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.