There are many cultural myths about finding ‘the one’. It seems a lot of suffering is created and perpetuated by this idea that somewhere, ‘out there’, I might find that one person who is a perfect match.
I even heard a story about a woman, who, many years ago, was a student of my teacher. She spent many many years mostly single, looking for her ‘one’. She eventually thought she had found her ‘one’ in a rockstar that she was in love with. Upon meeting this man, obviously she was disappointed with what she found. Thus she concluded, after many years of being single, withdrawn, and desperately lonely, that her ‘one’ had not been incarnated in this life time; she would meet him in a future life time.
There are many men and women out there in the world, suffering their aloneness, building up resentment towards ‘women’, ‘men’ or the world in general. I’ve heard so many times statements like ‘I’m so ready, but there just aren’t any good [men/women] out there’. These cycle of expectation and disappointment, hoping and hurting in turn can cause a lot of inner turmoil and even lead to a kind of inner resignation and self defeating beliefs, like ‘maybe its me, maybe I’m just not loveable’.
Fortunately there is a way, one that is guaranteed to magnetize the man or woman that you are looking for.
That way though, might not be as appealing as the idea that the perfect person will just come along and sweep us off of our feet and make everything better.
(By the way, incase you’ve never been swept off of your feet and ‘completed’ by the ‘perfect’ man or woman, rest assured that these kinds of relationships, while they may seem perfect at the start, usually end in disappointment, resentment and heart break… We are about to see why that is.)
The answer, is to marry yourself first.
Learning to Love - Marriage With Oneself
The only relationship you will truly have with others, is the one you are having with yourself. So the question then, is not ‘where are the good men/women’, but ‘am I truly ready and available for that person or relationship?’
Before we can speak about healthy interpersonal relationships, we must first establish (and not just discuss) a healthy intrapersonal relationship. Intrapersonal means within the person (inter means between two or more). So Intrapersonal relationship, means the relationship you have with yourself.
Making this distinction might be as far as many people get. But for those that really want to do the work and enter a true relationship a good general principle to consider is that you always attract your reciprocal. In other words, wherever you are actually ‘at’ within yourself, this is exactly the kind of man or woman that you will attract. The key is becoming conscious enough to see that the dysfunction you encounter in your relationships, is 100% your responsibility (note: I said responsibility, I did not say 100% your fault!) and then acting accordingly.
Of course you don’t need to be 100% healed before you qualify for a real relationship. but doing the work on yourself, rather than passively waiting and complaining about ‘them’, is the key step.
Taking 100% responsibility for the way our life unfolds is a good marker of our human and spiritual maturity. Blaming others for our problems, or expecting others to come along and help us out of our difficulties, without even having to ask for it, are signs that there is work to be done, subconscious disharmony to be embraced and loved.
Making this kind of life long commitment to ourselves, to our own wellbeing, integrity and growth could be called marrying oneself. The only way we can learn to love other unconditionally, is to come to the same level of unconditional self acceptance within our own self.
Doing the Work
What is buried within you, when brought to the surface becomes the fuel for the fire of your aspiration. It can liberate you. That which is not addressed and left to fester beneath the surface of the mind, will corrupt you, your relationships and anything you try to create in this life.
Again, I am not saying that 100% perfection is necessary to find a healthy relationship, but if you make earnest steps on this journey within yourself, you will meet another who is also stepping or willing to take steps. Thus your relationship will go through a period of mutual growth and transformation as you ‘do the work’ together.
Why do you get up in the morning?
Why do you do what you do?
What does your life mean, where is it heading?
Do you see and can you laugh at your inner contradictions?
Do you see clearly, either immediately or soon after, when you go into a childish reaction to a situation?
Do you easily acknowledge and adapt when you have misread cues and responded out of turn?
Can you laugh at yourself and let go when you discover either of the previous 2 statements to be the case?
How comfortable are you with the areas of deep pain in your life?
Can you express them to trusted people, without collapse?
I could go on with questions but perhaps you get the point.
It might not be comfortable, but these orienting questions can form a framework for the inner work of establishing a healthy, loving relationship with oneself. The deeper you come to know yourself, the more love and acceptance you find for those unlovable parts within you, (one definition of the term ‘self-love’) the more space you will open up within you to receive another being in the same level of love.
‘The work’ also implies a number of sometimes quite difficult skills that must be learned. For example: recognizing and expressing your personal boundaries; Being able to express issues while only speaking for yourself, without projections, judgements blaming others or victimizing yourself; discerning your true feelings (as opposed to your judgements, projections etc.), understanding the underlying needs, and being able to meet those needs within yourself, without putting the responsibility for them upon another.
Self-Love, What Does it Truly Mean to Love Oneself?
There is one person in this world that knows how to and is capable of loving you in exactly the way you need, and that person is you.
The preliminaries of this healthy relationship with yourself are, getting comfortable with the various expressions of your being, your character, discovering kinks, loving wounds, and developing a healthy resilience though a radical self acceptance. But this is only the means, not goal. Eventually you will come to understand that there is an aspect of your being that is inherently free from your conditioned reactions. A centre that, when discovered, intuitively feels like home, like ‘myself’.
This is a place of compassion, curiosity, clarity, creativity, calm, confidence, courage, and connectedness (shout out Dick Schwartz, founder of the IFS model for this convenient, clear, comprehensible compilation of C words to describe what he calls Self). In finding ourselves, we learn to love ourselves. We learn that the love that we seek flows from within when we open to ourselves. That the love that we seek from outside of ourselves is rarely fulfilling, because the love we seek is actually the natural outflow of our own aliveness and radiance. We learn that we are the love that we seek.
Thus, we come to understand that self-love, is the inherent, unconditional acceptance of everything that arises in our experience, including, our bodies, minds, traumas, personal histories, failures and desires.
In other words, the understanding that must dawn from within, is that in falling in love, it is you that opens, and the love that you feel, that is you. The natural radiance of your being, when you are not hiding, not pretending to be someone else, not running away from yourself, is the incredible richness, fullness, aliveness that you feel when you are ‘in love’.
This is your ‘power’ the truest and the greatest power of your being, of who you are.
Some people like to speak about sovereignty, about reclaiming their power about autonomy and independence. These buzz words unfortunately mean nothing if they don’t refer to exactly this. You are free to love, to know yourself more deeply than patterns of habitual reactivity and express the freedom of your being from there. The alternative to love, in this sense, would be contraction in to the ego centric state of limitation and conditioning. In any moment you are free to choose to open to love, or at least to recognise that you are choosing (albeit unconsciously) to live as less than love, and take the necessary steps to return to that love that is inherently yours.
Entering a Relationship With Another
Once you find, learn to love, and marry yourself, or at least take genuine steps in this direction, you are ready to begin to consider a relationship with another.
It’s time to start considering what it truly means to be in relationship with another being. In considering a relationship, and/or during the process of entering a relationship, there are some more useful and revealing questions to keep in mind:
What does relationship mean to you?
Why are you looking to be in one?
These important question can be very revealing. I suggest you to take a journal and free write on these ideas for a while, in order to discover what answers may be there to be found.
Of course we may say, for love, for companionship or to ‘go there’ (wherever ‘there’ is) together. While these are probably somewhat true, there may also be underlying layers of ulterior motives.
A relationship entered simply out of mutual attraction may be very fun and playful for a time, but the relationship will lack depth and become stale. This is not a bad thing in itself, but it is likely that there are underlying, un recognized needs/hopes/expectations on at least 1 side and potentially the naively hopeful partner will end up in pain.
A relationship entered out of fear of being alone, will lead to much possessiveness and grasping.
A relationship entered without a sense of completion or worthiness within oneself, will surely lead to manipulation and expectation as we try to get our partner to be the way we want them to be so that we can feel good about ourselves.
To Get, or to Give? Generosity as the Foundation in the Spiritual Life
Expectations of others will always lead to disappointment, because no one can be what you want them to be. You however can and should become exactly what you want them to be. By becoming that which you seek, you are able to offer what you have, rather than expect that which another can never provide.
This points to a deeper and more pervasive aspect of a life lived from the core of being, vs. living from the neediness and dependency of the personality structure.
In your life in general, and in your relationships especially, are you moving from lack, or fullness?
Are you showing up to the table with something to offer, or are you in a constantly seeking to get?
Of course we all have needs and seeking ways to support each other in fulfilling those needs also forms an integral part of a truly healthy relationship. But at your core do you feel the fullness and satisfaction that allows you to forget yourself and give yourself to the service of another? Without this generosity is not possible.
Generosity involves a selfless and open-hearted approach to sharing time, attention, kindness, and resources with one's partner. Generosity also extends to the expression of gratitude, appreciation, even devotion. It creates a positive feedback loop that enhances the emotional bond between partners. This quality not only strengthens the connection but also contributes to a sense of abundance and shared well-being within the relationship. Essentially, generosity is a cornerstone of not just healthy relationships, but of a healthy and fulfilling human life.
Entering a relationship from a place of need, automatically limits your partners freedom to the confines of your own limitations and fears. Entering a relationship from fullness with the intention to give, liberates your partner from their own limitations and fears, because you are capable and aspiring to offer them themselves.
The ‘Other’ is A Mirror of the All
Eventually, just as it becomes clear that the way we relate with ourselves dictates the quality of the relationships we have with others, we come to see that the way we receive and relate with our partner, actually reflects the way that we relate with the entire existence.
Our partner is a microcosm of the macrocosmic universe in which we live. The way we relate to him or her, reflects the way we relate to all of this life. Our partner will reflect to us the darkest and most painful unowned blind spots within us. Our partner can also serve as a gateway into the mystery and the beauty of this existence. With maturity we learn to let go of the defense mechanisms and open to the depth of who we are, from where selfless service, unconditional love, creativity, and freedom, even in the midst of life’s complications flow freely.
In this sense, an intimate relationship can be the most relentless and most rapid path towards transformation and spiritual liberation. Yet the foundation is the relationship with ones own self. Are you ready, truly ready and willing to enter into a relationship in which your partner is not just a means towards meeting some conscious or unconscious needs of yours, but is actually embraced as a sacred gateway through which you can gift each other with the deepest love you have known, open each other to deeper and deeper expressions of that love and hold each other lovingly accountable for living as the deepest and truest expression of love in all aspects of your lives? Or are you happy to avoid the work and keep hoping for Mr. or Mrs. right to just appear and sweep you off of your feet?