Our romantic partner is our biggest teacher, and profound tool for awakening.
Because, romantic relationships are usually based on conditional love, where two egos come together, sometimes in harmony, but often in a battle for power and control, which leads to inevitable conflict, disappointment and disillusionment.
We expect our partner to make us feel happy, loved and whole. We see them as our ‘other half’ or soul mate. We thrust many expectations onto them – how we expect them to treat us, what we expect them to achieve, and what their role should be, both in life, and in the relationship.
In doing this, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment. Because our partner can never fully meet our ego’s expectations, or make us feel loved, whole and happy. Our partner can temporarily fill that aching void inside us, giving us a momentary illusion of love and wholeness, but this immediately evaporates as soon as our ego comes into conflict with theirs… as soon as they somehow disappoint us.
We perpetuate conditional love, give away our power, and move further away from recognizing the awakening that we desire, by seeking wholeness and love in another person. It can never be found there, just as it can never be found in a guru, spiritual practice, career, status or material possessions. This is hard for the mind to grasp, because it has been programmed with generations of cultural conditioning about how we can find fulfilment in romantic partners… as well as in careers, money or anything else in the external world.
But this cultural conditioning is an illusion, and is the cause of conflict in our relationships.
This conditioning, combined with our ego, means that we don’t see people as they really are. Instead, we see them through the egoic filter of what they trigger in us. We project our own ideas and identity stories onto them. We create our own image of our partner, based on our past interactions, ideas we picked up from society, and stories we imagine in our heads – a totally fictional cocktail of pre-judgements, preconceptions and pre-conceived ideas about who they are.
Moving towards unconditional love, and discovering our soul mate…
Unconditional love is about seeing truth and reality, and this means seeing our partner with clarity – without our egoic filter and projections. It means taking full responsibility for our egoic filter and projections.
We can recognize that our partner is our greatest spiritual teacher, because he/she simply reflects back to us everything that we reject, deny and dislike in ourselves. Our partner triggers everything inside us that needs to be healed – abandonment issues, jealousy, a need for control, fears, a need for approval, competitiveness, unworthiness issues… the manifestations can be endless.
Taking responsibility for how our partner triggers us, is a way to take back our power, because we no longer blame our partner for making us unhappy, or hold them responsible for making us happy.
Taking responsibility for our own egoic filter and projections means facing them, admitting them, owning them, embracing them, accepting them, and loving them… with compassionate awareness.
And we can do the same with our partner – we can surrender, accept and embrace the reality of our partner, just the way they are, now, in each moment. This doesn’t mean we agree with everything they say, or let them control us. It simply means we meet them, now, in this moment, seeing the reality of who they are, rather than reacting to what they trigger in us, or projecting our imagined image onto them.
So we can respond to them with open attention, rather than being defensive, manipulative, controlling, trying to impress, seek approval, or be ‘right’. We no longer interact by trying to maintain and defend our own image of ourselves (ego), or our imagined image of them. Instead, we drop all our ego stories about ourselves and our partner, and meet them with new innocence and fascination, in each arising moment.
We respond, from a place of deep acceptance and surrender, rather than react, from a place of resistance and defense.
Our partner reflects ourselves back to us, so only in the deepest acceptance of ourselves, are we able to find the deepest acceptance for our partner. And with that deep acceptance and surrender, we discover that we are the love, acceptance and wholeness that we were seeking from our partner… And we also recognize that our partner is that same love, acceptance and wholeness – and this realisation is expressed as unconditional love.
So let’s take back our power.
Let’s go beyond the limitations and egoic suffering of conditional love.
Let’s take full responsibility for our triggers and reactivity, so we no longer hold our partner responsible for making us happy.
Let’s stop seeking love and wholeness, and recognize that we already are everything we seek.
And let’s reflect that back to our partner, meeting them with open attention in each arising moment.
Let’s respond rather than react, so we can engage in a new dance of unconditional love.
This is the true meaning of ‘soul mate’ – recognizing that we are already part of the same unconditional love, wholeness and acceptance, from which all forms arise.