A friend asked me to find and send an email I wrote back in 2021 so I looked it out and found it and thought I would post it here:
Hi Fran, I’ve been reflecting on talking yesterday about relationships. I thought I would share my thoughts incase they are helpful!
Most people look at relationships from the point of view of what they can get from one. They are looking for love and they have a list of requirements that they want fulfilled in order to be happy. We feel empty, like there is a hole that needs filling up and we want the right person to do that. As we are realising collectively, choice is not all it is cracked up to be! With family including our children we get no choice. It is a lottery and we have to take what we are given and learn to love them as they are. In some ways it is simpler – no shopping around, no trading them in for a new one (although I guess some do try) but by and large we have to work out how to love them and rub along together.
Our focus tends to be on “me”. What I will get and what I need. Then there is a constant paranoia and conflict – “is it right?”, “oh my god, they did this, is that acceptable?”, “Should I trade them in for a better model”. “This might work…this definitely won’t work…they can’t treat me like this…maybe they are alright…do they love me?….will they keep loving me…will they still want me when they see what I am really like…most normal men/women wouldn’t behave like this…” Endless stuff!
So the I-Ching (and my friend Chrissy) are teaching a different approach. What I have learnt from this is that playing the game of searching for the perfect/right person doesn’t get me very far. We can experiment and find out if we can make it work with people. Best to do this as friends before getting involved sexually – that way you don’t confuse sexual bonding with working out if you can get along together as friends (in former times courtship was a wise approach). So giving things 3-6 months to see if it will work is a wise idea and you both know it is a trial and you can agree not to go forward if you don’t want to.
The next thing I learnt in relationships was how to be impeccable or clean in my approach. Instead of focusing on what you want to get from your actions (manipulation) you make your actions free of attachment from an expected outcome. This means that you consider how to be a good partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife rather than finding a good one. You focus on being the sort of partner you would love to have without expecting anything back in return. This is difficult but it does stop the heart hurting so much because you are expecting less of others and you know you have your own integrity and the heart likes that. Our hearts don’t like it when we behave badly to others, no matter how justified. To do this you have to work on your own reactivity. This does not mean you won’t get hurt. You will. But you learn not to feed that. You will hurt others and they will hurt you but no-one really means to hurt each other. We do it because of our animal natures – our egos.
What I learnt in almost every area of life was not to reject people. Rejecting people hurts them. So I aim to accommodate and adapt to everyone who comes along. I treat them as opportunities for me to grow and develop because I know Life is perfect and will bring me exactly who I need to do this. If there are things I don’t like, then I practice being less reactive and I also find practical ways of allowing them space to be themselves whilst taking care of my personality. So, it is ok not to live together, or to have space, or to find creative ways to adapt to each others personality. I also give people choice but with the focus on my personality, eg. I am looking for someone who can give me commitment to not sleep with someone else, sorry but I find it too distressing and it’s important to me, can you do that? Then they have a choice and are free. If they can then great. If not then they are free to reject me. Since we are all neurotic and mad, I try to have compassion for them having to put up with me. In the end you cannot push power on another person – ie. you cannot demand that they conform to your picture of what you want. When I was first learning all this when I was 22 and starting to use the I-Ching I was in a relationship. I was fed up with it, I wanted someone different who fitted my criteria and all my fears about being stuck with someone who didn’t fit were playing out. I asked the I-Ching how to end the relationship. It said, stick with the relationship and make it work. I was confused. I asked again and it said the same thing. Oh dear! So I decided to commit to that girlfriend even if it was for the rest of my life because I realised that I would always face this issue as it was in my nature. After 2 weeks she said, “let’s end the relationship” and so I agreed. It meant that I left it cleanly, knowing that I was ready to face the real work of relationship – the work on myself. I gave up looking for a girlfriend. I decided to wait until Life brought me one. After a year or so it did and I faced the same issues but this time I was ready for them and Dawn and I were married for 26 years. I still faced the same issues because they were in my nature but I learnt to allow them to be without feeding them and they would come and go. I knew that the key was that it didn’t matter how I felt, this was always changing. If I committed to my changing feelings, the relationship couldn’t last. So I learnt to be clean or impeccable in my life. Not to reject people. This is enlightened self-interest because Life often reflects you back to yourself. So if you keep rejecting people, Life will probably provide you with experiences where you are rejected. This is the opposite of what society at large thinks. Society at large thinks it is better to be the person doing the rejecting. Somehow, it means you are better, god knows why. I am more interested in the people who are willing to be rejected, because they are often the ones who are more accepting and tolerant and willing to make the relationship work – not always of course. Sometimes people are really awful and dangerous and it is best to kindly leave but this is rare.
If we complain to other people there is a real danger. Most people play this game and it is dangerous because we are giving other people distorted information and it has a whiff of the drama triangle with us as the victim and the other person as the oppressor so the friend plays rescuer and unconsciously oppresses the “oppressor” (your boyfriend or girlfriend). This is just what part of us wants to hear – ie. that they are awful and you shouldn’t put up with it. It is a relationship killer. Other people, with the best intentions, love to play rescuer and rescuer always says, “you shouldn’t be treated like that”. It adds to the drama. Relationships flourish on love, tolerance and understanding. Talking to wise friends to understand your partner more deeply and to open your heart to them and examine your learning and weaknesses is very different and is valuable to the relationship. You can always feel which you are doing in your heart. I call the negative approach”siren voices”, from the myth of Odysseus, because if you don’t strap yourself to the mast, i.e. to your open heart, then you succumb to the siren voices and the relationship is shipwrecked. Wise friends take your absent partner’s side and don’t collude with your complaints (they empathise but they are careful not to collude), they care about your partner as much as you and want to make the relationship work. Siren voices always seem to tell you that you should reject the other person or try to protect yourself from them, they rarely advocate loving them more or working on the only thing that you can work on – yourself. Wise friends strap you to the mast to avoid acting on your negative thoughts and shipwrecking the relationship.
You don’t have to stay with people. You certainly cannot make them change or control whether they choose to. It takes time for people to trust and most people are scared of being hurt. If you focus on loving, understanding and accepting others, you will have more to offer and it is likely (though not the aim) that they will in time respond to that. It is a difficult black hole game and it takes time and real commitment to get the hang of it and it doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt but that your aim is not to avoid hurt but to be open hearted and loving and be the person you can respect.
I’m sure there is lots I have missed and there will always be exceptions because it is to do with the heart not a fixed set of rules. It is the job of following your heart and meeting the challenge of loving someone not of looking for love. It is not being a martyr or saint. It is being human and keeping your own heart open so that you can love other people just as they are.
As you rightly said, you have to unlearn everything you have learnt because most of what we are taught is back to front. We are taught to go out and push and get what we want and to manipulate others to achieve this. If people don’t give us what we want or conform to our expectations then we should reject such “toxic” people!
It is a difficult challenge and it does not matter whether you stay with this man or what he does. What matters is that you are cleaning up your act and learning to love and be impeccable. I think you have already chosen that in your heart and I know your heart already understands all of this, as do all our hearts. It is applying what our hearts already know which is tricky.
Lots of love
PS. I asked the I-Ching about this and it said 53 – Gradual progress on it’s own. That says:
The development of events that leads to a girl’s following a man to his home proceeds slowly. The various formalities must be disposed of before the marriage takes place. This principle of gradual development can be applied to other situations as well; it is always applicable where it is a matter of correct relationships of co–operation, as for instance in the appointment of an official. The development must be allowed to take its proper course. Hasty action would not be wise. This is also true, finally, of any effort to exert influence on others, for here too the essential factor is a correct way of development through cultivation of one’s own personality. No influence such as that exerted by agitators has a lasting effect.
Within the personality too, development must follow the same course if lasting results are to be achieved. Gentleness that is adaptable, but at the same time penetrating, is the outer form that should proceed from inner calm.
The very gradualness of the development makes it necessary to have perseverance, for perseverance alone prevents slow progress from dwindling to nothing.
On the mountain, a tree:
The image of DEVELOPMENT.
Thus the superior man abides in dignity and virtue,
In order to improve the mores.
The tree on the mountain is visible from afar, and its development influences the landscape of the entire region. It does not shoot up like a swamp plant; its growth proceeds gradually. Thus also the work of influencing people can be only gradual. No sudden influence or awakening is of lasting effect. Progress must be quite gradual, and in order to obtain such progress in public opinion and in the mores of the people, it is necessary for the personality to acquire influence and weight. This comes about through careful and constant work on one’s own moral development.
I think that was what I was trying to say above!
Monthly Archives: March 2023
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