- Amy Ahlers
- February 22, 2014
The very day we dropped off Rocky Blue at the rescue group’sfair, he was adopted by a young woman who fell in love with him. YES! That means that he never had one night without a home. And I know in my…
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It’s like the riddle of the Sphinx… why are there so many great unmarried women, and no great unmarried men?
Sarah Jessica Parker
Women now have choices. They can be married, not married, have a job, not have a job, be married with children, unmarried with children. Men have the same choice we’ve always had: work, or prison.
Unfenced by law, the unmarried lover can quit a bad relationship at any time. But you – the legally married person who wants to escape doomed love – may soon discover that a significant portion of your marriage contract belongs to the State, and that it sometimes takes a very long while for the State to grant you your leave.
Here’s the thing: the unit of reverence in Europe is the family, which is why a child born today of unmarried parents in Sweden has a better chance of growing up in a house with both of his parents than a child born to a married couple in America. Here we revere the couple, there they revere the family.
I think it’s unfortunate that there exists only one path in America to complete social legitimacy, and that is marriage. I think, for instance, that it would be far easier for Americans to elect a black president or a female president than an unmarried president.
Religion looms as large as an elephant in the United States, to the point that being nonreligious is about the biggest handicap a politician running for office can have, bigger than being gay, unmarried, thrice married, or black.
Frans de Waal
Unmarried couples should get married – that’s an excellent tax avoidance measure, if a bit drastic.
“Love does not obey our expectations; it obeys our intentions.” ~Lloyd Strom
Recently, I did something radical; I entered into a relationship with the intention of extending love. I consciously set the goal of peace.
It’s with the intention to experience more peace than ever before that the relationship began, and it’s with that same intention that we decided to end the relationship. In between it all, I felt deeply connected, heard, and loved.
What did I do differently this time that allowed me to experience a new level of peace and love? What about this relationship created the space for us to peacefully “break-up”?
Unlike other relationships I had that seemed to pull me deeper into fear, this relationship accomplished the complete opposite—helped to release me from it.
Whatever I did differently with this one, I wanted to bottle it up! As I took some time to reflect, I realized that what I did differently comes in the form of three simple miracle-minded questions that I asked myself before I even entered the relationship.
The three questions below helped me step away from fearful relationships based on getting and filling my perceived voids and instead, helped me step into a loved-based relationship built on extending the love and completeness I found within myself first.
And what a difference this shift made in my experience!
The next time you find yourself getting ready to join with someone in a relationship (or even a friendship) ask yourself these questions first:
1. What is it for?
In the past, I would just jump into relationships without any real intention set at the beginning. I wanted the attention and for someone to prove I was loveable. I wanted to get more than I wanted to extend. I was motivated by ego fears and desires to fill my perceived voids.
The way we move beyond these ego fears is by stopping and asking ourselves, what is this relationship for?
Without a clear goal set at the beginning, it’s easy to get lost and stuck in a fearful place. So with my last relationship, we decided that our goal would be peace, and that we wanted to help each other remember the truth about ourselves, instead of getting lost in the illusions about ourselves. What is this relationship for? To extend peace.
And this makes all the difference. When you do find yourself in a disagreement, you can remember that your goal is peace and then act accordingly.
The value of setting a goal in advance is that it will pull you through the tough times. Without the goal, it’s easy to get caught up in the ego’s drive to be right or justified. Having a common goal in mind allows you to move forward together instead of working against each other. In my last relationship I found that a shared goal connected us and gave us something to focus on.
2. What limiting beliefs are blocking me from authentically connecting?
A lot of times when we don’t experience something we say we want, it’s because we have some underling fear associated with getting it.
For example, if you say you want to experience a deeply loving relationship and it hasn’t shown up yet, it might be because deep down you’re scared of it. I know for me, I said I wanted to have a loving relationship, but when I got honest with myself, I realized I was actually scared of falling in love.
Somewhere along the line I decided that being in love would make me weak and vulnerable. When I went even deeper, I noticed that I had the belief that I wasn’t good enough yet to be loved. I didn’t think I was skinny enough, successful enough, or funny enough, and deep down I was scared that other people might find that out, too.
So what do you do when you realize you’re scared of what you want? What do you do with the belief that you’re not good enough? You simply become willing to move beyond the fears. Often times the awareness of our fearful patterns is enough for them to be released.
Sometimes I will even say to myself “I hear you fear, but I’m not going to let you determine my actions right now.” Instant personal power.
This opens the way for you to step beyond the limiting beliefs you carry about yourself. The truth is, you’re good enough right now in this very moment. There is nothing to prove. Become curious about your beliefs and behaviors. Invite them in, question them, and watch as they melt away.
3. Am I focusing on the content or the frame?
Fear-based relationships often start with a strong attraction to a body. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely been sucked into relationships because the frame was lookin’ good. I paid no attention to the content, aka the mind.
But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you’re always getting in a relationship with a mind. If the content is not engaging and exciting, circle back to the first question: what is this for?
When we put all our focus on the content and not the frame, we simultaneously release our expectations and allow ourselves to experience peace and love in ways that we might not have thought possible. The frame will shift and change, but lasting fulfilling connection starts and ends with the content, not the labels and clothes we place around it.
Ultimately, within others you can either lose yourself or remember yourself, because from a spiritual perspective, everyone is a reflection of you. And with that idea, relationships become a miraculous teaching device.
You decide if you want fear or love based on the intention you set at the beginning. I’ve both lost myself and remembered myself in relationships, but I prefer the latter.
The three questions above are how you open the doorway for a love-based relationship to enter your life.
By setting the goal of peace, becoming willing to move past our beliefs of not being good enough, and focusing on the content, not the frame, we can experience a deep connection and trust, which is perhaps one of the most miraculous things you can share with another human being.
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 principals, 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?
Buddhism is not founded on great world-shattering questions like: ‘Who Made the Universe?’, or ‘What is the Meaning of Life?’ It takes as its jumping off point the basic fact that we all suffer, that life not only has a pleasant, light side but a dark, painful side too — and that’s a problem.
‘Suffering I teach,’ said the Buddha; ‘and the Way out of suffering.’
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