Martin Heade, Orchid with Two Hummingbirds (1871)
Martin Heade, Orchid with Two Hummingbirds (1871)

There’s a curious conflict that can arise for people seeking coupledom.

That is, between attraction and a subtler connection that can be sustained.

Sure, it’s nice to be attracted to someone, hoping it’s mutual. But that can often be superficial, even misleading. Charisma is not presence, nor does it indicate suitability for you.

A shared sense of connection is a much better indicator. And yet even there, both attraction and a sense of connection can be karmic. We’re drawn together to work something out.

Sometimes, that’s a sustained obligation to support your partner long term. But other times, it’s just a need to resolve something. Once complete, the connection dissipates and we may feel impelled move on. It felt so right, then it felt so wrong.

In the second case, friendship may be the better avenue. Or it may be the relationship shifts from being compelling to one of simple mutual support.

The common advice is to take it slow, get to know them as friends, and then build a relationship on that platform. Love grows out of a good friendship. You may find things resolve before intimacy develops.

Certainly, we can transition from attraction to friendship, but we’ll be prone to go from attraction to intimacy. It’s harder to develop a friendship after that.

How we start a relationship can set the pattern for the rest of it.

Similarly, the early romance of a relationship has to mature into a more abiding connection. It’s surprising how deep love can go in an enduring relationship.

So many things can interfere with a relationship developing. A big one is unresolved baggage from a prior loss. Many people in the “market” are ambivalent about commitment. They may like the idea of a partner but balk at anything developing. They seek an imagined ideal or they seek the opposite of the last one. Yet this is responding from loss rather than love.

It’s much more valuable to get to know ourselves and our needs, and thus the qualities of a suitable partner. As with so many other things, our concepts about it can have little to do with who we connect with.

There is also the issue of seeking another to “complete” us. If we’re not whole within, we may seek completion outside of ourselves. Sometimes this can work briefly, but as the other person and the relationship itself evolves, they may stop following the expected “role”. When this has been unconscious, we may not recognize what’s changed and can’t discuss it. They may feel we failed them without being able to say why. We simply get blamed.

Love Languages can be a healthy starting point to understand some of the dynamics.

Then there’s those other red flags we can run into. There may be a good reason why someone is single.

There also needs to be suitable timing for both to start something.

Then there’s all the layers of compatibility. Lifestyle, diet, interests, values, practices, beliefs…

I’ve found that as people mature, they discover what they like. As much as possible, their life gets structured around that. Then it becomes more challenging to integrate someone else into our specifics.

What are we willing to compromise, and what not? What’s a show-stopper?

It’s a miracle we can find someone compatible at all. But happily, life organizes to bring people into our life that will help resolve our history or fulfill our desires.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
– John Lennon, Beautiful Boy

All of this is about how we respond to what’s happening, though. We don’t control the results of our action, but we have some choice in how we respond. A big part of the spiritual path is learning to allow what’s happening and to trust the process.

Love may come and go in our lives. Life may push us to spend time with someone that isn’t what we may have expected. Yet if we follow the path that appears before us, the journey will be smoother and more complete.

“Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
– Alfred Tennyson

Love is real soul food. The deepest love survives even a breakup or death, although that love needs to be transformed to a less personal focus.

The curious part about life is that if we want something to happen, we need to engage the field of action. Only by acting do we get results.

Those results may be nothing like we planned, but it’s that movement that can bring them.

Buckminster Fuller described this as precession. We use a dating app, then meet someone at the grocery store. Of course, our story may be different but life can operate that way.

Depending on our history, relationships can be challenging. They can mirror our unconscious junk back at us. They can serve difficult karma. But the householder path can also be profoundly fulfilling. The depth of love and connection that can develop in a long-term relationship is deeply enriching.


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  1. Gina

    When someone asks us about our almost 50-year marriage, and what is the secret, the answer is not so much love and devotion as patience, understanding, and above all TOLERANCE. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either. 😀

    1. This was a slowly learned lesson here, George. This is not to say it’s wrong or we should avoid marriages. Karma comes as blessings too. And they can be a powerful vehicle for opening the heart. But idealizing them just leads to disappointment, which can damage the potential of the relationship.

      In Jyotish, the Navamsha or 9th house chart is said to be a map of the first marriage. Given it’s a map of karma…

  2. George Robinson

    So, let me see…a woman assertively proposing marriage to a man while on an extended course, rounding 3×3, on the 3rd day they after they first met…that might — just might — be a situation that warrants at least a little more time to reflect and digest? OK, got it. That explains a lot. Thanks.

    1. (laughs) Right – not a good idea to make decisions while rounding.

      A while ago, I ran into someone from my TTC and we shared stories. Clearly we lived in a different world. My memories were of the deep meditations, profound experiences and knowledge. They talked about the secret relationships, etc.

      That said, who knows how I would have responded if a woman proposed to me… 🙂

  3. Allen Dubner

    Its quite perfect that I am reading your beautiful post on relationships and love on the day of our 38th wedding anniversary. 40 years and 9 months ago, I decided it was time to allow the perfect life mate for me to come into my life. I sat down and put upon a large poster board, cut out magazine images of what I wanted in a mate and also key words describing her attributes and key things I wanted in the relationship. In the center of the poster board I put a symbol of the Divine Source and underneath it wrote the words “This or something better — Thy will be done” I took this poster board imagery out from under my bed and looked at it for 10 minutes twice a day and told no one of this process I was doing. 9 months latter, she appeared in my life and she was “This and something better” as I had written on the poster board.

    I often wondered if I somehow gave a nudge to the Universe to create this because of my dedicated focus of intention or if the poster board thing had nothing to do with her arrival and it was just my karmic timing to meet her.

    What are your thoughts on this? Can a person actually nudge the Universe to bring wonderful things or people into their lives or is it just the karmic delivery system irregardless of one’s visualization on a desired outcome? Either way, I feel blessed.

    Allen Dubner

    1. Congrats, Allen. Not so common these days.

      It’s a bit of both. The karmic timing will cause you to put your attention on it. But the focus is a useful exercise in getting clear on what a suitable partner is, so you can recognize them when they show up. When we just have vague ideas, we can miss opportunities.

      The ‘or something better’ part is also good because ego can tend to use a process like this to try and control. But this isn’t something to control. Set the attention, then let go and allow nature to organize. The ‘something better’ can be totally unexpected and not what we’ve considered.

      This also relates to the taking action I mentioned. When we start to move towards, it gives nature more opportunities to organize a connection.

      It can be quite the dance…

  4. Sharon

    This is such a rich and deep post. For now I’ll just share two responses: first, I so much appreciate the concept of the five love languages. I now have his book God Speaks Your Love Language. And I do experience that as I grow, I’m more fluid wrt the love languages, both giving and receiving.

    Secondly, that self-proclaimed sex addict, Russell Brand had a wonderful insight. He explains that as religions moved westward, they lost the concept of a passionate relationship with the divine Beloved. Thus in the west, romantic love with a person, filled that gap. This began in the Middle Ages with the idea of courtly love.

    Wishing everyone here fuller and fuller joy & peace & love in 2023!

    1. Thanks, Sharon
      Yes, now that they’re conscious, they’re much easier to see in relationship. As boundaries soften and fall away, we adapt more to the need of the moment.

      Interesting. That comes out of suppressing the Divine feminine and the celibate male priest being set up as our intermediary with God (rather than direct experience).

      Blessings for ’23!

  5. Tim Owens

    Oh dear.
    I met her in Canada on my SCI course before going to TTC 5 months later.
    While doing 12 rounds a day I decided she was my soulmate.
    When we got back to the States, I wooed her and won her.
    Lasted 3 miserable years.
    Smartest thing she ever did was kick me to the curb.
    Lesson learned.

    1. (laughs) Well, TO, thats a great illustration of karma in action. I basically did the same but later in life. We seemed perfect for each other but what a financial disaster. Huge blind spots emerged. We both recovered after breaking up. It was helpful in surfacing a white knight tendency i hadn’t been aware of.

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