The human heart is a channel through which great love can stream into this world. However this heart channel is usually clogged with debris – fearful, defensive patterns that have developed over time.
The more two people open to each other, the more this wide-openness also brings to the surface all the obstacles to it: their deepest, darkest wounds, their desperation and mistrust, their rawest emotional trigger-points.
Before we can become a clear channel through which love can freely flow, the ways we are wounded must come to the surface and be exposed.
Love as a healing power can operate only on what presents itself to be healed. As long as our wounding remains hidden, it can only fester.
Our love for each other is relative because it is dependent on time and circumstance. Our ability to feel a wholehearted “yes” towards another person fluctuates depending upon how much each of us is capable of giving and receiving.
If you observe yourself closely in a romantic relationship, you will see that you continually move back and forth between being open and closed. When another person is responsive or says something pleasing, you naturally start to open; but when they are not responsive or say something threatening, you start to contract. Relative love is incomplete inconsistent and imperfect.
Hopefully, there are moments of absolute love, where you connect to another personal on a deeper level, being-to-being. This absolute love comes without effort and is completely accepting. It’s otherwordly.
Relationships oscillate between relative love and absolute love. Melting into oneness provides moments of blissful union in absolute love. But the next morning wide-opennes becomes clouded by considerations that might arise. The being we bonded with last night becomes the “other” – someone seperate from us rather than connected.
This is a problem only if we expect it to be otherwise. At it’s best relative love has a great beauty of its own which sparkles through when two people can appreciate and enjoy each other in the midst of their differences and changes.
In short, if you are expecting a steady state of absolute love and attunement with another person you are setting yourself up for frustration. Each person can only follow his own internal laws. And since everyone has their own rhythm and sensibility, you can never count on others to be consistently attuned to you.
To compound the problem, not only do we each have needs, but the requests to be loved a certain way might be a trigger for someone who also needs to be loved in a certain, but different way. And needs fluctuate depending upon the time, the situation, and even how well we have each slept the night before. For example, abandonment fears might cause you to request your partner to give more verbal engagement than he is comfortable with. But this might trigger your partners engulfment fears.
Despite best efforts, two partners cannot help triggering each other’s wounds in this way. And expectations in relationships can become a subtle form of control and even violence, for they can be a demand that others conform to our will. We cannot avoid this fate. And relative love makes for a bumpy ride.
Only the advanced level of spiritually enlightened can free themselves from the push-pull of relationships, the mixed feelings that are described in one word: love. Love is effectively its own archetype. Each of us has his own expectations of what it will feel like. But if we look honestly at our lives we will see that no one has ever been there in a totally reliable, continuous way. We fall into trouble if we transfer the archetype of love onto a human person and expect perfect love from an imperfect person in imperfect situations.
The only reliable source of perfect love is the open awake heart at the core of being. And the path to this this is through the self first, not through another.
– paraphrased John Welwood