We want to have relationships, be in a relationship, and yet it is often challenging to be in one. Why?
Why would something we love be so difficult at the same time? There has to be some design and meaning to it.
The attraction makes you want to pursue the relationship. Is the attraction physical, emotional, mental or spiritual?
In hypnosis people often report that the closest relationships appear to be intentional, like contracts agreed upon before entering your next life. What would be the meaning of having those contracts?
Think of relationships from the point of view of evolution pulsing forward. We seek to grow towards ever more enriching and fulfilling experiences. What would be helpful in our quest of moving upward on the experience ladder?
Practice would. Experience would. Learning would.
Then what would close relationships especially enable us to practice, experience and learn?
It may be exactly what attracts us to it in the first place: Love. Experiencing love is a joyful, blissful and potentially incredibly ecstatic experience - one of the ultimate highs. The melting of two people into one, or perhaps into all that is, is an experience somewhere higher up the ladder of subtle and refined experiences.
Looking at it this way, a relationship may be to help you climb that ladder. Moving up a level would mean you are mastering the experience of love more. The love of self. The love of others. Especially unconditional love.
The unconditional love of self seems to be the first major stepping stone. Unconditionally loving and accepting yourself as you are in any moment - with or without flaws - sets you on the path to be free whomever you choose to be. Unconditionally loving and accepting anyone else and all else clears the road to even higher love infused experiences and freedom to choose the life you want.
This may seem a tall order: unconditional love. It is.
Being yourself yet again appears the foundation of mastering the experience, in this case having loving relationships. Not being yourself seems to play a role in most challenges you face in life, including broken and unsatisfying relationships.
Let's start with the boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse relationship. You fall in love both ways and you 'fall' into the relationship. It may have been love at first sight or perhaps the love had to grow on you. Who is falling in love with what?
A complex dynamic interaction unfolds revolving around the exchange of preferences. Initially, preferences may seem perfectly aligned: you both like and love the same things. Over time, the preferences may seem more or less aligned and tension may arise. The first 'fart' or other intimate expression will test the strength of the alignment and love in the absence of alignment. The arrival of children or pets in the relationship will make the dynamic interaction more complex. New preferences are activated. The management of time, space, friendships, extended family, roles, tasks, work, food, money and entertainment becomes more complex as the number of family members increases.
We are fundamentally experiencing the balance of unity and separation depending on how we deal with all of these preferences in relation to the 'other' and our 'inner self' - and especially the differences between. How different you are and how much acceptance of the difference there is, determines the amount of tension.
When two people in a relationship turn out to have very different preferences, and there is no acceptance of that difference in each other, what happens?
Separation increases. Either one or both will adjust towards the other, separating him/herself from his/her true identity. Or neither will adjust and tension is significant, likely leading to greater separation between the two.
When you adjust towards the other to a degree that you separate yourself from being yourself, life will come knocking on your door not to do that. You have moved the tension inside of you. In the extreme case, you adjust yourself so much that you have basically become the other. The tension has moved inside of you between what you really want and what you are going along with. Simple choices like which movie to watch or what car to buy start to go against you. What reflects your true identity or adjusted version of you? The internal tension is between your true desires and the compromised version of you. You are not living, doing and being what you love. You know this is the case when you experience a certain tension.
Being you is your prime mission in life. To experience and express your unique being is natural. When you don’t, tension arises in you, and if it continues long enough, cracks start appearing.
It is very possible that when you went into the relationship you were already an adjusted version of yourself. Through your experiences you adjusted your preferences to fit in. Now you found a partner that fits perhaps with your adjusted you, reinforcing that version of you. The tension inside of you continues to build. You can’t move up the experience ladder this way. In fact, it may force you downward.
Tension arises when you move from your center being. Your personality side may try to create a new center, but your soul influence won’t let you. You are meant to be that version of you that resonates and is congruent with your soul essence. It is like you have a rubber band around your ankle, and the further you move from your core, the higher the tension. The center doesn’t move. It’s your essence.
Meanwhile, not adjusting nor accepting the differences creates tension in the relationship with the other. This comes down to simple decisions of what to do on the weekend, what to spend the money on, how to raise the children, who will let the dog out, how to behave, what to eat tonight, etc, etc, etc.
So, adjusting or not adjusting both creates tension either internally or externally and doesn't seem to be satisfying. That leaves us with acceptance.
Why is it so difficult to accept the other for who he/she is? That is because most relationships are transactional based love instead of resonance based love.
You have the relationship to give and/or receive love and experience unity. But love can be understood in different ways. You may be in the relationship to avoid loneliness, gain financially, have sex or be safe in the name of ‘love’. This form of love is based on an exchange. When the exchange stops, the love also stops. You give your form of love as long as you get what you want.
In this type of relationship there is constant negotiation of which preference gets priority. Again, if you give up too much in this negotiation, the tension moves from outside to inside. When you don’t give up anything, the tension moves from inside to outside. ‘Giving’ may then be rewarded and perceived as ‘loving me’. When you don’t ‘give’, you don’t love me. On the other hand, asking me to give is also a sign of not loving me, and if I ask you to give and you don’t, you also don’t love me. Complicated. It comes down to giving me all of you and more without asking anything from me - then you love me.
This version of love can be pleasurable but seems to not sustain itself. It needs to be fed continuously. There is never enough to give and it is never good enough.
Accepting the other would put your position of getting out of the relationship what you want in jeopardy: your movie, your food, your side of the bed, your schedule, your everything. And this is precisely why accepting and loving yourself is the first step for developing fulfilling relationships that are based on a different type of love that leads to experiences of love higher up the ladder.
What happens when you accept and love yourself first, unconditionally? The need for transactions disappears. Your experience of love is no longer based on some condition. It is. It is not dependent on anything. You find the love inside of you, instead of outside of you. You already have it. Nobody and nothing needs to give it to you.
What about your preferences? Your food, your vacation, your weekend activities, your work, your hobbies, your way of folding clothes, etc? You honor them. You accept them. You want them. You love them. And when you love them fully, they will find their way into your life - without the tension. Adjustment moves the tension. Acceptance solves the tension.
Once you have become your own source of love - you can not not accept others for who they are unconditionally. You have embraced a version of love that isn’t conditional. You may still not agree with the other, you may still have different preferences, and you may not even want to be with the other person anymore - you can still honor, accept and love the other for who he/she is.
Unconditional means no conditions. There is nothing that needs to be changed to be loved. All flaws included. All imperfections are loved as much. All shortcomings welcomed.
This is when you experience more unity, instead of separation. You recognize that we fundamentally are more one than not. If you are me, and I am you - and I love me, then I must love you too.
This opens the door to many possibilities. You don’t ‘have’ to be in a relationship any more. You may want to simplify because of the resonance you experience with the other, amplifying the experience of love and unity.
Going back to the ‘contracts’ people in hypnosis frequently report on - you could say that every relationship is a way to learn and experience unconditional love for yourself and others. You choose certain relationships to grow and learn, opening the doors to even richer experiences.
Sometimes that means you leave a relationship. Sometimes you reinvent it. Sometimes you choose to be or not to be in a relationship. It depends on your needs for growth and what experiences you seek.
It is clear however, that to experience a relationship differently, something in you will need to transform and grow. Especially unconditional love and acceptance produces a very different version of love.
When you transition from transactional based love to resonance based love - all your relationships change. With your parents, siblings, children, pets, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors and so forth. Some will end, some will be reinvented, some will be new. You go where being you is in harmony with.