Finding/Being an Intimate Partner
So many of my clients are seeking to prepare for or re-establish a healthy, deeply satisfying intimate relationship. How can a person attract “the right” partner or find more harmony and alignment with their current partner?
Are you yearning for someone who can accompany you on the path, a fellow traveler who is genuinely interested in exploring relationship as a transformative, modern-day crucible of healing and awakening?
(Before continuing to read on, reflect on the pictures you are holding in your mind of this optimal and awesome relationship. Notice how you appear in your mind’s eye when you see yourself having this relationship; notice how your body feels.)
There are many ways to find a partner or to find a sense of connection in the dynamic with your current partner. There are workshops to attend, magazines and internet experts who offer ten “secrets” to attract your perfect soul mate or twelve steps to manifesting your twin flame. There are tantric practices you can learn and master. And it can be important to experiment with any of these approaches to which you feel drawn and which are resonant with your longing.
The counsel I generally offer is not as linear, sexy, or compelling as the examples above . . . nor are my ideas all that fun or flashy, or even overtly “spiritual”. The guidance I give boils down to learning how to take care of yourself. It’s been my experience that deeply attending to one’s own experience lays the foundation for a rich, meaningful, and nourishing relationship with another. In the end, it is the degree to which you are able to take responsibility for your own core emotional wounding that you will release your partner(s) from this burden, which is not theirs to carry.
As long as you hold even very subtle expectations that your partner’s role is to enact the archetype of the “good other” that was missing in earlier developmental times, you will not be able to assume the risk that intimacy demands: to lead with your vulnerability, (your pain, hurt, fear and confusion) and in so doing, engage the incredibly transformative energy of the relational field.
If you are serious about attracting a partner or reconnecting with your spouse of 30 years, become curious about what triggers you, the feelings you’ll do anything not to feel, and the unique behaviors you engage in to distract yourself from activating that emotional experience. Rather than urgently spinning, attacking, educating, criticizing or judging others to find relief from this material, instead move toward it, move into it.
Get support and reflection from teachers and therapists so that you can train yourself to enter into, to be inside these parts you have been avoiding. Touch it; Feel it; Come to know it and come to know your-Self. Become the holding environment where the feelings you avoid can be illuminated, be met and worked through, and integrated in loving presence.
Hint: When you are intimate with yourself and your pain, there will be a quiet, a stillness that “holds” or contains the feelings . . . notice that there is a “dropping into” that occurs, which moves your attention and perception interiorly . . . and away from any apparently offending externals.
To what degree do you believe another person will fill the void for you, make the emptiness go away, relieve you from feelings and limiting beliefs you do not want to confront, and protect you from the unattended ghosts of your unlived life? As spiritually oriented or therapeutically processed people, we are often quite sure that we have processed all these wounds or transcended all our attachments . . . but please inquire carefully, as unresolved expectations can be subtle. As long as we are looking to new or existing partners to fulfill those functions that were not offered to us as young children, it will be difficult to come into a fulfilling, loving relationship that is not riddled with the pain of projection.
Your partner is here to help and support you, to make the journey by your side as a loving, caring fellow traveler of the path. But they are not here to (re)parent you or take care of your unlived life for you. This is your sacred work, and it would be unkind and inappropriate of them to attempt to take these holy tasks from you. All the abandonment, rejection, unworthiness, shame, rage, jealousy, unmet grief and loneliness . . . all have come into the relational field with you, and your sought-after partner or existing partner simply provides the extraordinary opportunity of a mirror for you to see yourself.
When all is said and done, the secret to co-creating a fulfilling, supportive, mutually beneficial, intimate relationship, is focus and attention to one’s own experience. Healthy intimacy with another asks you to live in self-awareness, intimacy with self . . . in each moment, in all its chaotic glory. Becoming intimate with yourself, you are creating a foundation from which your relationships with others can come alive. Being intimate first with self and then with others is a crucible like no other for the great work of aliveness that we are here to embody.