I think for most of us, we've all seen that notion before and in great abundance. In our cultural myths. In the movies. We've read it in the books. Why, we've even heard others talk about how "that's the way Love is suppose to be." But it is not true. Worse, it put an incredible pressure on the other to be all sorts of things he/she is not. Not wanting to "let us down," they try very hard to be and do these things until they cannot anymore. They can no longer complete our picture of them. They can no longer fill the roles to which they have been assigned. Resentment builds. Anger follows. Finally, in order to save themselves, (and the relationship), these special others begin to reclaim their real selves, acting more in accordance with who they really are. It is about this time that we say they've "really changed". It's very romantic to say that now that our special other has entered our life, we feel "complete." Yet, the purpose of relationships is not to have another who might complete us; but to have another with whom we might share our "completeness".
Here is the paradox of all human relationships: We have no need for a particular other in order for us to experience, fully, who we are, and . . . without another, we are nothing. This is both the mystery and the wonder, the frustration and the joy of the human experience. It requires deep understanding and total willingness to live within this paradox in a way which makes sense. I observe that very few people do. Most of us (men, women, gay/bi/straight), enter our relationship-forming years ripe with anticipation, full of sexual energy, a wide-open heart, and a joyful, if eager, soul. Between 40 to 60 (and for most it is sooner rather than later) we've given up on our grandest dream, set aside our highest hope, and settled for our lowest expectation - or nothing at all. The test of our relationships has had to do with how well the other lived up to our ideas, and how well we saw ourselves living up to his/hers. Yet the only true test has to do with how well we live up to ours. Let each person in realtionships worry about Self - what Self is being, doing, and having; what Self is wanting, asking, giving; what Self is seeking, creating, experiencing, and all relationships would magnificently serve their purpose - and their participants!
This seems a strange teaching, for we have been told that in the highest form of relationships, one worries only about the other person. Yet I tell you this: our focus upon the other - our obsession with the other - is what causes relationships to fail. What is the other being? What is the other doing? What is the other having? What is the other saying? Wanting? Demanding? What is the other thinking? Expecting? Planning? The wise person understands that it doesn't matter what the other is being, doing, haing, saying, wanting, demanding. It doesn't matter what the other person is thinking, expecting, planning. It only matters what we are being in relationship to that. The most loving person is the person who is Self-centered. Is this a radical teaching? Not if we look at it carefully. If we cannot love our Selves, we cannot love another. Many people make the mistake of seeing love of Self through love for another. Of course, they don't realize they are doing this. It is not a conscious effort. It's what's going on in the mind. Deep in the mind. In what we call the subconscious. We think: "If I can just love others, they will love me. Then I will be lovable, and I can love me."
The reverse of this is that so many people hate themselves because there is not another who loves them. This is a sickness - it's when people are truly "lovesick" because the truth is, other people do love them, but it doesn't matter. No matter how many people profess their love for them, it is not enough. First, they don't believe you. They think you are trying to manipulate them - trying to get something. (How could you love them for who they truly are? No. There must be some mistake. You must want something! Now what do you want?) They sit around trying to figure out how anyone could actually love them. So they don't believe you, and embark on a campaign to make you prove it. You have to prove that you love them. To do this they may ask you to start altering your behavior. Second, if they finally come to a place where they can believe you love them, they begin at once to worryabout how long they can keep your love. So, in order to hold on to your love, they start altering their behavior.
Thus, two people literally lose themselves in a relationship. We get into the relationship hoping to find ourselves, and we lose ourselves instead. This losing of the Self in a relationship is what causes most of the bitterness in such couplings. Two people join together in a partnership hoping that the whole will be greater than the parts, only to find that it's less. We wind up feeling less than when we were single. Less capable, less able, less exciting, less attractive, less joyful, less content. This is because we became less. At that point we've given up most of who we are in order to be - and to stay - in our relationship. Relationships were never meant to be this way! Yet this is how they are experienced by more people than one could ever know. It is because we have lost touch with (if we ever were in touch with) the purpose of relationships: to decide Who We Really Are, to choose Who We Want To Be; and then experience that for ourselves.
Our first relationship, therefore, must be with our Selves. We must first learn to honor and cherish and love ourselves. We must first see our Selves as blessed before we can see any other as blessed. We must first know our Selves to be holy before we can acknowledge holiness in another. This is the message we have not been able to hear, this is the truth we have not been able to accept. And that is why we can never truly, purely, fall in love with another. We have never truly, purely, fallen in love with ourselves. And so, I tell you this: Let us be now and forever, centered upon our Selves. Let us look to see what we are being, doing, and having in any given moment, not what's going on with another. It is not in the action of another, but in our re-action that our salvation will be found. Blessed Be, Namaste!