Unless and until you access the consciousness frequency of presence, all relationships, and particularly intimate relationships, are deeply flawed and ultimately dysfunctional. They may seem perfect for a while, such as when you are "in love," but invariably that apparent perfection gets disrupted as arguments, conflicts, dissatisfaction, and emotional or even physical violence occur with increasing frequency. It seems that most "love relationships" become love/hate relationships before long. Love can then turn into savage attack, feelings of hostility, or complete withdrawal of affection at the flick of a switch. This is considered normal. The relationship then oscillates for a while, a few months or a few years, between the polarities of "love" and hate, and it gives you as much pleasure as it gives you pain. It is not uncommon for couples to become addicted to those cycles. Their drama makes them feel alive. When a balance between the positive/negative polarities is lost and the negative, destructive cycles occur with increasing frequency and intensity, which tends to happen sooner or later, then it will not be long before the relationship finally collapses.
It may appear that if you could only eliminate the negative or destructive cycles, then all would be well and the relationship would flower beautifully - but alas, this is not possible. The polarities are mutually dependent. You cannot have one without the other. The positive already contains within itself the as yet unmanifested negative. Both are in fact different aspects of the same dysfunction. I am speaking here of what is commonly called romantic relationships - not of true love, which has no opposite because it arises from beyond the mind. Love as a continuous state is as yet very rare - as rare as conscious human beings. Brief and elusive glimpses of love, however, are possible whenever there is a gap in the stream of mind.
The negative side of a relationship is, of course, more easily recognizable as dysfunctional than the positive one. And it is also easier to recognize the source of negativity in your partner than to see it in yourself. It can manifest in many forms: possessiveness, jealousy, control, withdrawal and unspoken resentment, the need to be right, insensitivity and self-absorption, emotional demands and manipulation, the urge to argue, criticize, judge, blame, or attack, anger, unconscious revenge for past pain inflicted by a parent, rage and physical violence.
On the positive side, you are "in love" with your partner. This is at first a very satisfying state. You feel intensely alive. Your existence has suddenly become meaningful because someone needs you, wants you, and makes you feel special, and you do the same for him or her. When you are together, you feel whole. The feeling can become so intense that the rest of the world fades into insignificance.
However, you may also have noticed that there is a neediness and a clinging quality to that intensity. You become addicted to the other person. He or she acts on you like a drug. You are on a high when the drug is available, but even the possibility or the thought that he or she might no longer be there for you can lead to jealousy, possessiveness, attempts at manipulation through emotional blackmail, blaming and accusing, fear of loss. If the other person does leave you, this can give rise to the most intense hostility or the most profound grief and despair. In an instant, loving tenderness can turn into a savage attack or dreadful grief. Where is the love now? Can love change into its opposite in an instant? Was it love in the first place, or just an addictive grasping and clinging?
. . . If in your relationships you experience both "love" and the opposite of love - attack, emotional violence, and so on - then it is likely that you are confusing ego attachment and addictive clinging with love. You cannot love your partner one moment and attack him or her the next. True love has no opposite. If your "love" has as opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete and deeper sense of self, a need that the other person temporarily meets. It is the ego's substitute for salvation, and for a short time it almost does feel like salvation.
But there comes a point when your partner behaves in ways that fail to meet your needs, or rather those of your ego. The feelings of fear, pain, and lack that are an intrinsic part of egoic consciousness but had been covered up by the "love relationship" now resurface. Just as with every other addiction, you are on a high when the drug is available, but invariably there comes a time when the drug no longer works for you. When those painful feelings reappear, you feel them even more strongly than before, and what is more, you now perceive your partner as the cause of those feelings. This means that you project them outward and attack the other with all the savage violence that is part of your pain. This attack may awaken the partner's own pain, and he or she may counter your attack. At this point, the ego is still unconsciously hoping that its attack or its attempts at manipulation will be sufficient punishment to induce your partner to change their behavior . . .
The reason why the romantic love relationship is such an intense and universally sought-after experience is that it seems to offer liberation from a deep-seated state of fear, need, lack, and incompleteness that is part of the human condition in its unredeemed and unenlightened state . . .
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
- Step One: "The Catch"
Going through life. Someone catches your eye. Thought: "They can make me happy!" "This is what I've been waiting for all of my life." Promise of fulfillment. The future is bright, and bursting with potential.
"Love is what happens to a man and a woman
who don't know each other."
- W. Somerset Maugham
- Step Two: "Courtship"
You display your best features, hide the bad ones. At this point, either get painfully rejected several times and return to Step One, or if the courtship is successful, fall in "love."
"When two people are under the influence of the most violent,
most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions,
they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited,
abnormal and exhausting condition until death do them part."
- George Bernard Shaw
(Editor's Note: Marriage may occur at this step, or after any any of the following steps.)
- Step Three: "Romance"
Time moves on. Swell of passion begins to fade. He/she is still perfect . . . mostly, well except maybe for this one little thing . . .
"The duration of passion is proportionate
with the original resistance of the woman."
- Honore de Balzac
- Step Four: "The Honeymoon Has Ended."
A wide assortment of minor problems emerge, usually each party blaming the other, either loudly or secretly.
"Men are April when they woo,
December when they wed;
maids are May when they are maids,
but the sky changes when they are wives."
- William Shakespeare (As You Like It, Act 4, Scene 1)
- Step Five: "Rude Awakening"
Problems, issues, and troubles.Infatuation fully fades away. You realize that this other person is just another normal, flawed, breathing, scratching, coughing, fearful, complicated human being, just like yourself, more or less. They find out the same about you. Guys begin to think "Why is she like that?" Girls begin to think, "He'll never change." Often this is accompanied by feelings of betrayal, of having been wronged, let down, disappointed, or hurt.
"Love is something that hangs up behind the bathroom door
and smells of Lysol."
- Ernest Hemingway
- Step Six: "This isn't what I expected."
"I realize that what I thought was the real solution, IT, the Answer, the end of loneliness, boredom, unhappiness . . . wasn't. Now I'm right back where I started, lonely and in pain. You go to bed soulmates, wake up cellmates."
"Marriage is like paying an endless visit
in your worst clothes."
- J. B. Priestley
- Step Seven: "Crossroads"
This step consists of how one copes with the previous step. Here, one is at the following crossroads: Either
- Break up or divorce;
- Separate, or take a breather, and resume problems at a later time;
- Both partners find a way for the relationship to evolve to a deeper level of understanding and maturity;
- Have an affair (return to Step One); or
- Resign yourself to a dull, colorless life full of crushing disappointment, barren drudgery, and hopeless resignation.
"Typical love is like two poor people
where each believe that the other is rich.
Sooner or later, each finds out that that is other person is just as poor as they are."
- Roy Masters
- Step Eight: "Rest a bit."
Ponder on what went wrong, and try to come up with theories and/or explanations of what happened. The quality and accuracy of answers vary, depending on how in touch with reality one is, one's honesty, and often the quality of relationship books one is reading. Typically, the solution is to conclude that it was the other person's fault, and the way to not make the same mistake again is to find a "better" person. (Note: this step can, and often is, skipped by those who move immediately to a new partner, thus returning again to the cycle at Step One.)
"There are very few people who are not ashamed of having been in love
when they no longer love each other."
- Duc de la Rochefoucauld
- Step Nine: "Start looking for a new catch."
Return to Step 1.
"Love is only a dirty trick played on us
to achieve the continuation of the species."
- W. Somerset Maugham
is The Typical Cycle
of romance and passion!
"Love is the word used to label the sexual excitement of the young,
the habituation of the middle-aged, and the mutual dependence of the old."
- John Ciardi
U N L E S S
"The Typical Cycle."
. . . and how, exactly, do you do that??
"If Romeo and Juliet would have stayed around,
then they would have soon been bickering over the dishes
and who was going to hang the curtains."
. . . well, by breaking the cycle at some point.
And just how, exactly, do you do that??