by: Jamie Rautenberg
Many people assume I’m against marriage, long-term relationships and monogamy because I constantly emphasize the importance of committing to our own personal growth at all times, first and foremost.
But, this assumption is not accurate.
The journey of our individual evolution will, of course, include relationships with others-that fact cannot be escaped in an interactive reality. But, the degree to which we expand in these relationships will be determined by how deeply we are connected to ourselves as a result of making that initial commitment to growth, and if we are consistently operating from a space of truth and love within us, independent of anyone else’s desires for us or for the relationship outside of the present moment.
The piece that’s missing from most human relationships is the freedom to connect without an expectation or projection that another fulfill a need for us to feel complete and secure. This creates an urge to possess and a desire to manipulate a situation into being what we think it should be vs. fully seeing and acknowledging how it actually is.
In my experience, a healthy relationship is not dependent on my needs being met through another, but how much freedom and growth I feel within myself in relating with that person. Anytime I wasn’t growing in a relationship, it was because I wasn’t being honest with myself.
This was especially true in my most recent relationship with my ex-boyfriend Sean.
We were in a traditional romantic relationship for about two years when my health took a dose dive, and dinners in fancy restaurants by candlelight were replaced by conversations in waiting rooms under flickering florescent lights.
Attempting to play out “normal” dating roles through the trauma of recovering from a life-threatening illness only added pressure to already an stressful situation, and completely stifled my healing process. It wasn’t until I hit organ failure that I realized there was simply no way to reclaim my wholeness through squeezing back into a box that I was never sure I fit into in the first place.
The only way I could connect to and express true love with Sean was diving deep into all the places I lacked acknowledgement and love for myself. I slowly learned that repeated unconscious abandonment of the self is the perfect foundation in which disease (mental, emotional, or physical) can build upon.
If I wanted to live, the choice was clear, my focus had to be unconditionally placed within these neglected parts, without compromise. Any expectation I ever had for another to fill them only aided in the creation of my ailing condition. This meant my attention had to shift from my relationship with Sean to my relationship with myself.
Following through with this self-love prescription means change and comes the risk that whatever our current circumstances are, will likely transform. All relationships we have will reflect this transformation, including those of our intimate partnerships.
So, as my connection to myself grew deeper, my relationship with Sean started morphing into something different. Not only did my body start healing with my newfound expansion, Sean began his own transformation as well.
Through our mutual evolutions, we were able to recognize that squeezing our formerly romantic relationship back into that traditional box for the sake of avoiding change simply wasn’t going to serve the people we grew into. Where once we were a couple, we had now become companions and friends. Pretending this wasn’t the case would only generate more suffering, which I simply would not tolerate anymore.
The removal of the pressure to be anything other than that new truth created the conditions in which both of us could truly thrive in our individual journeys since we were no longer going against our soul’s deepest knowing.
I gained the extremely valuable insight that when I’m fully committed to my expansion, I’m fully committed to everyone else’s by default. Sometimes that means feelings & situations will shift because they’re no longer conducive to growth and healing.
And that’s okay.
That’s where the magic is.
That’s the root of all creation.
So many of us can fall into traps of compromising the truth for the sake of staying with something familiar and predictable. In a way, that does keep us safeguarded from experiencing the discomfort of change. But, it doesn’t change the fact that nothing expands within sameness. Marriage and relationships can be wonderful when the two souls participating in it aren’t afraid of the temporary discomfort that evolution brings.
Maybe this means the form our relationship takes changes, but that doesn’t make the love we feel any less true. We project it onto the other, but it’s really been within us the entire time. That person was merely a reflection for us to see our own love and share it. This is a beautiful thing and can only be shared in honesty and in true connection with oneself first.
As Sean and I continue to commit to ourselves each day, our platonic friendship only gets stronger. Perhaps for another couple this means a new level in romantic partnership is reached or maybe it means we acknowledge what we learned and move forward on separate path. But, the relationship forms and definitions don’t really matter when the point of all relating will always be to authentically grow more deeply into the love that we always are.