If you asked me some years or months ago, I would say that the pain of romantic love is about the feelings being non-mutual. But with growing awareness (thanks to meditation and daily gratitude journaling), I learned that it is not the case, not a complete answer.
As I mentioned in the first part of this mini-series, I believe in the interconnectedness of everything. From this perspective, there are no events that are essentially good or bad. There is just love that flows from one point of the Absolute to other points and areas of the Absolute. This love is true. However, each individual point of view has freedom to interpret the events around it, to label events in any way it chooses, and to decide to be influenced by the events or the chosen labels in any way. For whatever reasons, many events are traditionally and habitually interpreted as “negative” – but none has to be such.
Paradoxically, for me this interconnectedness of everything also equates to an eternal disconnection of each point from others. Each point is unique and eternal, it cannot be anything but itself. And while connected with others via abundant streams of love, it still seems that there are shells that separate me from the Absolute, that no matter how strong the stream of love is, it has a beginning and the end, and they are separate…
At this point, I have two thoughts:
- I choose to call this phenomenon (aka assign to it the label of) “existential loneliness”.
- Belief in separation of the source and the sink of the stream conflicts with a possibility of love flowing from a point of the Absolute to itself, with self-love. And this might be an indicator and/or a result of my issues in the area of loving myself.
But before going forward (if we ever do :)), let’s get back to Earth for a while…
My former answer about romantic love being non-mutual, or about it being painful when non-mutual, comes from my actual life experiences, aka my own memorized interpretations of the events that touched me.
“The issue”, “the thing” that I have around this subject is that even attraction itself comes to me faster than to the ladies that I become attracted to. It might be connected to the fact that I learned from a recent read: for men, attraction is visual to a very high degree, while women’s sense of attraction is composed of multiple factors and is, in fact, VERY chaotic :)
And I really, really need just a little positive attention from the girl on top of her visual attractiveness to become actually attracted to her. Anything goes, starting from a warm smile and openness to an interesting conversation, through the actual discussion that resonates, through asking for help or helping me, to – wow! – touches and tenderness…
When this positive attentions meets the existential loneliness, that’s when explosions happen. As I meet someone who notices me, interacts with me, and positively responds to me, it gives birth to a thought, a hope that this connection will be able to solve, to fix the loneliness. A hope that this girl could become someone with whom I would not feel that loneliness ever again… Such thoughts effectively push me off the “stability” cliff into the avalanche of attraction and desire… to the state of mind that could be called “lust”.
What I mean is that once I like a girl, and she becomes a part of my life to any degree, and we seem to stay in touch, and I am receiving positive inputs / stimulation from her, then my initially lightly positive disposition towards her quickly grows into a strong and heavy desire… which is indeed heavy, highly uncomfortable for the girl… and for me as well.
This desire, this lust is non-sexual at the beginning… Both because its source (as mentioned above) is beyond the Life-on-Earth and reproduction questions, but also because I carry remains of long-term repressed sexuality… The repression was caused by some unvoiced social norms and some behaviors of my environment, which I picked up from the childhood and early teenagehood. For me, those things meant that sexuality is considered shameful, and I was unworthy and not deserving of receiving sex, no matter how much I was interested in it, how much I wanted or desired it.
Let’s step back and reiterate. The lust which I’m talking about is sparked by a hope that a relationship could rid me of the existential loneliness. Where existential loneliness means that I am the only person “hearing” my thoughts and feeling my feelings, that I am the only person who strives to fulfil the calling, the life purpose that I sense… Existential loneliness means that I’m giving attention to the thoughts and feelings of being separate in my body. And the hope is for a relationship with a girl to bring me feelings of belonging, of being loved and needed and desired and worthy and deserving, for all the time of my life…
And this is a broken ideal. What I realized recently is that it is not up to anything or anyone outside of us to bring us these feelings. They won’t manage it. All these feelings are natural, are in the foundation of everything, and it is us ourselves, those little points of consciousness, that interpret the events of our lives in ways that block the well-being that is all around us and always flows towards us.
We are like fishes in the ocean of love, but for some reason we choose to build ourselves aquariums and then complain of having not enough clean water there. Again, it is in our full responsibility to choose what labels we assign to the events of our lives, how we let them to influence us and how we respond to them. Nothing of that is inherent to the events, all of it is defined by our perspective.
On the other side, the lust about which I am talking above is the desire to become one. Neither this desire is achievable in the perfect-ideal-complete sense, but to a certain degree the ideal can be approached through connecting on different levels, in different aspects of our lives.
Personally, I look first for connecting with people in the emotional and spiritual sense. Only after establishing basic connections in these two areas, I start giving attention to the whole four dimensions of spirit-heart-mind-body and yes, eventually, I want them all. (note: if you feel curious, a very good resource detailing the four-dimensional model is Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”; the model is also described and used in later posts on relationships by Steve Pavlina)
Summing up this part, the general answer to the question of why romantic love is painful for me is that it tends to grow on the broken foundation, that it is based on false hopes and unreachable ideals, and in general is intertwined with the condition of attraction that shades and hides the pure joy of unconditional love…
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