After all, how can anyone else tell you what you should and shouldn’t know about love and relationships? Its your life, your destiny and your call.
But having pursued relationships all the way around the world and back again and made it my life’s purpose to find my soul mate – I feel I can pass on some of what I’ve got the gist of so far. Like, for instance, there is no model for relationships that works for everyone, but there’s only one love.
The prevailing attitude, conversely, is monotheistic in its approach to relationships but consists of many ways of measuring love. Romance, it seems to me, is a religion of false idols.
What I mean is that from my observations people are unrealistically expected to conform to certain patterns of behaviour – there are rules about courtship; ideas about ‘fidelity’ that inform our decisions about ‘suitability’ and ‘commitment’.
There’s a tendency to compartmentalise and label our relationships – this one is friendship, that one partnership, another parent-child love, pet-owner affection and so on.
The thing that we are led to believe we really want is that One Magnificent Love, the special Soul Mate, a total and deep immersion in another. Completion. Forever.
“I love you but I’m not in love with you” is what we hear when the heart won’t open – when there’s some magical ingredient missing from the coupling; “the chemistry’s just not there”.
The romantic narrative is supposed to go a certain way and if it doesn’t its a dud. “He’s just not that into you” is how it goes these days.
But apparently the real question is – are you that into you?
Is it fair to expect from someone else to give us what we cannot or will not give ourselves? Hand in hand with romantic love comes ‘self esteem’ – we must first love ourselves before someone really great can get anything from us.
Low self esteem means we have crappy ‘destructive’ relationships and high self esteem gets us better (constructive?) ones. There’s that hierarchy again; measuring and defining.
Where does all the dogma come from?
Robert A Johnson, in his work on the psychology of romantic love, explains how we in the west have come to muddle human relationships and spiritual discipline – how the urge to merge with the divine and the need for companionship have become fused and distorted.
Somewhere along the line Eros has been caught and caged like a budgerigar. We’ve literalised love between people just as we’ve literalised every other mystery and made it into a religion.
Maybe I’m wrong. I’m willing to be, because there’s a part of me that still wishes for it to be true – the fairy tale and happily ever after.
Meanwhile, though, what is true of my experience is that all relationships are soul mate relationships.
By this I mean that its the nature of love to call to the soul – ‘Eros always leads to Psyche’ as alchemy teaches. Likewise, soul draws love to itself and in many forms, without judgement or restriction.
I find the notion of ‘self esteem’ to be dubious – it seems to be an ego created illusion about ‘how I should be’, holding oneself separate from others.
Which brings me to this – the most important thing to learn about soul mate love; there’s only one soul, its the soul of all of us. So, as Deepak Chopra puts it, ‘through the mirror of relationships I find my non-local self’.
In other words, in every ‘other’ that we relate to we discover a part of our ourselves.
So what’s not to love? Therein lies the rub – this means we must unlearn all we know about relating, to drop our ideas of what it all means and be willing to live without judgement or measurement, with forgiveness and with a fearless heart.
This can happen, moment by moment, if we allow it to.
Well, I never said it was an easy lesson.