The Only Relationship Question That Matters

“There are books all about ‘How to pick up women’ and ‘How to get a man.’ But the problem isn’t finding other humans, they’re everywhere. It’s learning how to actually love and be loved by the people we find. The thing we all crave most is a deep and loving connection, yet very few of us have ever taken the same amount of time and energy we put into swiping left and right as we do into learning how to be a great partner. Maybe we wouldn’t have to put so much effort into finding an amazing partner if we finally learned how to be one.” ~Mark Groves

When we experience disappointment in any relationship, especially a romantic one, it is extremely tempting to to slip into the blame game, focusing on everything the other person said or did wrong. When I recently went through a break-up, I was given a lot of support from friends who were subscribed to the “Kate’s ex is a jerk” mentality.

But I found that judging, criticizing and blaming my ex-boyfriend felt just as debilitating as the breakup itself. I knew getting over my heartache wasn’t about convincing myself I was better off without that “jerk,” but rather focusing on where I got it wrong and could improve. Even if the demise of our relationships are 90% the other person’s fault, we still have to look at our 10%.

Instead of making a laundry list of traits or characteristics we want in an ideal mate, what if we spent our time and energy figuring out who we want to be in a relationship?

Doesn’t that feel so much more empowering? After all, our thoughts, feelings and actions are the only things we can control. I believe when we practice being the men and women we want to be, the ideal partner will show up, and this time, we won’t blow it. For example, we will know our triggers, and how to manage our emotions. Instead of focusing on what we can get, we will be generous with what we can give. We won’t settle or expect someone to “complete” us as our core belief system is, “I am complete.”

When we begin to look at our relationships as adventuresome assignments for ultimate personal development and soul growth, our desperate need to try to control them will shift. Instead of obsessing over why someone wasn’t able to love us exactly as we wanted, we will understand we were brought together to learn from one another.

Sometimes the lesson is: I haven’t done the inner work required to allow the relationship to flourish.

From a spiritual perspective, if we can learn not to attack or defend and instead practice forgiveness and take responsibility for our wounds, which appear as character defects we are tempted to judge in ourselves and others, then we can heal these wounds, release the painful feelings associated with them, and show up for ourselves and others as happy, healthy partners.

As a student of A Course In Miracles, here are some of the spiritual practices I use on a daily basis:

Give unconditional acceptance.

I realize what I am about to say is one of the biggest challenges we face as human beings: Forgive and accept people, in this case, your mate, exactly as he or she is.

Ask whatever higher power you believe in that your judgements, projections, and criticism be dissolved.

Ask that the aspects of your personality that make you more lovable be shown more frequently.

Ask that your relationship may be used for a higher purpose and take you both to a place where you could not go alone.

Surrender your grievances and attachments to anyone who has done you wrong. Getting angry at someone for not wanting to be with us is disempowering and takes us out of our dignity. Approving people for who they are and their decision not to be with us creates the space for us to attract the right person.

It is self-sabotaging to lash out, show our disapproval of and condemn the other person, because when we attack another, we are also attacking ourselves. When we do this, we will also continue to attract partners who don’t want us.

It’s easy to accept people who want us, but the challenge is to accept people who do not want us. The goal is to get to a place where we love people whether they want us or not.

Forgiveness is the answer to everything.

Don’t act on your anger, surrender it to a higher power. Sit in meditation and ask that your anger be taken from you. Nothing changes until first it is accepted exactly as it is. A Course In Miracles says, “Only infinite patience produces immediate results.”

Show up fully.

Instead of asking, “Is this person really good enough for me?” Ask yourself, “Am I really showing up for this person and creating a safe space for their transformation and enlightenment?”

That’s a BIG difference!

In creating the space for another’s transformation, we allow them to be who they were not yesterday, we give them the freedom to be re-born, to get it right.

As long as your partner is willing to work on themselves, the relationship can move forward.

Pray for their happiness every day. Remind them how wonderful they are. Give support and be generous with your time, compliments, undivided attention and so forth. Resist the temptation to project onto another that he or she is your completion, and demand that they behave a certain way.

It is easy to love someone when they are doing and saying everything we want them to. The challenge is loving someone when they aren’t acting the way we want them to. Spiritual companionship isn’t about supporting one another in coddling our own weaknesses.

I think it’s important to ask ourselves, “If the ‘ideal partner’ showed up right now, would he or she want me?”

None of us are perfect, we all have childhood wounds and heartbreaks from previous relationships. But we can pray that certain aspects be taken away. I ask God/Spirit/Universe to please change my patterns, and make me available and ready for lasting love. I ask that the part of me that expects my partner to be more/better/different to be removed.

While we show up in each other’s lives in order to heal and grow, this doesn’t mean the relationship will work out or you will even like the person (romantically or otherwise).

The Course says, if you are looking for that one special person to complete you, then you are looking for completeness in separation. I look for you to give me what no human being can give. Instead pray that all walls in front of your heart be dissolved, and ask God/Spirit/Universe to prepare your heart, body, personality, beliefs and home for love.

“It is not your job to seek for love, but to seek in yourself all the barriers to its coming.” ~A Course In Miracles

How To Keep Boundaries And Not Settle In Our Relationships


J Clynes Photography

There is nothing quite as electrifying or soul satisfying as falling in love and thinking we’ve found a partner to spend our lives with. But what happens when you start to see and feel that this man or woman is causing you more pain than joy and you are already so deeply invested?

I believe relationships are assignments. They bring up all our “stuff.” In other words, you and your significant other will both be triggered, old wounds will come up for the purpose of healing. You will both have to feel your feelings and release them in order to move forward and grow as a couple.

“Love brings up everything unlike itself for the purpose of healing.” ~A Course in Miracles

As a student of A Course in Miracles and a woman devoted to my spiritual growth, I was up for working through any difficult emotions or situations that came up. My partner was not. It wasn’t as easy as just cutting him lose immediately though. I had developed deep feelings for him, and we were in love.

I felt guilty for wanting to simply abandon him and the relationship. I truly wanted to grow with him. A friend gave my a piece of advice that really struck a cord with me. It resonated much more intimately than, “Girl, you deserve better,” and “He’s not good enough for you.”

My friend told me I was basing my decision to (at least temporarily) stay in the relationship off of my feelings and not my values. When I explained to her that I loved this man and wanted a future with him, but had some major concerns like the fact he wasn’t interested in a spiritual life at all and was unwilling to work through any emotional baggage or issues stemming from his divorce, both of which are extremely important to me.

It seemed obvious to my friend that my guy was simply not ready for a serious relationship despite telling me otherwise. His decision to lie to me on more than one occasion came up as character defects as well (things I had overlooked because I loved him). We both knew the right decision was to walk away from this relationship. So why was it so difficult and painful to end it?

I was evaluating if I should stay in the relationship based off my strong feelings for this man rather than what I value. When I wrote down what I value in a romantic partner, I realized this man did not embody many of those qualities, like supporting me emotionally, sharing my spiritual commitment to a higher power and being fully committed to me.

My friend reflected back to me what she saw. She asked me to pretend I had never met my boyfriend, and said I have this great guy for you, and I know you will find him very charming and attractive. Want me to hook you up with him?

“Sure,” I said.

My friend said, “Great! But he won’t share your values, he is spiritually passive, he will refuse to work through any of his emotional baggage and instead project his pain onto you, he will talk about his ex wife all the time, he won’t support you emotionally, he won’t celebrate your career accomplishments, well, actually he won’t respect that you work hard at all, and he will attack and criticize your feelings. But I think you will love him. So do you want to go out with him?”

Feeling repulsed, I said, “No!”

It became crystal clear I was leading with my feelings and not my values. My attachment to this man was getting in the way of what I truly desired in a life partner and was clouding my judgment. I recognized that my spiritual values would have to lead the way instead if I wanted a loving relationship that would last and be deeply fulfilling.

While at first I thought I was walking away from a great connection and love, I realized I was actually protecting and preserving love by requiring the character values that make it work. When I explained to my boyfriend that this is what I wanted and wasn’t interested in anything less, he agreed that he was not ready for this kind of relationship. I said I hope you become ready, I want that person to be you, but right now, I have to move on.

I had hopes that he would be inspired to go to counseling, get support and want to fully commit to a loving relationship with me. Turns out, he doesn’t want to work through any of his issues, and I have to respect his decision and close that door permanently. I truly wish him the best on his journey, and I’m thankful for the soul growth I experienced while dating him. I learned what I want, and more importantly, what I do not want in a committed romantic relationship.

I think it’s important that each of us look for a set of inner values in our relationships from the beginning, and if our love interest is not displaying those values, we consciously choose to not get involved and hold out for the person who embodies those cherished values. It’s even more imperative that we cultivate the characteristics that are valuable to us and keep ourselves in check as well. It’s our values that ultimately protect us.

When we lead with our values, not how we feel about someone, even when how we feel about someone is very strong, our values will lead us to the right person. Do not settle for less. Keep your boundaries. Guard your heart. Only give it to someone worth giving it to.



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