One area in my life that’s been emotional af, caused a lot of inner turmoil, and has ruled my life in one way or another for years is: romantic love.
Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve deeply wanted to meet ‘someone special’. On reflection, I think this is due to both the society I live in and my beliefs about myself and love. Western society bombards us through media with ‘the love story‘ – that the ultimate fulfilment is finding, and falling in love. It’s also, however, due to (usually subconscious) beliefs I’ve had about how this person could make me happy/happier, as I had an underlying feeling that there was something missing in my life, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on or describe what that ‘missing’ feeling was.
The last two years, in particular, have been very emotional in regards to romantic love, as I hung on tightly to ego-based thoughts, beliefs and feelings – believing they were real. A long-term relationship ended, and whilst there was a lot of mutual love and respect in this relationship, we were at different life stages, and I wanted to move and live in London, whereas he didn’t. It was heartbreaking leaving this love and this life behind me, but I needed to go live life the way I wanted to live it which at that stage involved moving to London.
From the ending of that relationship, I felt a sense of loss of identity, as I didn’t really know who I was without this primary relationship and one-person ‘special’ connection in my life. I completely threw myself into the pursuit of finding a fresh new love. This was sometimes subconscious (drove my thoughts and behaviour), and sometimes conscious (using dating apps, going on dates, sleeping with guys). I went from one ‘rebound’ to the next – for the next 20 months!
At the time, I didn’t always realise the destructiveness of this behaviour. And whilst some of my dating experiences were very positive (I mean, I got laid #orgasm, and had a lot of fun), I also felt let down and greatly upset when some of these relationships didn’t pan out the way I had wished and hoped them to at the time. The details of these relationships don’t really matter, as once I started to dig deeper into this, I realised the hurt I experienced was most often due to my own beliefs and behaviours about romantic love.
I’ve learnt a few key nuggets of wisdom over the last few months that have helped me break through these destructive beliefs I’ve held about romantic love:
- Having that ‘missing’ feeling is normal for humans who are attached to their ego-based mind. Eckhart Tolle talks about this in The Power Of Now, as the ego-based mind is always either replaying the past and/or seeking fulfilment in the future and completely avoids the now. In this state of being, something is always missing as happiness is in the past and/or future. After undertaking the personal development course Landmark, I no longer feel that ‘missing’ feeling, as it catapulted me into the present moment – and there’s nothing missing in the present moment ever, period.
- I started researching and reading about the history of romantic relationships. The School of Life has some excellent articles on this. Basically, the way current western society views romantic love is relatively new. Since around 1750 we have been living in an era called ‘Romanticism’. This ideology is both normative, and sometimes delusional, and results in people feeling like they must find that ‘one all-encompassing special person’. This ideology is outdated and unrealistic but is the norm in our society.
- In The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, a few chapters are dedicated to ‘Human Warmth and Compassion’. Here, the Dalai Lama says he doesn’t believe in ‘true love – in falling in love’. He talks about idealised romantic love as a fantasy that is unattainable, and simply not worth it. He recommends extending intimacy to many family and friends etc. in your life, rather than focusing on achieving intimacy from romantic love. He notes also that the western view of romantic love is recent and also that it’s not universal.
- In May Cause Miracles, Gabrielle Bernstein talks about ‘the special love relationship’ as one of the egos greatest tricks at keeping us in the darkness, as special love is focused on dependency and lack. She highlights the importance of reducing the pressure on the special love relationship and finding oneness with all, as other relationships can be just as fulfilling.
- Sexologist Juliet Allen has a brilliant podcast called ‘Monogamy vs Polyamory’. She talks about the pro’s and con’s of both, and highlights the realistic cons of monogamous relationships that often people are too afraid to talk about, but are completely normal!
- There’s also so much personal growth and development to be found in romantic relationships. My experiences with romantic love have pushed and challenged me emotionally to the max! But I’m now choosing to see these relationships as great opportunities for growth, as they have propelled my development and practice of self-love, forgiveness and disassociating with my ego significantly. For this, I am deeply grateful for all of these relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, I am totally open to romance, love and being in a relationship with only one person. But I’m also open to other models of intimacy too. And after what I’ve found so far, these other models are not only just as fulfilling, but also a lot less emotionally taxing! I know when I place too much importance on this one special love relationship, it takes away so much magic from the other equally (!) wonderful areas, and equally (!) wonderful relationships in my life.
I personally don’t believe the ‘death do us part’ marriage option is a realistic model for happiness for me, and you just need to look at the statistics on divorce to see how unrealistic this is. Although, of course, it works very well for some. I’m more for an ‘as long as we choose to’ flexible kind of arrangement, which I believe eases pressure off this special love relationship, that many of us put a lot of pressures on. We tend to ask so much from these lovers (bf/gf and best friend and housemate and financial partner and potential father/mother of children and intimacy and connection and hot sex). These pressures can be eased by finding, creating and fostering deep intimate platonic relationships too. I know it sounds obvious, but if you think about it deeper, this isn’t actually the norm – at all. I’m talking more than your standard friendships and putting in as much time, energy and attention to these connections, as you would to a romantic relationship. It’s all about shifting perspectives, and gaining a deeper connection with multiple people, and seeing the ‘oneness’ of everyone. This shifts energy, and also takes the pressure (and neediness) off the romantic relationship.
And where am I on this journey of luuuvve now? I still have some forgiveness to pour onto these past relationships, as they are still coming up in my subconscious. I also intend to learn more about my ego-based obsession with finding romantic love. But for now, I feel completely content and fulfilled being ‘on my own’, without that ‘special love relationship’ – for the first time in years!
In the next few weeks, I’ll be willing to open myself up to dating again. But before I do so, I am going to get really clear on what sort of relationship/s I want and what experiences I want to have, with what sort of person/s (i.e. what qualities do I respect and they embody) – and then, I’m going to manifest it onto my life. For more on manifesting love and sex, I highly recommend inspirational Juliet Allen’s podcast ‘how to manifest your ideal lover.’