The Mysteries of Romantic Relationships

This is a bit of an arrogant title, isn't it?  There are so many mysteries of romantic relationships, thousands of volumes of poetry and prose have been written on the subject.  Romantic relationships are often seen as a metaphor for the heart of human life itself, so to talk of their mysteries in one blog post… like I said, a bit arrogant.  Anyway, I do want to say something about this.  Relationship and love have certainly been a doorway for me to grow and understand more about myself and the world, and perhaps this will be helpful for you too.

So here's the mystery: there is, inside of us, a love that is seemingly inexhaustible, unconditional, and totally satisfying.  Sometimes it's relationship difficulties that force us to find this.  And yet, there are still reasons why we might want to get into a relationship, or leave one, or stay in one, or stay out of relationships altogether.  Just because we are surrounded and suffused by love satisfaction, doesn't mean we don't act in myriad particular ways to get certain things.  This, is a mystery.
Experience is a river. And the process of each moment giving rise to the next moment isn't merely passive.  A la Whitehead in each moment we feel our way forward, like a puddle of water on the ground feeling outward in different directions simultaneously, finding the path of greatest attraction. You can find a feeling of yourself doing this in each moment if you pay attention closely and in a certain way.  So why do we choose certain things over others?  Pragmatic and concrete answers of desire, control, or cause and affect are well and good.  But where did your desire come from, or your control, or your choice, and why only certain options and not others?  I don't think this mystery is resolvable. Take the beginning: in the beginning… there were limited options for the next moment, and so the 'first' moment felt its way forward into the next.

At heart then, what can be so frustrating about relationships is that they are a powerful doorway to our confrontation with the spontaneous and unjustifiable nature of our own and others' actions and desires.  We just want something, or we just want something else.  And all I want to say to you is that this is not wrong.  It is simply the way it is.  It can be frustrating, awe-inspiring, bewildering, angering, lust-inducing, and everything else that relationships can be, but it's not wrong.  If you do think it's wrong, or that it must be changed, then I'd also like to say that the pain and confusion that can come with this confrontation, which I understand can be quite painful and confusing, is best seen as an opportunity.  I promise you that it can lead to something better than you knew before: the confrontation with the simultaneous fact that the particular satisfaction you're looking for comes from relaxing, not getting.

Actual rivers sometimes find themselves flowing into a constricted place, damned up by weather, beaver, or man made structures.  They pool and stay still, not perfectly still, the water may seep into the ground or evaporate to continue it's journey, but seemingly still.  Sometimes rivers flow over rocky, uneven ground and they swell, become turbulent, and eddy in circles over and over and over before eventually falling out the side of the eddy and continuing downstream.  The river of our experience is very similar.  Our lives have constricted times and constricted places, turbulent, and eddying times and places too.  The sense of love not being available anywhere, inside or outside relationship - and yet you seek because it must be somewhere - is due to a kind of eddy in experience.

In my life, I spent several years in and outside of relationships always feeling somewhat desperate.  Where was the love I was seeking?  And then I discovered the tension.  I reflected on the fact that nothing imaginable seemed to be able to satisfy my desire for love: in no case could I imagine feeling loved and appreciated to the degree that would be satisfying.  And then I asked myself, is that because I am unwilling or unable to let love in, and not because it's not given?  Yes, of course.  Then, imagining receiving love I let my attention follow the flow of those feelings… right into a constricted place.  My perineum tightened, I bounced away from receiving love and into my head, into an abstract, philosophical reflection on the whole process.  Aha!  I returned to my perineum, determined to relax.  I relaxed, and what did I find?  The love I had been looking for.  And it got in.  In fact, it couldn't even get in, because it was already in, already in and amidst and amongst my experience of just being here, like water to a fish.  It is this kind of physical, emotional, and existential relaxation that satisfies desperate longings, and in particular the desperate longing to feel loved.

Relationships can help us relax.  And sometimes we can't relax except outside of a relationship.  This was how it was for me.  It is hard to know before hand.  So, then, does finding satisfaction in love mean that you'll never need a relationship again.  Not necessarily, there may be other reasons you want to get into, or stay in, a relationship. In general, the more we experience these kinds of relaxations and the satisfactions they bring, the more our actions become spontaneous and powerful, but sometimes they also make it so that we our actions occur with less fearful reflection and deliberation.  You may not know what you want until after you find yourself going for it.