(Note: I am reposting some blog posts that are included in my newest book, Everything Is Included. More info and links to purchase the book are here.)
Q: I have fallen in love. I have not received much love from the person. There has been almost no communication and even less physical contact. When I met this person, it was a quick recognition that I was going to fall in love with him and that I already knew him from a deep soul connection. At first, I was so hurt when he pulled away from me, but I learned how to let go. When he is near me, I feel so alive. I radiate with joy and peace and love. When this person is gone, he is distant and hurtful. He pulls me in and pushes me out with equal force. But I remain patient and kind and loving. This person expresses to me that he has not learned how to love fully, but he loves me. So, how do I continue to love without overstepping my boundaries and while respecting his?
A: Love doesn’t necessarily need a relationship. Love and relationship are both important and beautiful, but they operate at different levels of our Being.
Love is the bigger truth, and so it permeates all of our experience. The source of love is deep within our own essence. Even when you feel tremendous love when you are with the other person, that love is coming from within your own Being.
In contrast, relationship happens on the surface of our existence. For this reason, it is a smaller truth or reality. It is still important and worthwhile, but it is just not as important as love. A simple way to verify this is to reflect on how love without a relationship can still be wonderful, but a relationship without love is rarely very rewarding.
There is never a reason not to love. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it fills your heart with sweetness and light. You can give love and then give even more, and you will never run out. To recognize this, it helps to remember that love is simply awareness and acceptance or space. The best lover is someone who gives you lots of attention and also the space to be however you are. You can always give this kind of love to yourself, to others, and to everything. Simply notice what is and let it be the way it is. You don’t even have to like it, in which case you can also give space to your not liking it. (You can read more about giving love in this way in this article.)
When it comes to relationship, there are many more practical considerations. Is it realistic to be with this person? Does this person want to be in a relationship with you? Is he or she someone you can be best friends with? Does this person consistently treat you with respect and consideration? Is he or she able to listen to and accommodate your needs and also communicate and express his or her own needs? So it is simple to decide whether to love, but not as simple to decide whether to be in a relationship with someone. (continue reading)
When we confuse these different levels of our experience, we tend to suffer. When we forget that love comes from within our own heart, we may think we need the love of another person. When we deny or neglect our human needs to have healthy boundaries and nourishing relationships, we may hurt ourselves by pursuing or staying in unfulfilling relationships.
Often we are programmed or conditioned to seek a relationship with someone who is not willing or able to be in a relationship with us. To varying degrees, we all didn’t get the love and attention we needed from our parents, and yet as a child, we still had to try and get their love. This can create a pattern where we feel compelled to get someone to love us even though they are not available for love. We are trying to get the experience we needed as a child by pursuing someone who reminds us of our parents, who were not completely available. These unconscious conditioned patterns have a lot of power to affect our relationships, especially if we are not aware of these patterns.
The antidote to our conditioned patterns and to the pain they can cause is, surprisingly, to simply love our own confusion and pain. Give your heart and all of its love and all of its wounding lots of attention and also the space to be here just the way it is. Don’t leave yourself out when you give love freely to others. Being very aware of your own heart and its reactions will also allow you to become more discriminating about when and how to pursue or be in relationship with others. Love is both the destination and the guide in this life.