationship, anointing them responsible for the way we feel.
What many of us do not realize is that when we fall in love, no one actually gives us anything. This intoxicating and blissful feeling we crave is actually our own energy rising as a result of our own internal psycho-emotional process. The other person merely acts as a catalyst of this process, temporarily allowing us access to the inherent sense of fullness and abundance within us, which is actually our natural state: capable, lovable, and worthy.
Since we are so mistakenly tethered to the behavior of the other for our emotional well-being and self-appraisal, we think that when they turn their interest elsewhere that it means that something is now wrong with us and we proceed to wilt from neglect. What causes us to hurt so much when our partner withdraws their attention is simply our misguided suspicion that we are no longer worthy. What we need to understand is that behavior of the other is a reflection of their own internal process, one of continuous change and evolution. Because we take it personally, it returns us to a state of lack and “not-enoughness,” reactivating our own suspicions of unworthiness and inadequacy.
Not only do we expect love to be delivered to us by another, we want it to be delivered in a very specific way, in our preferred love language. We are only really satisfied if love is offered in a particular setting, with a particular word combination, and an accompanying theme song. Any detail that does not fit our conjured teenage-worthy dreams and the whole episode feels disappointing. That causes great frustration and inexplicable longing that never seems to be quenched.
As long as we rely on others for that feeling of love and abundance, it is unsustainable. We become playthings of fate, because human beings are notoriously unpredictable and therefore unreliable: they fall in and out of love, they change, they lie, they age, they die.
We expect “forever” from a promise given years ago, when both of us were completely different people. We associate stability with a signed piece of paper, completely ignoring reality where everything is in a constant state of flux and nothing ever stays the same.
The only way to sustain this feeling of abundant, invigorating energy that we call love is to know how to access it without relying on anyone or anything from outside of ourselves. For that, we need to know who we are well enough to know what actually brings us joy, what sparks our curiosity, and wakes up our passion—and then commit to making space for that in our lives.
From what I observe in my work, very few of us actually know who we are underneath our conditioned responses. Most of us go through life on autopilot, at the whim of our unconscious urges and culturally prescribed expectations. Yet, we expect the other to be the deliverer of that unknown ingredient—the magic—becoming not only upset but outright aggressive when they “fail.”
The actual purpose of relationships is to learn about who we are. It is not to make us happy or feel good. It is to stimulate growth, evolution, change, and to inspire each other to become the best versions of ourselves.
And growth rarely occurs without a degree of discomfort. Growth is possible when we learn to communicate honestly and nonviolently, because we have created safe space in our partnership where we can speak our truth. We feel safe to self-express when we know that our partner will not blame us or hold us responsible for their own emotional reactions to our words. In such relationships, the attraction to the other person is not based on them making us feel good, or fulfilling our needs, or on an ulterior agenda—but on mental synergy, on emotional connection, gratitude, compassion, and inspiration. That is the definition of conscious relationship.
Of course, this goes against everything we have been taught about relationships. We measure success by longevity. We want stability, safety, predictability. For that, we are prepared to stay in relationships that block our personal progress way past their expiration date and readily tolerate toxicity. We become upset and blame for our discomfort when people, on whose stability we rely, change and evolve beyond the version of them we fell in love with many years before. Meanwhile, when people do not change over time, their lives become tragic, as they become stagnant, somnolent, and usually lose their inner fire.
The ultimate challenge in a relationship is to learn to form unions with people who support our development and to release those who handicap our growth.
For that to be possible, we need to learn that everything we need to fulfill our needs exists within us. And instead of holding on to our partners as need fulfillers and parent substitutes, we should strive to be in a partnership of two self-responsible adults who remain together because they want to, not because of fear or need.
Once we get to that level of self-confidence and completeness, our sense of value will no longer fluctuate with the changes in people or circumstances in our lives. No other person can save us, heal our inner child, or make us so happy that they will take away our pain. That is our own job.
We are the gatekeepers to our inner well-being. We own the power to remove obstacles to love, which is our own natural state of being. We are the only owner and key holder of our love supply and freedom.
Self-love is the secret ingredient to sustained sense of fulfillment and the cornerstone of all the other relationships in our lives.
Contact me for a free introductory session to learn to love yourself like you always wanted others to love you.